My fellow blogger and Facebook Friend Meg Roberts, a senior PR student at the University of South Florida, is currently blogging about why college students are not blogging. She cites four reasons why they aren’t, but makes the point that they should be.
I have been wondering the same thing about my students at Towson University. I have around 100 PR Track students in four classes. I asked each class how many read blogs regularly, and in all classes, only a very few said they did. When asked how many blog themselves, there were virtually no affirmative responses. While this is not scientific research, it is disturbing.
I do not require my students to establish their own blogs in any of my classes. Some of my colleagues do. Valued colleague and Facebook Friend Stacy Spaulding, Ph.D., who teaches Journalism and New Media at Towson, is one of them. Such an assignment fits her syllabus.
Tiffany Derville, Ph.D., formerly of Towson and now teaching at the University of Oregon, also requires blogging for her PR writing classes. I read some of Stacy’s and Tiffany’s students’ blogs when I can. It is always enlightening. I am a regular visitor to the few students of mine who blog. And I would not miss one of Meg Robert’s posts.
There are other professors out there who require student blogs for various classes. These are just a few examples of how professors are dealing with the all-important subject of social media for PR students. Like Meg Roberts, I wonder why more PR students are not voluntarily embracing blogging.
Each of my classes will have blog-related assignments, but not a requirement to set up a blog of their own. I approach the need to learn about and participate in social media in a different way. When the semester is finished, my students will have read and participated in numerous PR and IMC blogs. They will know the impact on and importance of the blogosphere to organizations and the impact it has on the PR profession.
But is that enough? Is regular reading of a wide variety of blogs plus commenting to them and discussing findings enough to help them learn what they need to know?
At present, I believe it fits the style of my classes not to require blogging personally but to instill in students a desire to participate in social media combined with the knowledge to do so. I strongly believe in learning by doing (see Why is Uncle Lester Blogging?), but it stops short of requiring a student to blog.
Am I wrong here? Your advice and counsel please.