Perspective Twist

A few weeks ago, I was at Jackson College to give a presentation on Social Media for their Success Day Conference. While talking with the organizers, they informed me that they wanted me to talk about professional uses and best practices of social media for community college students. So, I prepared a little presentation, but was really going to just have a dialogue with the students.

Well, the day came and I headed to Jackson College (where a deer hit my BRAND NEW car on the way, but that’s another blog post). Upon arriving at campus i saw many 18-21 students and a sprinkle of non-traditional students attending the conference. Thinking that I would have a multitude of attendees, my excitement for my session grew. After awhile, I headed to my room set up and waited…and waited…and waited. After 15 minutes into the session, not one student had arrived.

I eventually gave up and headed out, but my mind was racing. Why did no one attend? Was my session not advertised enough? Did it have a boring title? Did they peek in when I wasn’t looking and wasn’t sure if I was competent enough on the subject?

After calming down and getting my head back on straight, I started thinking about the students I had seen, assuming they would attend my session. They were all on their phones and checking Facebook and Twitter, or reading emails or articles that had come through. So, if they were all on social media and knew how to use it, why didn’t they attend the session?

Then it hit me. I had just answered my own question. It was because they already knew about social media.

In so many conversations and hashtag conversations I and colleagues have spoken about teaching students proper use of social media, with the assumption that they have only basic knowledge of the platforms, but that we can really teach them how to use and utilize them. That day, it occurred to me that perhaps we can no longer approach it as if we are teaching them something new. Perhaps we need to twist our approach and take on the perspective that we need to help them break their bad habits or poor use of social media and show them best practices for professional purposes. For not much longer, will we really have to teach them (the younger generations) about social media. Let’s be honest, they are on top of the latest technology like me with pandas. There’s nothing you can teach me about pandas that I don’t ready know.

Parallel is with teaching formal dinning etiquette during leadership trainings. We’re not teaching them anything new, because they already know how to eat (I hope).  Rather, we are trying to break bad habits and show them more professional and proper ways to dine. It’s the same concept with social media. Our student know the platforms. They have grown up on them.  They just have some habits that need to be altered in order to help them acquire good jobs and opportunities. And that is where we, as Student Affairs professionals and individuals in higher education, can come in, and help guide them in changing over to a professional use of social media.

All I know is that I’ve gotten a new perspective after my experience, and I know that I’ll be paying more attention to my audience and twisting my presentations to reflect this new perspective I have on “teaching” social media.

Just food for thought

Until next time!

Peace, Love and Pandas!


Published by Brian

I am currently the Assistant Director of Student Life for Registered Student Organizations and Late-Night Programming at Michigan State University. After earning my B.A. from the University of Michigan-Flint, I entered the Student Affairs profession. After a few years in the field, I returned to school and earned my M.A. in Educational Leadership-Higher Education Student Affairs from Eastern Michigan University. In my spare time I blog about my thoughts and musings on current issues in higher education, student affairs, digital worlds, identity development and general life inspirations and observations. I also volunteer a lot for my fraternity and multiple regional and national professional associations.

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