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Dr. Matthew Kushin publishes book on teaching social media

ISSUED: 12 September 2019
MEDIA CONTACT: Valerie Owens

SHEPHERDSTOWN, WV — Shepherd University’s Dr. Matthew Kushin, associate professor of mass communications, has published the book “Teach Social Media: A Plan for Creating a Course Your Students Will Love.” In nine chapters and 216 pages, the book lays out a plan for creating a social media class that offers hands-on experience for students studying public relations, marketing, and related fields.

“As a professor, I have been blogging about teaching social media at MattKushin.com since 2013,” Kushin said. “Often, I share assignments and exercises on that blog, but blogs as a medium are limited because the articles are single units. At best, they can be strung into series—which I’ve done quite a bit. But writing blog posts about disparate assignments cannot bring together the meta-organization that goes into planning a class.”

The book is geared toward English-speaking college professors and high school instructors worldwide who teach social media in public relations or marketing. Kushin said there is growing pressure on faculty and universities to teach social media to prepare students for the demands of the labor market. He points to survey data from the 2017 report on undergraduate education published by the Commission on Public Relations Education. It suggests employers find entry-level employees don’t have the needed skills in social media management, research, and analytics or the desired creative thinking, critical thinking, and problem-solving abilities.

“Clearly, there is a need to teach these skills,” said Kushin, who has been teaching social media in the classroom since 2008. “I hope the book helps educators prepare to teach this topic confidently. Teaching social media is one of the most challenging, yet rewarding, classes I have taught. It can be a real struggle because the social media landscape is in constant flux.”

One hallmark of Kushin’s social media courses is the hands-on experience offered to students by providing the opportunity to create and execute a social media plan for a real organization with real followers.

“This book teaches professors to create their own quasi-agency within their class,” Kushin said. “It provides them with exercises and assignments for using industry tools in the classroom in a way that helps students develop knowledge, skills, and abilities.”

The book, which has a cover designed by Brad Hamann, assistant professor of graphic design, emphasizes helping professors and programs with little funding and external resources because programs often struggle to find money to pay for expensive software and equipment.

“It is always a balance between the desire to have industry-leading software in the classroom and the need to work within limited budgets,” Kushin said. “I emphasize free and low-cost professional resources in the book.”

Kushin said there are many social media textbooks available for students, but there is a dearth of content for educators who have to work hard to stay abreast of an ever-changing media landscape and offer their students a robust education. “Teach Social Media: A Plan for Creating a Course Your Students Will Love” offers an end-to-end plan for creating and executing a social media class from scratch that spans the entire semester. It contains a 15-week plan, including lesson plans, hands-on exercises, and assignments. Each chapter builds upon the preceding one to teach students new skills.

“I am thrilled to have this book published,” Kushin said. “The reception has been inspiring and humbling. In the few weeks the book has been published, I have received comments from professors expressing how useful they have found it as a tool for preparing their courses. I’ve received social media posts from professors showing photos of how they’re using the material in the book in their classes.”

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