The overwhelming responsibilities of teaching social media

I’m finding myself a little overwhelmed these days. Like my students, friends and colleagues, life is suddenly overwhelming. There are simply not enough hours in the day or days in the week to get everything done. If I didn’t have a husband who knows his way around the kitchen and laundry room without a map, I’d be starving and look like a homeless person. Teaching three writing classes and one graduate PR class is too much for one mortal, but somehow I’m doing it, although I’m constantly terrified I’m not serving my students well. And then there are the faculty committees, and the few outside activities I allow time for. The house isn’t as clean as I’d like it to be, but it’s livable. The dog and cats still recognize me, and that’s good.

But what do we really need to do? I just spent two hours on Tweet chats with online friends, students and strangers from all over the world. I got some good ideas, but is my life changed by these information exchanges? Probably not. But it’s one of those things I “have” to do. And who makes me feel like I have to do it? I do. It’s self-inflicted overachievement torture.

I’m also feeling overwhelmed because I’m trying to absorb every detail about social media that I can find before classes start in January. You see, I’ve been asked by the faculty to teach a much-needed social media class at UNT. It’s much needed because PR and advertising students are expected to know social media applications and strategies before they graduate. But at the beginning of this semester, a large proportion of my students didn’t have a Twitter account, weren’t blogging, and still don’t know about Digg, Delicious, and Google Analytics. They start internships and come to me in a panic because their supervisors expect them to take over social media for the clients. They’re overwhelmed, too.

There’s simply too much information out there for one person to know and disseminate to eager young minds. So that’s why I’ll be crowdsourcing many aspects of the social media class next semester.

Why should that class be based on one person’s point of view? You can’t tell me there’s one human being anywhere who knows everything about social media and its strategic uses. The topic is a moving target, changing and evolving like rapidly mutating cellular material. I expect my students will be contributing as much to the class as I am, along with my expert guest speakers. 

Isn’t that the point of social media? To share and disseminate information? To work in communities with the expertise of the best and brightest coming to the forefront?  I look forward to their input, which is why I’ve already set up a Facebook page (Eagle Strategies) and a LinkedIn group. Get them started early. Start the conversation now, so it’s up and running by the first day of class. Bring my professional friends into the conversation.  We all learn from each other.

I’m not feeling as overwhelmed now.  I’ve decided to facilitate the social media class rather than teach it.  Because the learning will come from the doing, and I can’t make them do, only facilitate what they’re doing.

Let me know what you think.