Social Media Relevance at HBCU’s
by William Jackson, Prof. Edward Waters College
Historically Black College and University
“Social media is changing the way we communicate and the
way we are perceived, both positively and negatively. Every time
you post a photo, or update your status, you are contributing to
your own digital footprint and personal brand.” Amy Jo Martin
CEO of Digital Royalty
There is real relevance for Social Media at HBCU’s that has
firmly been established as an increasing number of colleges and
universities post content online that enables students to use
Smartphones, Tables, Laptops and other devices that can access
wireless signals to access Social Media platforms and tools.
The empowerment and engagement of Social Media is seen
when those same devices allow students to post their content
back for the completion of lessons, projects, and research.
In my Educational Technology class at Edward Waters College,
the oldest HBCU in Florida, the process is to use Blogging to post
content that encourages engagement in reading, research, analytical
thought and using those tools to post content that requires students
to think in diverse ways. Diversity is not just culturally or gender wise
it is academically also. Higher education is an environment that
should promote and challenge independent and dynamic thinking.
Even when the students are not exposed to this in high school or
lack cognitive tools because of the lack of exposure. HBCU’s are
preparing students for careers that have real world consequences
and the integration of technology.
My instruction covers the areas that students would not normally think
to apply from historical applications to bringing the relevancy and
need for implementation of technology and Social Media. As future
educators, whether in the public education level, collegiate or other
avenues HBCU students not only must be aware of how Social Media
tools work, but how to effectively and efficiently to apply them for
The same can be said for the business, science, arts, engineering and
other disciples. The platforms of Facebook, LinkedIn, Youtude, Twitter,
Pinterest, etc open digital doors for permanently posting content that will
be accessible for years. Making available for future research and
development information and data.
Social Media allows for digital engagement, this engagement will
permanently be posted, housed, archived and backed-up for continued
use. Unless removed through electronic and digital means all information
can be accessible as long as there are links to the content. One of the
growing issues in using Social Media is how will content be used to promote
a student at an HBCU, how can their content show intellectualism, critical
and higher order thinking abilities. HBCU students need to use Social Media
beyond postings from parties, sexual conquests, involvement in sporting
events, drama filled altercations and even the growing number of “Selfies.”
Employers before considering if they will hire someone especially from an
HBCU will research, analyze, scrutinize and question that student’s ability
to display professional mannerisms and maturities. Social Media influences
perceptions, concepts, and interpretations about a person or group. The
Social aspect of Social Media is a powerful connection of interactions and
exchanges, but these exchanges can be negative and positive. Perception
is a powerful force when the only interaction is a picture, video or tweet.
Jeff Barrett (@barrettall) “Companies are looking to be quicker with content,
provide faster approval and be able to capitalize on the conversation and
content of the moment.”
Businesses, corporations, governments, school districts, non-profits, and even
religious organizations are researching volunteers and potential employees.
Human resource departments have their individual and collective policies and
practices when researching a person and the use of technologies that will
access information not only of that person, but family members, friends,
religious, political and sexual preferences. The growing access to a person’s
credit score, financial history and medical history are controversial, but still
a reality. There are no secrets and HBCU students need to understand this
before they make a mistake that could cost them a job, a salary bonus, an
internship, scholarship or a dream career.
If we (educators) do not teach HBCU students about Social Media safety
and common sense we are exposing students to the dangers of ignorance.
Where their content will be misinterpreted and create perceptions of negativity
and doubt in student’s ability to perform on a level of excellence and
Questions still asked, should HBCU students be taught the proper way
to engage with email, that is similar to teaching students proper
engagement with their cell phones. Employers are listening to the musical
overtones, beats, lyrical expressions and musical abilities by students on
their phones, employers in some cases hanging-up before talking to a
student and offering a job interview.
Employers are looking at email addresses, instant replies and signatures
determining the professionalism of these students.
HBCU student’s first impressions to the world are through their
electronic devices. What impressions are they giving potential
employers even before the application and interview process?
Yacine Baroudi (@yacinebaroudi) “Our digital future is about
enabling better productivity and decisions making to enjoy a better
quality of life.”
HBCU students need to know how to email with etiquette and
should know how to title a subject and write intelligently with proper
grammar and proper spelling. Students will send thousands of emails
in their lifetime and should learn early how to create professional and
purpose filled emails, this should not be a “learn as you go” and
learn by your mistakes. Once a perception of lack of grammar and
spelling is shown this is a turn off for potential employees.
Teaching Social Media at HBCU’s requires engagement and applying
tools that permit diversification in communication. Students should
understand and be able to Podcast, Microblog on Twitter, Facebook
with a business mind, Blog using appropriate grammar, spelling and
with a passion, implement a Youtude channel and understand how
to build a following from a broad based spectrum of the community.
HBCU students need to take advantage of attending conferences, workshops,
seminars and professional development opportunities to develop the skills
necessary to compete and interact in digital communities.
Social Media Elevation Raises HBCU Status