Class Catalog COM 260: Introduction to Social Media

Megan McKay, Staff writer

COM260- Intro to Social Media explores basic concepts of social media and how modern technologies have changed the role of communications. As most know, social media has become a crucial part of everyday life. It has changed drastically and now serves as a form of communication more prevalent than the ring of a telephone.
So why would a college student be interested in learning about social media? Well, it turns out there is a lot more behind the intricacies of social media than we perceive. The course’s originator here at Mercyhurst, Brian Sheridan, has taken the time to help break down COM260. Sheridan is the current chair of the Communications Department. Whether you are a communication major or not, learning about social media is a unique opportunity and could be a great class to add in and even a start to earning a communications minor or major.
For starters, the class has been taught since 2009 and it began as “New Media” after Sheridan attended a conference in Dallas, TX. He learned the specifics and significance of adding the course for our generation. The class was eventually renamed, “Intro to Social Media” as it has become the more modern verbiage. Sheridan initially described the setup of the course and how it scratches the surface on its integration into society. The most unique aspect of the course is the flexibility. The course does not follow a textbook, which Sheridan mentioned was the biggest challenge while teaching the course but that only means that students are receiving consistently relevant information, which makes it more engaging for students. Sheridan also stated how the course cannot be taught from a technical standpoint because if it was, he would be instructing students about Myspace. This type of course certainly follows unconventional but quite valuable lessons. Students taking the course can expect to learn about the most prevalent social media outlooks. He described when he first started teaching the course students did not have computers and hardly any phones.
Students taking the course can expect to explore all aspects of social media including gaining experience through a project that involves either vlogging or blogging. Students also get used to the writing forms of certain platforms and learn how to build their brands and demonstrate their interests through social media. Communications courses like Intro to Social Media are certainly not just courses for students in the major only but also for anyone looking to gain crucial social media skills.
“We get a lot of different students, there are students from Intel studies, we often have double majors, even some who are dance majors that will take it with the idea that once they graduate or are done with their career, they would like to have another avenue to pursue their passion through influencing. Social media gives people that opportunity because every place uses it to get their brand out to customers,” said Sheridan. The study of social media can be a beneficial area of study especially as it is taught at a student level for free. It is inescapable in any profession. Sheridan continued with the uniqueness of it saying, “We try to demonstrate the foundations and the underlying strategies. Everybody is involved in social media now so it is helpful whether you are in business because you might not be in journalism, but you might deal with journalist as a leader or entrepreneur or dealing with the public. It is good to know these things to adopt what they have done whether it is advertising, marketing, or public relations.” Part of the goal is to instruct more students and educators that communications play a crucial role and ties into every single profession. Social media is a great tool for students to learn to incorporate in their future endeavors and especially in a job setting. The world we live in is changing very rapidly and social media has become a major stepping stone for newer platforms and forms of communication to follow. The course has been taught every year since it started and was even taught at Northeast. It is also being offered in Fall 2023.