Digital Dialogue: Ashish Gurung on incorporating social media in the classroom

Nov 15, 2011

The following was originally published on Invoke’s blog and authored by Justine Yu.

Ashish Gurung teaches an undergraduate social media course at SFU Beedie School of Business. He is also involved with a bunch of other stuff ‚ some startups, some consulting and lots of non-profits. Find him@ashishgurung and

Tell us a bit about the social media course you created. What motivated you to create an entire course about social media at SFU’s Beedie School of Business?

Jan Kietzmann, a SFU professor, had the idea to bring social media to the business school. We noticed students were entering the work force with little or no formal education in social media. So, we paired up to teach this course. This is the first course dedicated to social media at the SFU Beedie School of Business. It just makes sense — students need to be educated about social media, especially from a business-driven context. It’s a natural and needed extension to our undergraduate program. Plus our class reached the waiting list within a few days of registration.

Why do you think it’s important for students to learn about and familiarize themselves with social media?

It’s important for our students to not only learn about current trends in social media, but to understand social media as a whole – from learning about behavioural economics, to virality and building communities. We’re bringing the gap between the classroom and industry. We’re skyping in awesome startups like Summify and Launchrock, and the students get a chance to meet leaders from InvokeHootSuite and EA. It’s a great balance between theory and practical applications. Students will be leaving our class with a greater understanding of social media and its impact on both society and businesses.

Why do you think it’s important to incorporate social media in universities and lecture halls?

I think it’s very important to incorporate social media in our classrooms. I know many instructors who still don’t believe in the power of social media and refuse to integrate it in their classrooms. It’s how the students communicate with each other — it’s how they hear the news. There’s a high probability that students are browsing Facebook while in class. It’s important to now use these tools to enhance the learning experience.

Invoke: Where do you see the future of social media in the classroom?

Our class uses a Facebook group and Twitter chat (#bus495) to communicate with each other and it’s awesome. Students are posting articles, comments and having discussions everyday on our Facebook group and Twitter chat. I’m surprised by how much the students have embraced it — they’re communicating with each other, getting to know each other and are having intelligent conversations over these channels. As the instructors, we’re using Facebook to post online notes, presentations and class updates. I’m hoping to see more classrooms embrace social media. The goal is to create a culture in the classroom where students are learning from each other and from the instructors. I believe we’ll start to see educators adopt web apps that encourage a social learning environment.

What are your top five industry sites that you check out on a regular basis?

Hacker News Summify, 
HootsuiteSocial Media Examiner and TechCrunch.

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