I’m confused. There’s always more we can and should be teaching students, but social media? What does a digital native, born close to 1990, need to learn from a digital immigrant who graduated before the IBM PC was launched in the UK, and who wrote magazine articles back in the 1980s about how businesses were adopting a new communications device, the fax machine? The telephone has been the most important communications device for PR practitioners for the last century – but we don’t teach students how to communicate by phone. Perhaps we should.
So I asked Natalie Smith to help me. She’s just completed her first year and is now on a placement at Wolfstar, and I’ll be using her list to guide me next year.
But note how Natalie’s learning through doing. It might be self-defeating for a university lecturer to admit it, but there’s something rather passive about only learning through teaching. Besides, here’s a list of some of the things I might have taught in the past that would seem useless today: WordPerfect for DOS; desktop publishing; using a scanner; network protocols; research using online databases; using bulletin boards; CB radio…
It helps to distinguish between teaching principles – which shouldn’t change – and teaching practice, which can date very rapidly. And to realise in all humility that it matters less what you teach than what students learn.