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Published by Kevin O'Keefe, CEO & Founder of LexBlog

Universities integrating social media to help students. Law schools?

November 1, 2013

University professors social mediaBecause of the increasing use of social media as a corporate function, university professors are taking steps to acclimate students to using social media in a professional manner. This per Jake Jones in The Reflector, Mississippi State’s student newspaper.

John Forde, professor and head of the Mississippi State University Department of Communication, said he has “Twitter sessions” in his classes. In these sessions students are encouraged to tweet their thoughts and questions under the hashtag #MSUPR.

……

Amanda Powers, associate professor and the interim head of the Mitchell Memorial Library research department, said she highlights the importance for students to be able to use social media professionally.

Per Powers (@amandaclay):

The idea is to make (students) aware of how important their social presence is. It’s not really intended to scare people into cleaning it up, although that’s certainly a part of it, but also how to leverage it to have all the tools at your disposal. (emphasis added)

Ford (@JohnEFordeAPR) and Powers are not alone in their use of social media. According to Babson Survey Research Group, 40 percent of higher education faculty use social media as a teaching tool, and 55 percent of faculty members use social media for professional communications.

Sure faculty such as Forde and Powers see privacy and distraction of students as issues with social media. But they see the need for students to be using social media as outweighing any concerns. Otherwise students are leaving school ill prepared for the future.

Where are law professors and law schools in empowering law students to use social media for learning, growing a network, and building a reputation?

I am not in law schools every day, but my guess is that law schools don’t see integrating the use of social media in learning as a responsibility of theirs. I also question how many law professors, placement professionals, and law school deans get social media. Have they experienced how personally rewarding the effective use of social media is – in learning and in building reputation.

At a time when law grads are having a tough time getting a job and an impossible time distinguishing themselves from other grads, I’d like to think law schools would prepare their grads like Powers and Forde are trying to do.

But what are law schools doing to help their students when it comes to social media? Are school professors integrating blogging and social media into coursework?  Are law school deans and placement officials empowering law student to use social media to help them gain employment in the law? I’m afraid of the answer.

Image courtesy of Flickr by Ken Lund.