The world as we know it is increasingly digitized and higher education is no exception. The days of banning cell phones and locking them in the professors’ drawers are over.

According to a Pearson Education Inc. Study, 41% of faculty surveyed used social media as a teaching tool in 2013, and more than half of higher education faculty replied that they used social media for professional purposes.

Edward Bochs, a Boston University Advertising professor, uses social platforms to share and distribute content, and to keep conversations going beyond the classroom. He references Springpad, a virtual notebook that allows him to share relevant content quickly and easily. Bochs also uses social media to teach students how to establish their own online presence. 

It seems the possibilities are endless when the digital world and education collide. Emerson College in Boston has already taken steps to proving the potential and promise of social media in the classroom.

Bostinno posted an article reporting that New England Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman is the next prospect for Emerson Social Media (#ESM), a course that targets a new celebrity each semester as a case study to come and speak to their class.

After hundreds of tweets, the class captured Edelman’s attention using #Edelman2Emerson.

While it may not seem like hard work at first glance, the work the students put into their social media plan translates to lessons learned outside of the classroom. They conducted extensive research, planned an interactive social media strategy, and used their combined creativity to get Edelman’s attention. 

Professor David Gerzof’s number one social media rule is to observe and listen, as he mentioned in a previous interview; which teaches important life lessons outside of Emerson. The students learn how to face problems and determine which approach will lead to the best solutions. They are also learning how to work as a team, which is useful for any environment.

When I was in college, many professors did not allow the use of laptops during class. Now, professors are encouraging students to bring their iPads, take out their cell phones, and start sharing information. Only the future will tell what digitizing the classroom will mean for education, but my feeling is: it will be bright.

Check out this infographic to see more results of the study.

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