Social Media to the unsuspecting – My experiences of teaching a batch of 60

Social media teach, social media

There’s always the concept of power users; of people who’ve been in the industry too long, of having been there, done that too often, having done it over and over.

So what do you do if you’re thrown in front of a class of 60 unsuspecting minds to explain to them from scratch, what it is, this hoopla world of Social Media? Students ranging from 17-24 years sit in an AC classroom of the NMIMS campus (HMFIJ) for two hours every week to understand the realm of the social networks; students who’ve never ‘socialized’ other than some trigger-happy ‘Liking’ on Facebook or some viral videos on YouTube.

How do you go about teaching them? Simple, begin with a blow-them-away session with cool case studies, huge volumes, cross functional platforms and more importantly – displaying the immense amount of virtual people partaking in the same. From BlendTec’s ‘Will it Blend?’ to more localized case studies like the Mitsubishi Cedia Driving Challenge, from Old Spice’s videos  to Kolaveri Di’s success – leave them starry-eyed with it all. Once they’re hooked, drag them back to the drawing board with ‘how it all started’; with the creation of the platform in itself, its history, problems, luck of adoption and move on to the creation of presences and how-to’s of the same.

Throw in a few fun projects like mashups and gamification (Farmville, Monopoly City Streets, Oceanopolis), social media tool demonstrations, even screening The Social Network movie and you have a recipe for success. Bring in experienced guest lecturers like Sanjay (running a massively staffed, exclusive social media agency can’t be easy peasy) and Vineet (free beer to those who can tell me some of the best reasons to Blog, logically, without the business sense) and the students lap it up and ask for more.

And then there’s the discovering the hidden gems – some  students who are national level singers, choreographers, budding dancers, others who are thriving businesswomen with near e-commerce businesses on BlackBerry Messenger (Case Study worthy stuff, I tell you), cake and pastry chefs that run their household with their skill at the age of 17, Sports science researchers, avid gamers and actors in-the-making – this motley crew of 60 has them all.

Personally, what makes me endure the travel and enjoy the long hours is the completely pertinent insights and’ I’d-not-thought-of-that’ questions that get pulled out of my two hour teaching process. Add to that a dozen starry eyes, open mouths and gasps at custom YouTube channels, and my satisfaction knows no bounds. There is no unlearning to do, no misconceptions of the social world starting and ending at Facebook, no concept of gauging success through numbers alone, and no closed minds about newer, niche platforms that haven’t picked as yet in local markets.

They say good teaching is more a giving of right questions than a giving of right answers, but with students who have the right questions, it’s easier to push them to figure out the right answers without the proverbial spoon-feeding.

Everyone who’s passionate should teach, doesn’t matter what you teach about. It helps mobilize your learning curve; helps see things from a layman’s perspective when experience renders you limited empathy. For me it’s the lasting relationships, the farewell tears, the snippets of advice and the sharing of achievements they come for, the unconditional love they give and the thirst they display that makes you believe you’ve just taught the next Clinton (excuse the cliché).

What does teaching do for you?