When Bill, a 40-something displaced worker taking classes at Milwaukee Area Technical College, was told he would be required to engage in several forms of social media throughout a course, he balked at the idea.

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Seven in 10 professors use social media for personal purposes.

“His arms were folded, and he said politely but firmly that he didn’t think social media was ‘worth’ using,” said Larry Domine, an instructor for the course. Domine told Bill to just follow his instructions, anyway.

“Just do everything I tell you,” he recalled telling the student. After one semester on the professional social network LinkedIn, Bill was hired at a major company.

It sounds like an eye-rolling before-and-after scenario from an infomercial, but Domine said that Bill, whose last name has been omitted for student confidentiality reasons, is one of several students who have managed to find work using the lessons learned in his “Social Networking and Business Communications” course.

“I can repeat this story every semester,” Domine said.

There was the Iraq War veteran who knew network computing in-and-out, but not how to network with people. Now, he has a full time IT job.

This semester, a student got up in the middle of class to answer a phone call. Domine wasn’t offended – the student had just landed a job interview because of the course.

This student, too, started out as a social media skeptic. That’s a trait, Domine said, older learners share with too many instructors.

“Most instructors or professors aren’t really engaging well enough,” he said. “They have a fear of technology and what it’s doing. The fact that most instructors need to understand is, if you just start using social media, you’ll see the benefits.”

See page 2 for why educators are becoming more engaged in social media…


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