The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus


SMU Professors Using Social Media in the Classroom

Christopher Saul / The Daily Campus
Dr. Ben Voth, chair of SMU’s communications studies division, uses social media in the classroom such as Facebook and WordPress.

Dr. Ben Voth, chair of SMU’s communications studies division, uses social media in the classroom such as Facebook and WordPress. (Christopher Saul / The Daily Campus)


While professor Michael Lysko is talking to the students in his sports practicum class, every single one of them is on their computer. Whether checking out pictures on Facebook, stories on Twitter or scores on ESPN, it would seem like the students are not paying attention and disobeying class rules.

Although most teachers don’t like when students are staring at their laptops or phones during a lecture, professor Lysko is different. In the past, teachers have seen computer usage as a sign of disrespect, laziness and lack of caring, but not Lysko. He demands all of his students be on the cutting edge of technology and has started incorporating the use of social media as a major part of his class curriculum.

“We live in the 21st century and one of the defining characteristics of it is 24/7 communication and getting information fast,” says Taylor Reed, who manages the department’s social media team. “By incorporating social media into courses, professors like Michael Lysko are giving their students an edge.”

Students in the applied physiology and sports management department are each required to tweet or post on Facebook about sports business related topics a minimum of seven times per week. They are also encouraged to connect with people on Linkedin and Facebook that can help them build a network. Lysko, who is the director and a professor of the APSM department, stresses the importance of the access and connections that social media provides.

“It’s an extraordinary tool and resource for gaining knowledge,” Lysko says. “I believe very strongly that it’s important for the students to be conversant. If you’re following the right people, you can really be informed and engaged.”

Lysko is not the only teacher who believes in social media as a learning tool. According to a survey on Feb. 7 by Justin Ferriman of, about 29 percent of teachers use social networking for instruction and 15 percent said they find real value in Facebook and other social media sites.

The journalism department at SMU has also started using social media devices as learning tools. Classes like digital journalism and reporting have students consistently on the Internet researching and studying. Michelle Houston, a journalism professor, says to think of it as a way to make professional connections and learn about your career field.

“Our students are taught to use social media platforms as journalism tools,” she explains. “It offers a variety of benefits. How students choose to embrace social media should be driven by their goals.”

Of course, not every student and teacher is quick to adjust. The exposure social media outlets provide can be a difficult adjustment and make people uncomfortable. If the Internet is not used properly, there can always be bad consequences. According to Ferriman, 52 percent of school prohibits any use of social networking on campus and 69 percent still prohibit the use of cell phones.

“Any form of social media can take over if you let it, so be careful,” warns Lysko.

“Twitter and Facebook are very public. You need to have a consistently professional presence.”

There is also the concern of social media becoming a distraction during class. Allowing students the freedom to use their computers and phones can always lead to problems, but Houston and Lysko are not worried.

“I don’t see social media as a disadvantage in a classroom,” says Houston. “Some students get distracted by it, but students have always found ways to daydream or otherwise check out when they’re not engaged.”

The students who have grown comfortable with social media have started to realize the benefits are endless. It’s the perfect combination of entertainment, information, and connections for anyone trying to learn more about the world around them.

“In just five minutes, I can learn so much from being on Twitter,” explains Cole Riddell, a 21-year-old student. “The people I follow keep me informed on what’s going on, whether it’s a reporter, athlete, or even just a friend.”

The consumption of information is a major benefit, but Lysko also wants students to see their social media pages as almost a second resume. Twitter and other social media outlets are a hot topic out in the corporate world. By knowing the basics for each platform, Lysko believes you can make yourself an asset to your company’s bottom line or set you apart from other applicants.

“In some ways, I feel it’s almost our responsibility to make sure the students in our program are extremely well versed and comfortable with social media,” he explains. “I think it is here to stay because it is how everyone consumes information and knowledge nowadays.”

Again, Lysko and Houston are not alone in this thinking. According to a poll by PBS on Feb. 4, seven in 10 teachers surveyed said educational technology allows them to “do much more than ever before” for their students and more than two-thirds of teachers expressed a desire for more classroom technology.

Inevitably, everyone will join some form of social media outlet and college campuses will be able to connect with one another easily. Students at SMU are realizing that they can’t ignore this technology any longer.

“I tried to avoid joining Twitter for a long time because I didn’t understand everyone’s obsession with it,” said Patrick Lindley, a sports management major. “Once Lysko made me join, I realized how stupid I was being before. I can literally get information on anything I want.”

Lysko and the APSM department are proud of their incorporation of social media into the program. Currently, the department’s Facebook page is up to 184 likes and the Twitter handle (@SMUSportMgt) is at 271 followers.

“We involve our fans by posting weekly updates about our program like various application deadlines and open-ended questions regarding sports marketing related current events,” says DeDe Mitchell, the Facebook page operator. “It’s all about successfully leveraging social media and engaging your followers.”

For Lysko, it’s simple. Students should want to be informed and connected with those around them. If a student refuses, they will fall behind.

“I think it’s a great way to exchange information, ideas or dialogue,” he says.

“It’s fun, it’s easy and it’s better to be engaged. I mean seriously, how can you not want to be more informed?”


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