Social Media Space in Public Relations Education

Amy Thurlow, Mount Saint Vincent University
Anthony R. Yue, Mount Saint Vincent University

The rapid adoption of social media and social networking tools by the disciplines of public relations and communication management has essentially mirrored the rise of the use of such tools by the population at large. Although social media has become an important component of curriculum development within faculties of professional communication, the focus has been largely on the technological skills associated with these media, and not the broader context of communication in which they operate (Jenkins, 2009). As public relations and communication management programs scramble to ensure students are exposed to new digital media technologies, there has been little recognition of the ethical implications of these media in terms of academic responsibility and jurisdictional boundaries within and around the virtual classroom (Scott, 2008).
In this poster presentation, we examine the results of interviews and subsequent focus groups concerning the boundary spanning aspects of social media and the morphing role of educators in such a luminal space. Early findings from this research concern ethics, authority, boundaries and complex competing understandings of the role of individuals in the social media space.
There are both theoretic and pragmatic consequences that arise from the ongoing experimentation with social media in, through and beyond the classroom. Are there implications beyond simple student training concerning this adoption of social media by educators? This study indicates that policy implications regarding the obligation of universities and other institutions to prepare students for use of social media may become increasingly important in professional studies education. Perhaps a “media literacy” approach may offer new possibilities for understanding the impact of new media technologies on professional education.

For PDF of related poster click here.

Brent Wilson King
Amy Thurlow APR, PhD, 
Associate Professor
Mount Saint Vincent University
Amy Thurlow has been teaching public relations and business communication for the past nine years. Before joining the Mount's faculty in 2005, she taught communications at the Fred C. Manning School of Business at Acadia University. Prior to that, she was the program coordinator for the Advanced Diploma in Public Relations at the Nova Scotia Community College where she was responsible for program delivery and development.

Amy has a PhD in management. Her research is in the area of organizational communication and change. She holds an MA in International Development Studies from Saint Mary's University in Halifax, and a Bachelor of Public Relations degree from Mount Saint Vincent University. She is an accredited public relations practitioner (APR) and a member of the Canadian Public Relations Society.