Although social networks and the world of social media have been in existence for more than a decade now, it has taken a long time for our educational system to catch up with the way that people currently communicate with each other. Instead, high education has been pecking at the subject, unsure of what to make of it.
(Mind you, I'm not talking about students adopting social media, which happened almost overnight, but instead how the institutions of higher education have been slow or reluctant to integrate the subject into the curriculum.)
While there has been, for a few years actually, the occasional news story about a forward-thinking professor offering up a class in social media, as this Syracuse professor did way back in 2012, there hasn't really been a concerted effort on the part of colleges to offer something like a real degree, on the undergraduate or graduate level, until very recently. And this is in spite of students themselves declaring that this new way of communicating should be a part of their educations.
Part of the reason it has taken so long is the perception of how social media is professionally managed. It is usually seen as something the younger whiz kid in the office takes care of because he's always been taking care of it. The thought is often that, because the younger generation grew up with it, there isn't really a need to 'teach' it in any serious or professional manner, any more than someone twenty or thirty years ago would need to take a class on how to use a telephone.
But that perception is changing. While a Google search for "degree in social media" retrieves a depressing number of ads from the type of colleges that advertise on late night television, it also reveals degrees being offered from well-established institutions. Georgetown University and Pierce College are offering continuing education certificates in Social Media Management and Social Media Marketing, respectively. And the University of Florida has a Master's Degree in Social Media with their online program.
However, that same Google search also brings up, intermingled with the degree offerings, links to articles such as "Five reasons why you should never, ever get a master's degree in social media" from the Silicon Valley Business Journal and "Do You Need a Degree in Social Media? No Way, Some Experts Say" from the Huffington Post's business section.
A proficiency with social media is becoming a prerequisite skill for employees, if only to communicate on such internal social networks such as Slack. More and more jobs require the use of social media in one way or another. Business is now social. So it might be a better idea not to offer higher education degrees in the subject, but to integrate any education in the subject into our secondary education, or perhaps even earlier.