You get a welcoming email: "I'd like to invite you to..."
Then you realise it's a promotional invite to a social media or community management course. It can come from a university, a business school, a training centre or the sweet shop round the corner.
A course for 40 or 50 people, economically priced - let's say somewhere between $600 and $1,000 to talk about something quite standard - with trainers who're really good at explaining things, publishing books and tweeting. Hey! You're not really looking for anyone to explain anything, that's what YouTube tutorials are for! I bet that what you're looking for is how to do something that yields a result, improving what you do: customer service, turning fans into leads, visits turning to conversions or building believability among your audience. All of this, through practice of course, how else?!
I think that too much of what you invest in excitement and expectations on this course goes on networking, funny videos, metaphors, "tweetable" punch lines or dinner on Friday after class.
I'm practically certain that only 5-10 hours in a 110-hour course will go to insight, interesting debate, tension, connection, experience and provocation and, yes, it's certainly possible you'll hear one or two things that inspire or motivate you. However, I think we can agree that this isn't really the way of efficiently making a professional stand out in this (or any other) field. Note: think about what you'd get out of a 20-40 hour course.
The new "boom"
The failure in this type of "boom" is that when the course comes to an end, the organisers suffer because they try to be too many things at once and offer too many benefits that never arrive.
At first, being assaulted by a promotion for such a course may seem like a gift. It's OK to do it, take part and learn. The moment requires that you nod with your head and say yes. You should realise that you're becoming involved in this not because you truly believe in it; you're accepting because the system's making you, supposedly to adapt to the present times, it's the 'in' thing to do or you're unemployed.
Secondly, there are certain benefits for both the student and the creator of the course, master's or specialisation workshop. This training is carried out with a specific objective in mind: educating and teaching people to do something, showing them how in a manner that those attending the course will understand; this isn't for the benefit of teachers or the institution. The teaching centre benefits socially from organising the course, plus the fake benefit of feeling useful, valuable and changing lives. The student benefits socially from taking part in something that could change things but which currently doesn't really change much in reality or contribute anything truly new. However, it does provide an excuse not to do the work that needs to be done, as well as the commercial benefit of being part of a group trained not to think and simply obey.
Again, nothing of this benefits us.
That is why any education regarding new forms of communication and the social web are increasingly corrupted. Those attending such education are moved by motivations they won't find there: the element of "learning by doing something" simply won't happen.
Taking part in courses on community management or the social web, regardless of their educational status, is terribly overrated. In essence, the contents delivered in such courses have no true foundation, and so partaking in them boils down to: "I can afford it, it's bound to help improve my situation and it's something I have to do".
Do we need training in social media and community management to help with our work in this connected economy? You answer.
You're invited / shutterstock