[We’re pleased to welcome authors Dr. Alexandra K. Abney of the University of Alabama at Birmingham, Laurel A. Cook of West Virginia University, Alexa K. Fox of the University of Akron, and Jennifer Stevens of the University of Toledo. They recently published an article in the Journal of Marketing Education entitled “Intercollegiate Social Media Education Ecosystem,” which is currently free to read for a limited time. Below, Dr. Cook recounts the motivations and innovations of this research:]
What motivated you to pursue this research?
There are so many ways that technology can enhance our lives. Social media is a great example. Specifically, Twitter allows us to connect with people around the globe and we sought to expand this connectivity into our classrooms. We [the authors] knew each other and we were each trying various ways to bring social media into the classroom. However, we also knew our students may never have the chance to interact with one another, given our geographical dispersion. In response, our intercollegiate Twitter collaboration was initiated. As we continued to see success with this project in the classroom, we thought it would be a great opportunity to analyze the linguistic content of the tweets and capture student perceptions of the project to share the project with our fellow marketing educators. We strongly encourage JME readers to join us to offer the benefits we describe in our paper to more marketing students.
Were there any specific external events—political, social, or economic—that influenced your decision to pursue this research?
For marketers, the Super Bowl is a time to witness top marketing and advertising trends in action. Over the last few years (i.e., prior to the development of this project), live tweeting to discuss ads during the Super Bowl had become a popular practice with marketers around the world. As marketing educators, we [the authors] often participated in these live tweeting events. These experiences allowed us to interact not only with other marketing faculty, but with marketing practitioners and brands as well. As a group, we joined together with the hopes of bringing a similar experience into the classroom for our students through our novel intercollegiate Twitter project. Each week we created questions within the collaboration that centered around marketing hot topics and other current events (i.e. Olympics, etc.). We then measured the impact of this project in terms of student learning perceptions and linguistic analyses. This project has been so successful, it has continued each semester thereafter!
In what ways is your research innovative, and how do you think it will impact the field?
Our research offers insight into how students can use technology engage with one another beyond the walls of the classroom. In doing so, we offer an ecosystem for collaboration among students who are unlikely to interact in other settings, broadening their educational horizons and understanding of the global business landscape, all while building important communication skills. With our innovative social media education ecosystem (SMEE) we were able to (1) develop and reinforce class concepts; (2) improve learning perceptions and behavioral intent; (3) increase the reach of students’ marketing-related discussions; (4) develop professional identities and communication skills; and (5) grow each student’s network through connections with peers and marketing professionals in the United States.
What advice would you give to new scholars and incoming researchers in this particular field of study?
Technological advances will continue to be an important part of our society. The challenge will always be understanding how such advances can be used effectively and for the betterment of our society. We encourage researchers to examine how the power we have at our fingertips can be used to foster unique relationships and spread knowledge across our very interconnected world.