Ming Chuan University
Education in the Social Media Age
When it seems that almost superhuman powers and magic skills are needed to live up to the fickle media industry and its fragmented audiences, the practical courses at Ming Chuan University’s new media department prepare its students to navigate between the old and new media worlds
Education in the Social Media AgeBy Jenny Cheng
From CommonWealth Magazine (vol. 617 )
In March, Ma Chia-lin, a third-year student at the Department of New Media and Communication Administration of Ming Chuan University, will participate in an E-commerce competition hosted by China’s Alibaba Group.
With electronic commerce being a typical business school field, Ma effectively breaks down barriers to interdisciplinary research with her courageous foray into the world of commerce. In the past, Ma's department was far from being the most popular department within the School of Communication. Over the past two years, however, it has become a model case for successful university-industry collaboration.
Department chair Ni Yen-yuan, who doubles as dean of the School of Communication, correctly predicted the digital trends that are currently reshaping the media landscape. He decided to focus on social media marketing to ride the wave of transformation. “Online community management, infographics, and personalized media are all future trends. Everyone has a fan page and no longer relies on traditional media,” says Ni, who learned his trade in the traditional media.
Online Community Marketing Skills
Amid changing trends, students need to be equipped with diverse skills. Ni believes that students need to build a broad array of new skills, such as cloud information management, digital curation, and data mining. However, traditional journalistic training and practices - reporting and writing, taking photographs and shooting footage – and the basics of traditional marketing are equally essential; the only difference is that they are being applied in the new media environment.
In practical courses, students learn about computer graphics, website traffic analytics, visitor tracking for age and interests, as well as search engine marketing. Aside from including digital technologies in general courses, the department also encourages students to get certified for Google Analytics courses.
Once they have learned new skills, the students need to test them on the job. During internships in year three, they can show off their expertise in e-book creation, online community management, webpage design, and search engine marketing while helping companies produce and place advertisement. “When you see the reach of an ad, you feel a strong sense of accomplishment,” remarks Ma.
Media and Data
The students’ customers come from all over the field, ranging from the Guo Guang Opera Company to a stationery manufacturer, or the National Center for Traditional Arts in Ilan, for which they designed an app. One manufacturer gave the department 50 Facebook accounts to let the students run an online community marketing campaign and further develop its e-commerce.
In addition to curriculum changes, faculty is also crucial to transforming the department. Six of its teaching staff have information technology backgrounds and teach data base management, data analytics and computer graphics.
Lecturer Lin Hsin-hsiung, who is an information management expert, also needed some time to adjust to the department’s interdisciplinary approach. Guest lectures by industry insiders also contribute to injecting new ideas and transforming established thinking.
The department has also introduced 360-degree video and virtual reality courses. Moreover, the digital editing studio is planning to set up a virtual reality lab.
The doors of the old school Media News Editing Room at the end of the corridor are tightly shut on the eve of the new semester. In comparison, the Center for Digital Media and Communication and the Virtual Studio are brimming with students in what seems a telltale sign of where the media industry is headed.
Translated from the Chinese by Susanne Ganz
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