Social Media Class Tackles Political Campaigning

A fictitious town is the site of a political race that will give candidates a leg up on the competition if they use social media wisely.

by / September 9, 2014

Politics is in the air in NYU Land, and three candidates are planning the race of their lives to defeat the incumbent mayor this fall.

Their campaigns will kick into high gear over the next month as they take to social media to make their cases. Along the way, they'll have to figure out how to respond to issues like drone policies, transportation strikes and city Wi-Fi proposals from a tech giant.

While NYU Land only exists in social media, its presence there lays a foundation for real citizens to run for office. And adjunct professor Mike Fraietta hopes that his Social Media in Politics online course will shake up political campaigning.

"Politics itself is way behind, and it hasn't been disrupted as much as other industries have," Fraietta said. "If I could help educate others so that politics in general can move forward, I'd be a much happier person." 

Many professionals have been in politics for 10 or 20 years, but don't know how to tell Facebook from Twitter, or that each site has nuances that they must pay attention to when they campaign, Fraietta said. This class, which was offered for the first time in the summer, will help level them up and guide them in the right direction.

Students in NYU's course this fall will learn how to campaign on social media by actually campaigning on social media. While they will use platforms including Reddit and Twitter, their learning is focused on the principles of social media campaigning so they can be applied to any platform down the road.

Gamification of the social Web is the best way to learn and practice, Fraietta said. His students will meet online over a four-week period for class at the same time and see one another through webcams. They'll also respond to the crisis of the week that's posted on the class blog and monitor social media. 

Instead of just treating social media as another one-way communication tool, they'll be figuring out how to interact and tailor their responses to each platform, he said. And ultimately, students will have experience in both managing relevant social networks and being prepared for the long term so they can see what's coming around the bend in social media. 

This story was originally published by the Center for Digital Education.

Tanya Roscorla Former Managing Editor, CDE

Tanya Roscorla covered ed tech from 2009-2017.

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