Kutztown University unveils SMASH room for students
Kutztown University recently had a ribbon-cutting ceremony as the Department of Communication Studies officially opened the Social Media Analytics Strategic Hub in Rickenbach Learning Center.
KU President Kenneth S. Hawkinson, Provost Anne Zayaitz, Dr. Keith Massie, SMS area coordinator and Assistant Professor in Communication Studies and Dr. Robert “Moe” Folk, English professor and SMS program co-architect cut the ribbon.
This room will assist in student learning for the new Social Media Theory and Strategy major, one of the first created of this type in the United States
The SMASH room is an active learning space with innovative software and unique hardware, which will help teach the SMS major classes.
Students will have access to: NUI, a proprietary software to study analytics via real-time customizable data visualizations, Gephi, visualization software for graphs and networks, and Twitter Capture and Analysis Software, which is software for mining and archiving tweets. This is currently being used by Yale, the University of Texas at Austin, St. Joseph University and Boston University.
“The SMASH hub will provide a couple different advantages,” Massie explained. “Some are spatial advantages — the chairs are on rollers, so students can move easily.
“It is not set up to be a standard classroom where [students face] one direction. That’s advantageous because then we can work in groups.”
According to Kutztown University’s website, this program is interesting because graduates who complete the class will be able to seek careers in social media content development, management administration, marketing and analysis.
The knowledge students will receive about social media will allow KU graduates to have a competitive edge.
“There are a pretty wide range of jobs actually,” Massie said. “Social media managers, social media analysts, social media account specialists, social media representatives. It varies because it is a pretty new and emerging field, so there isn’t really a specific job title.”
Along with the Social Media Theory and Strategy major, KU will have a minor for the program available to students in spring 2019.
“The minor will include a writing for social media class, a principals of marketing class, a social media analytics class and an introduction course to social media theory and strategy class,” Massie said.
“These are the four required courses besides electives for the minor.”
The SMS major is unique for several reasons, but some are why the program was organized the way it was.
“This was designed with an idea to blend three things together: content creation, business knowledge and analytics,” Massie said.
“And those things aren’t usually blended together, but that is where the work force is.
“Social media, like everything, has some strengths and some drawbacks,” Massie explained. “It’s strengths are that it keeps us connected. That’s a positive thing for social media, as it allows for people to feel connected to others. It’s a very human thing. The negative is people can become detached.”