In the 2015 fall semester, the University of New Orleans English department will launch a new professional writing course entitled "The Rhetoric of Social Media." The class (ENGL 2155) is for those interested in becoming professional or technical writers, those who want to expand their communication skills in their chosen careers or those who want to learn how to use social media as a promotional tool for business or creative purposes. The course will introduce students to visual rhetoric, media production, marketing and "microstyle" writing (the art of writing little).
"The emergence of digital culture as an essential feature of our daily lives has created a deep need for people who are skilled in its uses," said Doreen Piano, associate professor of English. Piano, who will teach the class, explained that the ultimate goal of this course is understanding how to use social media applications critically and rhetorically through practice, reading and observation. She believes students who complete the course will be able to utilize social media more effectively and develop more than just an Internet footprint. In addition to covering social media rules of etiquette and implications for the job market, she will emphasize its role in creating networks of significance. For example, the course will examine the rhetorical importance of the hashtag, which has played a critical role in organizing and galvanizing social movements like the Arab Spring.
Piano hopes the class will attract students across all disciplines as social media can support endeavors ranging from promoting a global commercial brand to marketing an individual's own works of art. In today's world, preparing students to compete globally requires proficiency in the social media realm. A study conducted by global public relations firm Weber Shandwick found that the number of CEOs engaged in social media increased from 36 percent in 2010 to 80 percent in 2014.