New PR Course Utilizes iPads for Teaching Social Media Skills

by Diane VanDyke

Social media is rapidly changing the communications scene by creating interactive, dynamic relationships with the public through the use of today’s evolving technology.

Montgomery County Community College’s new SPC 225 Writing for Public Relations Campaigns course provides the social media skills students need as they enter the communications field or update their skills for their current or potential careers.

This hybrid course will be conducted mostly online. However, mid-semester the course will feature a four-session, in-class writers’ workshop where students can use new Apple iPads.

“Students need the opportunity to use the latest technology to understand it and get to know it well enough to use it successfully,” said Assistant Professor Tom Donlan, who teaches the course.

The iPads are the result of a multiple-year gift from an anonymous donor. The ongoing gift will initially be used to purchase the iPads and a cart to house and recharge them.

Since their introduction in April 2010, iPads have become popular tools for professionals. Their size alone makes them more user friendly than smart phones and less cumbersome as laptops.

Through hands-on usage, students will learn how to tailor their messages to this technology and will learn how to incorporate visual medium to enhance their written communications.

“By using and becoming familiar with this technology, students can develop ideas for applications for their clients,” Donlan said. “There is a possibility that these apps could actually be created.”

Additionally, Donlan and his colleagues in the Speech and Communications Department are exploring ways iPads can be used in other Speech and Communications classes. Donlan plans to use the iPads as part of an ongoing research project on the educational advantages of paperless classrooms.

For students in the communication field, learning how to effectively use social media tools is essential for future employment and career advancement.

For more information about SPC 225 Writing for Public Relations Campaigns, contact Tom Donlan at 215-641-6332 or

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