KAYSVILLE -- Students at one local high school class are actually encouraged to peruse Facebook and YouTube as one of their class assignments.
With schools no longer assuming the use of social media is a means of wasting time, these Davis High School students were learning about the vast marketing possibilities involved with the online craze.
As the first high school class in the state of Utah to offer a full-blown course based solely on social media marketing, the small class of 15 students is leading the way in making sure education remains up-to-date in the fast-paced world of technology.
Some might contend there isn't enough material to provide lessons for an entire semester, said Jeff McCauley, the instructor who piloted the program after proposing his idea to state officials last year.
But McCauley begs to differ.
"I learned there is way more than can be covered in a semester, especially with things like Google+ and Pinterest, two potentially big networks, coming on big during the class session," McCauley said. "I've learned along the way that there is so much more there than you realize."
McCauley said it is in parents' and educators' best interests to have students learn how to use these resources in the right way, because they are going to learn about social media one way or another.
"Like so many things in education, when you see it start to develop, you want to offer what is on the technological edge," McCauley said.
Several Utah schools, after hearing about the new course, now plan to follow suit and start teaching similar classes this year. McCauley is excited to have other schools catch on.
"It's like the wave at sporting events. Somebody's got to stand up first," he said. "It's something I found interesting, and I believe it's good information and want to offer it to others."
With the industry shooting off in the direction of networking through social media, many companies want to know how they can jump on board and are looking to the younger generation for that insight.
One of those businesses, SEO.com, a marketing company that uses social media as a tool to help its clients, was interested in learning about this innovative high school class.
"From an employer like us, we think it's great that it's being taught in high school to help get the students more prepared before college, since social media is becoming a big strategy for many companies," said Darin Berntson, social media manager at SEO.com. "It's what is happening now and is something you definitely have to embrace, since social media is basically word of mouth on steroids."
One of the students in the class has already started working with her part-time employer to better incorporate social media in the business's marketing strategies.
"They have all the tools, but aren't using it the right way to bring in customers," said Kara Killian, a Davis High junior.
In the course of learning more about social media, McCauley has discovered that in marketing, the goals haven't changed, but there are now different tools to get to those goals -- tools that his students were surprised to learn about.
Spencer Halford, also a junior, thought the class was just another marketing class.
"Now it is something I want to base my life on," Halford said. "Social media, I feel, is becoming the way of the future, making it more possible to connect with people."