Date of Award


Degree Name

Curriculum and Instruction


College of Education

Type of Degree


Document Type


First Advisor

Lisa A. Heaton, Ph.D., Committee Chair

Second Advisor

Ronald B. Childress, Ed.D.

Third Advisor

Rudy D. Pauley, Ed.D.

Fourth Advisor

Christopher L. Swindell, Ph.D.


The year 2014 has been described by scholars as transformative in how consumers interact with technology and media. Pointing to such digital milestones as the explosion of social media and mobile technology and the decline of traditional television ratings, these scholars have described the evolution as a move from a broadcast era to a postbroadcast era of media. This mass media evolution has opened a digital talent gap between the skills needed by the industry and the abilities of current and potential employees.

Focusing on undergraduate strategic communications programs, this research discusses the current status of new and social media education and seeks to understand how programs are changing to adapt to the media shift. To understand the current curriculum status and processes of change, this study used a mixed methods two-phase research design including a content analysis of program course offerings and qualitative interviews of faculty and administrators.

Of the 115 undergraduate strategic communications programs reviewed, 90 % offered courses with new media and 68% with social media mentions in course titles or descriptions. The most mentioned concepts were general references to new/emerging media, digital/interactive media, social media and social networking, and the most mentioned skills were Internet/website, multimedia and social media content creation, engagement and analytics. Interviews described a fairly standard process of higher education curriculum change, but found that programs are still experimenting with new and social media instruction and its placement in curriculum. While programs are improving, much work is still needed to close the talent gap.


Education, Higher -- Technology.

Education, Higher -- Computer network resources.

Communication in education.