New Social Media Lab in Communication Department Provides Students with Hands-On Skills and Research Opportunities

To stay on top of the ever-evolving landscape of the social media industry, William Paterson’s communication department has launched a Social Media Applications Research and Teaching (SMART) Lab, providing students and faculty with access to innovative software needed to learn about new social media technology and conduct advanced research.

“Many companies are now looking for tech-savvy employees who understand these emerging technologies and have strategic analytical skills,” says Angie Yoo, professor of communication and director of the SMART Lab. “Our department understands the importance of an education tailored to this demand and is proud to present the SMART Lab to provide such a learning experience to our undergraduate and graduate students.”

Located in Hamilton Hall, the lab is outfitted with cutting-edge programs such as Brandwatch, Sprout Social, and NodeXL. Students can conduct consumer research, manage multiple social media platforms, conduct social media campaign projects for real clients, and research advanced metrics used by industry professionals in their prospective fields.

This specialized software gives students the tools to explore and hone their skills in popular and emerging areas like social media research and analytics, podcasting, public relations, and journalism.

“The SMART Lab aims to serve as a hub for education, research, and service in social media practice and scholarship,” says Jungyun Won, assistant professor of communication and research director of the lab. “By integrating software programs and tools from the lab in our current and future courses, both faculty and students will gain advanced social media monitoring and analytic skills. Also, the lab is open to supporting any collaborative or interdisciplinary research projects that focus on digital and social media technologies.”

This semester, undergraduate students in Digital and Social Media Communication are learning how to use social listening and social media management tools, while graduate students in the Introduction to Research course are learning about social media analytics tools, which they will integrate into their master’s degree projects.

Students are excited about using the lab and its resources. “The atmosphere in the SMART Lab is different from being in a traditional classroom,” says Beatrice Amune, a graduate student enrolled in WP’s professional communication master’s degree program. “My professors’ ability to harmonize their teachings and lectures with the resources has been amazing and the caliber of computers and programs makes social media research during class activities fun and easy.”

“I’ve found the most valuable aspect of the lab to be the exposure to different strategies and tools that are transferable to my future endeavors, which have added another strength to my skill set in the social media field,” says Esma Senman, a senior communication major studying public relations. Students can also earn industry certifications in social listening, content management, and social analytics.