ExperientialLearning@SocialMedia.edu

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Abstract

Undergraduate and graduate students were enrolled in an upper-division online experiential learning course organized as a technology company start up at a public university in the US. Students participated in an academic department’s social media team, publishing a weekly newsletter and producing and curating content for multiple social media outlets designed for public and university audiences, a website for the department’s students, and a career portal. Responses to survey questions provided support for Experiential Learning Theory’s cyclical learning model. In addition, students viewed the entrepreneurial approach to the team as both liberating and challenging as they engaged with each other and the communities in which they were embedded. Although communication with their student supervisors, faculty supervisor, and other team members contributed to their positive evaluation of their learning experience, the tech start-up approach of task autonomy was the most important factor. Students came to recognize and embrace the multifaceted nature and ubiquity of learning opportunities. In addition, they developed key transferable skills, including effective writing, social media literacy, critical thinking, teamwork, problem solving, decision making, self-management, and leadership.