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Social Media and Virtual Communities


Course Topics: 0 Introduction

This is a course for the students with a strong interest in new technologies and how they may be used to create new business opportunities, particularly new social networking media.  Topics covered will include social networking and how the business world leverages them, virtual worlds and technologies, skills in designing and implementing social media for business value using sharepoint and iTunes U (hands on projects). 
What are social media?  Why do they matter to us today?
Initial Thoughts:

There was a lot of talk in the 1970s about the coming of the information age.  The potential for massive changes in society was forecast is works like Future Shock and Network Nation.  Megatrends captured much of the sentiment about what was going to happen as computer technologies began to dominate civic and work life.  We read a selection from this book to begin our exploration for the semester and frame the changes emerging in society.  As you read through “A Leader’s Framework for Decision Making” think about what sort of contexts have come to dominate work life as we have moved from the agricultural and industrial economies to the information economy mentioned in Megatrends.  What are the implications of dealing with complex adaptive systems?  Give some examples of complex adaptive systems in which you live and operate.  What makes them complex rather than chaotic, simple or complicated according to the article?  Why are social media and virtual communities a critical resource for the future of effective leader decision-making?  The overall framework guiding our course is the Harvard Business Review list of hot ideas for 2008.  The majority of them are related to social media and virtual communities.  I include the introduction page to the annual list in our readings to sensitize you to this guiding resource.  The list composes the major future areas for growth in enterprises today. 

Social media and virtual interactive spaces dominate this future potential.  On completion of our course, you will have a thorough understanding of the dynamics of this emerging area of potential for business growth.   You will be able to debate the pros and cons of major issues facing businesses manage and implement these technologies.  You will gain experience interacting in social media and gain leadership skills as we explore the potential for artificial intelligence in the Virtual Leader tool (one of our course ‘texts’).  Your control of situational leadership skills needed to navigate and manage in social media and virtual communities will improve as well.  Through our project, you will gain hands-on experience implementing social media and virtual community design elements using Microsoft Sharepoint.  Sharepoint is the most common business platform for implementing these new “Web 2.0” dynamic, interactive, social spaces.  I believe all of these skills will prepare you to effectively create and realize the business potential of social media and virtual communities in your careers.  Side note: why did I start numbering the topics with zero? 


1        * Naisbitt Megatrends Chapter 2 (1982) pp.11-25.

2        * Snowden and Boone “A Leader’s Framework for Decision Making” Harvard Business Review [HBR] (Nov. 2007) whole article.

3        * HBR “Breakthrough Ideas for 2008” p. 17.