Life With Alacrity

A blog on social software, collaboration, trust, security, privacy, and internet tools by Christopher Allen.

Using the Social Web for Social Change (Syllabus #SW4SX)

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This fall with be the 4th year, and the 5th time that I've taught the class Using the Social Web for Social Change (hashtag #SW4SX) in the MBA in Sustainable Systems program at Bainbridge Graduate Institute (BGI.edu).

The class itself is an elective, but has become so popular that during this school year I am running the class three times: once this summer, again this fall, and a third time in the spring. This class is unique because it crosses class cohorts; it has also been available to members of the Seattle Metro MBA program; is the most popular class for auditing and alumni participation; and we have even had some faculty and TAs take the course. This means that we get a genuine cross-section of BGI and it has been a real inspiration and positive influence on the broader community and on other classes in the program.

The class itself is delivered in a hybrid (sometimes called blended) format — that is that we meet face-to-face on three different weekends for 6 hours each time over the course of a quarter. Supplementing those sessions, we meet online weekly in a synchronous chat room hosted by Blackboard Collaborate. In addition to being part of a hybrid program, my personal goal is for the class to be a completely flipped classroom, i.e. we reserve both face-to-face time AND our synchronous time in Collaborate for exercises, keeping lectures to a minimum. If I find myself lecturing, I try to record it so that in the next version of the course we can move the lecture into the readings.

This year is the first year that all MBA students are required to have iPads in the classroom. For many classes this will be mostly for electronic books, but in my class we will be using them for research, collaboration, social media, social networking and much more.

I have always intended the course content to be publically available, but I have just not had the time to massage it to the quality level that I was satisfied with. This year I have two TAs, whose assistance allows me to devote more time to making some of this material available to the public.

All of my course content is available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share-Alike license.

Here is the official syllabus for this fall's class:

Using the Social Web for Social Change

Course Introduction

This course will focus on using the latest social online tools to effect social change. The course will incorporate technical and practical aspects of the social web, as well as critical discussion of the latest theories on how to effectively influence change using social web technologies.  Students will leave the class being comfortable creating a persuasive social web site or a social video on a sustainability topic, using either computer based or tablet based tools.

The purpose of this course is to acquaint students with the new and helpful tools available to them in the tool chest of open technologies called Web 2.0. Students will receive both a practical and a theoretical grounding in social networking, leading and participating in virtual teams, integrating the web into marketing efforts, and using the web to support social change. Students will use both computers and tablets for the duration of this course and will learn new and helpful tools specific to each device.

Prerequisite(s)/Co-requisite(s)

First year of the BGI MBA program

Instructional Contact Hours/Credits

3 credit hours

Please note that for every credit hour there will be a minimum of 10 synchronous contact hours (face to face and/or virtual session hours). Students should expect at least 2 hours of asynchronous learning (readings, written assignments, group activities) for every synchronous contact hour in this course.

Learning Objectives

At the end of the course, students will have demonstrated the following knowledge and abilities:

● Gain basic familiarity of using Social Web within a professional context
● Speak authentically online with a practiced proficiency using a variety of online mediums and have a mastery of least one medium
● Have a practiced proficiency in creating projects using Social Web tools that measurably effect social change

Core Competencies

  • Demonstrate skills of online participation such as engaging in the blogosphere, and basic online community interaction
  • Form an initial “personal brand” suitable for public profiles on- and off-line
  • Scan, focus, act: learn effective tools to filter and organize large amounts of digital information
  • Demonstrate the use of social networking services to articulate the student's personal network
  • Create a variety of forms of social media, including demonstrating skills of basic audio and video editing
  • Incorporate and properly attribute Creative Commons and/or fair use content into social media
  • Demonstrate basic Web 2.0 approaches, in particular, openness, transparency, iteration, “ship early and often,” “fail fast,” and “perfection is the enemy of the good”
  • Exhibit an understanding of the audience, use of techniques of influence and persuasion and an understanding of the barriers to change
  • Participate in analysis, dialogue, constructive criticism, and iterative improvement of the social web with fellow classmates and faculty
Instructional Materials and References

Please note that we recommend (but do not require) that students purchase the Kindle ebook editions of these works, as it allows for shared quotes and annotations during the class.

All other required course materials are either available online, are in the BGI Library, or are part of Virtual Classroom archives.

All students are required to have an iPad 2 and a laptop with video editing capability. A video camera or smartphone capable of HD 720p or 1080p video is highly recommended.

Instructional Methods

Learning journals; sustainability-related “beat” blog; collaborative social media for social change; collaborative discovery, virtual classroom sessions.

Topical Outline

Week 1 — Introduction to the Social Web: Shared Language & Collaborative Discovery
(Oct 1st - 7th — Virtual Session: Wed Oct 3rd)
Topics: Social web terminology; social web basics — social networking, social media, social software & web 2.0; collaborative culture: shared language & shared artifacts; shared bookmarking & collaborative discovery; collaborative editing; scan-focus-act
Pre-Class Deliverables: Survey and pre-class readings & assignments; enroll in private Facebook group for course
Pre-Virtual Session Deliverables: Comments on pre-virtual session advance readings, choose beat topic
Weekly Deliverables: Comments on weekly readings; set up beat blog; first beat blog post; participate in class Facebook site, social media, collaborative discovery & shared glossary; iPad familiarization & setup

Week 2 — Collaborative Filtering / Barriers to Online Participation /  Personal Brand
(Oct 8th - 14th — Virtual Session: Wed Oct 10th, Intensive: Sat Oct 13th)
Topics: Collaborative filtering; filter failure; attention; flow; tagging — ontology vs folksonomy; barriers to online participation — online identity; reputation; exposure, privacy, risk, etiquette; online vs offline life; personal brand; authenticity
Pre-Virtual Session Deliverables: Comments on pre-virtual session readings
Pre-Intensive Deliverables: Pre-intensive reading comments, pre-intensive suggested reading slide; pre-intensive personal brand assignments
Intensive Deliverables: Group discussion of topics, group activities on barriers to online participation; group personal brand activities
Weekly Deliverables: Post-intensive personal brand activities; comments on weekly readings;  second beat blog post; participate in class Facebook site, social media & collaborative discovery

Week 3 — The Blogosphere, Social Networks & Microblogging
(Oct 15th - 21st — Virtual Session: Wed Oct 17th)
Topics: Blogosphere; blogging vs microblogging; social network theory; strong & weak ties; social networking services — Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.; social capital; group size limits; ambient intimacy; branding keywords
Pre-Virtual Session Deliverables: Draft personal brand; comments on pre-virtual session advance readings; pre-session learning journal entry
Weekly Deliverables: social network articulation activities; social network privacy exercises; selected readings from Zúniga’s “Taking on the System”; comments on weekly readings; third beat blog post; participate in class Facebook site, social media & collaborative discovery

Week 4 — Participation & Engagement
(Oct 22nd - 28th — Virtual Session: Wed Oct 24th)
Topics: Participation; engagement; affinity; association; participatory media; power laws of participation; participation inequality; participatory culture; attribution; copyright; fair use; creative commons; wikis & wikipedia; audio editing
Pre-Virtual Session Deliverables: Revised personal brand; submit social networking profiles with revised personal brand; comments on pre-virtual session advance readings; pre-session learning journal entry
Weekly Deliverables: Creation of edited audio for annotation of canvas or slidecast on topic of  students choice, comments on weekly readings;  fourth beat blog post; participate in class Facebook site, social media & collaborative discovery

Week 5 — Social Video
(Oct 29th - Nov 4th — Virtual Session: NONE FOR HALLOWEEN)
Topics: Video editing; social video; social media, ambient vs. immersive media
Weekly Deliverables: Pre-social video learning journal entry; social video associated with personal brand or beat blog; comments on weekly readings;  fifth beat blog post; participate in class Facebook site, social media & collaborative discovery

Week 6 — Memetics & Stickiness
(Nov 5th - 11th — Virtual Session: Wed Nov 7th)
Topics: Social video, social media, memetics, viral media
Pre-Virtual Session Deliverables: Comments on pre-virtual session advance readings; pre-session learning journal entry
Weekly Deliverables: Selected readings from Heath & Heath “Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die.” (Kindle book), comments on weekly readings;  sixth beat blog post; participate in class Facebook site, social media & collaborative discovery

Week 7 — Change: Tactics of Influence & Persuasion
(Nov 12th - 18th — Virtual Session: Wed Nov 14th, Intensive: Sat Nov 17th)
Topics: Tactics of influence & persuasion; barriers to change; ethics — values, power, propaganda;
Pre-Virtual Session Deliverables: Comments on pre-virtual session advance readings; pre-session learning journal entry
Pre-Intensive Deliverables: Pre-intensive reading comments, pre-intensive suggested reading canvas/slidecast/video
Intensive Deliverables: Group discussion of topics, team exercises in tactics of influence and barriers to change, brainstorming on social change projects; establish social change project teams, initial social change project teams, pitches
Weekly Deliverables: Readings from Cialdini’s “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion” (Kindle Book), comments on weekly readings;  seventh beat blog post; participate in class Facebook site, social media & collaborative discovery

Week 8 — Overcoming the Barriers to Social Change
(Nov 19th - 25th — Virtual Session: NONE FOR THANKSGIVING)
Topics: Psychological and sociological barriers to social change, influencing environmental change; frames and framing; 
Weekly Deliverables: Post-intensive learning journal entry, Social change project teams finalize pitch, team roles assignment, draft plan for social change project; selected readings from Heath & Heath “Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard” (Kindle book), comments on weekly readings; eighth beat blog post; participate in class Facebook site, social media & collaborative discovery

Week 9 — Change: Understanding the Audience & the Channel
(Nov 26th - Dec 2nd — Virtual Session: Wed Nov 27th)
Topics: Audience, peers, online credibility; online channels; analytics; metrics; page rank;
Pre-Virtual Session Deliverables: Audience and channel exercises, comments on pre-virtual session advance readings; pre-session learning journal entry
Weekly Deliverables: First iteration of social change project; comments on weekly readings;  ninth beat blog post; participate in class Facebook site, social media & collaborative discovery

Week 10 — Open Topic (Student’s Choice)
(Dec 3rd - 9th — Virtual Session: Wed December 5th)
Topics: Student create social media on an open topic — past years topics have included: local social mobile / designing and facilitating online communities / fun, play & gamification / virtual reality
Pre-Virtual Session Deliverables: Report on progress of social change project, comments on pre-virtual session advance readings; pre-session learning journal entry
Weekly Deliverables: Audio-video social media creation related to open topic (canvas/slidecast/video), 2nd iteration of social change project; comments on weekly readings;  tenth beat blog post; participate in class Facebook site, social media & collaborative discovery

Week 11 — Scaling Social Change
(Dec 10th - 16 — Virtual Session: Wed Dec 12th, Intensive: Sat Dec 15th)
Topics: Scaling, tipping points, disruptive change, culture of change
Pre-Virtual Session Deliverables: Third and final iteration of social change project; report on results of social change project, comments on pre-virtual session advance readings; pre-session learning journal entry
Intensive Deliverables: Team creation of a fast social change project, group discussion of social change projects
Pre-Intensive Deliverables: Pre-intensive suggested reading canvas/slidecast/video
Weekly Deliverables: Comments on weekly readings;  eleventh beat blog post; participate in class Facebook site, social media & collaborative discovery

Week 12 — Collaborative Iteration
(Dec 17th - 21st)(Virtual Session: Wed Dec 19th)
Topics: Iterative improvement, life-cycle of teams, constructive criticism, value of post-mortems
Pre-Virtual Session Deliverables: Comments on pre-virtual session advance readings; pre-session learning journal entry
Weekly Deliverables: Delivery of draft student personal brand portfolio, delivery of post-mortem or iterative change project; twelfth and last beat blog post; participate in class Facebook site, social media & collaborative discovery

Assessment Criteria and Methods of Evaluating Students

  • Weekly Reading Commentary 10% 
  • BGI Guide 20% 
  • Social Media 20% 
  • Social Change Project 20% 
  • Class Participation 20% 
  • Post-mortem 10%
    • Total: 100%

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