Reflections on ISYS6621 Social Media for Managers, a 21st Century Course

This semester I have the pleasure of sitting in on the 4:30 section of Prof. Kane’s course ISYS6621 Social Media for Managers at Boston College.

My motivation is my own education.  I entered the course with only the most cursory understanding of Social Media.

I am stunned by the course, the material covered and the way the course is taught.

I am just beginning to see the significance of Social Media, for individuals, for companies, for management, for education, for society.  There is so much more depth and import to the subject than I was aware.  The course is helping me understand issues like the collapse of hierarchy, peer production and evaluation, the blurring of boundaries within an organization (or course) and between an organization and customers, suppliers, competitors, consumers, the speedup of communication and perception-decision-action cycle time.

The way the course is taught is unlike any course I have seen.  It is not a lecture course, a discussion course, a case-based course, an online course.  It is a Social Media course.  It is fully consistent and authentic.  It uses Social Media to help people learn about Social Media.  Much of the learning takes place outside of class through blogs and tweets.  The students help each other learn (peer production) through comments on blogs and replies to tweets outside of class and through individual presentations and discussion comments in class.  Students evaluate each other weekly.  The two and a half hours of class time is broken up into completely different half hour segments which are further broken up into five or ten minute units.

A couple of observations for now.

Just as there is Moore’s Law for computers there seems to be a Moore’s Law at work for companies and for popular culture.  For computers we know that they keep becoming faster (and smaller and cheaper).  The internal clock rate, the cycle time, is speeding up and more actions are done each cycle.  For companies “Time as a source of competitive advantage” has been discussed for over 25 years.  Product cycle times change from years to months to weeks to days, thanks in large part now to Social Media.  (A few) startups, especially Social Media startups, turn into billion dollar companies in astonishingly little time.  Large companies become obsolete with surprising speed.  In popular culture memes or events might have appeared in People magazine and had lifetimes of weeks.  How long did the blue/back – white/gold dress last? 36 hours?  How about the uproar about Curt Schilling and his daughter?  About the same?

This is perhaps delicate ground but I will tread anyway.  This is the first “tech” course where women seem to predominate.  The online voices of some of the women in the course are just so strong and true.  In the classroom my subjective opinion is that the men and women perform about equally, though still with an edge to the women, but the large online component seems to give some people, mostly women, the means to really shine.

The course really is an eye-opener.  I am just beginning to understand.


  1. Very interesting post! I agree with you completely. This is probably the most unique course I’ve taken during my time in BC. I would definitely recommend people to take the class since it is crucial to understand the world in which we know live – which is basically controlled by social media. I think it is very interesting how you mentioned that women seem to predominate because of their online voices. I believe this trend is also applicable outside of class in the real world. Women have been using social media to voice out their opinions without being afraid to speak up.

  2. I like your observation on gender role and the inequality or dominance in the online world. Social Media allows people to share their opinions to a countless audience, without hierarchy or norms preventing a voice from being heard. In some form, social media has brought our freedom of speech to a new level. I think it’s for the best, but can definitely get people into trouble. This class has brought to light the power and convenience of sharing platforms: how to optimize, avoid, respond, react, prepare, and promote through social media.

  3. Great post! I agree it is astonishing how social media startups turn into billion dollar companies so fast. This could never be possible without the growing technology, and the amount of people relying on social media every day. People are able to spread a message in a matter of seconds, a message that could reach millions and millions of people across the world. I feel like nobody can fully understand social media because it is evolving every day, and it will continue to evolve through time. Every day we get amazed by something we see online, either news or a new app. People are getting more creative than ever on how to use social media and how to target different people around the world.

  4. I really like your Moore law analogy in Social Media. You’re right, it’s speeding in an escalating rate and there are always room for change and improvement with the help of social media. And your observation about gender contribution in the class is interesting. I think SM enables anyone who like to share idea and opinion easier and in a more collaborative and supportive environment. I also see the benefit that SM can bring to our society and corporate especially taking this class :)

  5. You have some very interesting points in your post! I agree that this has been one of the most unique and best classes I have taken throughout my time at BC. I have been on several interviews, this semester while looking for a full time job. When asked to talk about courses I am taking, Social Media for Managers always intrigues the interviewers. It truly is such a standout class with the constant and high level of participation required through blogs and tweets. I always rave about how it allows me to stay up-to-date with current social media and tech news. Also, I love how you compared online voices to classroom voices with regards to gender.

  6. I really enjoyed your post, especially its emphasis on time. This class moves quickly. The amount of posts, tweets, comments, articles, and the rate this information is generated, is staggering compared to other courses I’ve taken. This can be overwhelming at times, but it is also really liberating, since I can come and go as my interest fluctuates, and be comfortable knowing that if I miss something important, the next important news will come up shortly. In this sense, I think I’ve learned a lot about trends, and how important of a cultural/structural feature trends are to Social Media in general.

  7. This was a great read! I really enjoyed hearing your opinions on the class and it definitely made me do some reflecting of my own. For me, I think this class has taught me how mindful we have to be on social media. Because of my age, most of my social media adoption has been mainly for personal use. I use it to interact with friends and am focused more on the immediate gains of sharing, liking, and commenting. This class has opened my eyes to the power social media has for businesses and that my social media presence can extend well beyond my friend group. As I graduate and prepare to join the working world I need refocus my social media presence and use it for professional reasons that can have a positive impact on my career.

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