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.