Wednesday, May 18, 2011
A course description--with bibliography--for an extended course in Social Media in Government.

A few months ago, I was approached by a university and asked if I could teach a Social Media class.  Though I have not committed to teaching the class (those of you who grade papers will know why), I have put together a rough outline of what I'd like to cover, how I'd structure the class and what texts I'd like to assign.  Below is that course description.  

Next week, I'll share the writing assignments and other hands-on elements the class would encompass.

 

Social Media in Government

Purpose

This course will have both theoretical and practical components.  Students will attain a theoretical understanding of how and why communities form, the capacities and limitations of collective actions, and how to encourage and direct civic activities, with an emphasis on online communities.  Students will also read practical guides and case studies that connect the theory to real-world situations.  Ideally, each student will finish the class with a body of knowledge regarding both the current state of social media and its function within government as well as how to stay abreast of the changing social media landscape and adjust their own activities to take fullest advantage of new tools as they emerge. 

Topics:

The class discuss the following four topics in depth: Community, Information, Action, and Capabilities and Limitations of Social Media in Government.

Communities off line and on: Why do we form social networks? What forms do social networks take? How do we manage social networks to increase the possibility of positive outcomes? 

Texts:

        Bowling Alone, Robert Putnam

        Connected, Nicholas A. Christakis and James H. Fowler

Information as online currency: what is information? how does it function online? how can it be managed? in an age where every possible viewpoint is expressed and reenforced online, can we ever achieve consensus? 

Texts:

        True Enough, Farhad Manjoo

        The Information, James Gleick

From Information to Action: How do we encourage participation through social media?  What are the capacities (and limits) of social media to direct and/or enable civic engagement? 

Texts:

        Reality is Broken, Jane McGonigal

        Cognitive Surplus, Clay Shirkey

The Capacities and Limits of Social Media: What can be achieved through social media--with regard to collaboration, transparency, and citizen participation--and what are the limitations and even perils that social media must confront?

Texts:

        The Myth of Digital Democracy, Matthew Scott Hindman

        Open Government: Collaboration, Transparency, and Participation in Practice, Daniel Lathrop

        You Are Not a Gadget, Jaron Lanier

        Republic.com 2.0, Cass Sustein

        WikiGovernment, Beth Simone Noveck

        The Next Form of Democracy: How Expert Rule Is Giving Way to Shared Governance, Matthew Leighninger

        How-To Guides for Microbloging, Blogging, Ideation, and Social Networking

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