Course Overview

This course is intended to help students to analyze online interaction environments with an eye toward design. For the purpose of this course, a community is defined as a group of people who sustain interaction over time. The group may be held together by a common identity, a collective purpose, or merely by the individual utility gained from the interactions. An online interaction environment is an electronic forum, accessed through computers or other electronic devices, in which community members can conduct some or all of their interactions. We will use the term eCommunity as shorthand, both for communities that conduct all of their interactions online and for communities that use on-line interaction to supplement face-to-face interactions.

The course prepares students for roles as online community designers and managers and as online marketing managers. It begins with an overview of the enterprise social computing space and of online marketing techniques. The second half of the course connects social science theories with the goals of online community managers and with the alternative social and technical design alternatives available to them. The central construct is the design claim: Alternative X will help/hinder the achievement of goal Y, in contexts Z. Students will draw on these claims to make design suggestions for a new or existing online community.



Meets Mondays 1-4PM in Room 311 WH

Professor Paul Resnick
Office Hours: Mondays 4-5 in 417B West Hall and Tuesdays 2:30-3 in USB Engineering Learning Center (2nd floor)

GSI Paul Hartzog
Office Hours: 11 a.m. to noon, Mondays
Location: 321 West Hall


Learning Objectives

At the end of this course, a student should be able to:

  • Argue for whether a variety of enterprise social computing tools would be worthwhile to implement in particular enterprises;
  • Conduct an online marketing campaign, including paid advertising, social media publishing, and social media monitoring;
  • Make principled design and management choices for online communities.



SI 502, which provides an introduction to the technologies of networked computing, or SI 301. Vocabulary and concepts such as "API" and "mashup" will be used freely in this course. In addition, students need to know what kinds of tools are available to support distributed, synchronous and asynchronous communication (e.g., chat, instant messaging, message boards, audio and video conferencing, live application sharing). Students who are unfamiliar with these but are comfortable learning new technologies on their own will have the opportunity to explore these at their own pace. This course will spend very little time explicitly teaching about technology, but will frequently assume it as background.



We'll be reading excerpts from a large number of books and articles. Generally, links to electronic copies are provided (to students logged into the site, not to anonymous users). Some optional readings listed in the syllabus are not provided-- you'll have to track those down yourself based on the reference provided in the syllabus.


Class Activities

Each week there will be assigned readings. Our engagement with these assigned readings will begin on-line, before the class session for which they're assigned, and continue in class. We will engage in four ways:

  • Description: statements or questions about what the author claims.
  • Critique: arguments about whether the author is correct or what the author has left out.
  • Connection: how the claims or concepts relate to those in other readings.
  • Application: how the reading applies to the communities we are studying.

The first three, description, critique, and connection, will occur first in threaded commentary on the website entry for the reading. Paul Hartzog will participate in the discussion. Normally, I will scan it on Monday morning in preparation for the afternoon class. Each student is expected to contribute to the discussion each week, either by posting a comment or by voting or tagging other students’ comments. You are expected to post at least six comments during the semester, but are encouraged to post more. In class on Mondays, I will usually lecture for part of the class, highlighting key points from the readings and online discussion, and use this as a launching point for live discussion.

We will have a variety of voting and tagging mechanisms available, and may actively experiment with different possibilities during the semester to give you experience with different alternatives. Initially, we have a simple voting mechanism, with positive votes only. Think of it as a “like this” button on FaceBook, except that the identity of the voters will not be revealed. (Later, we may change that, but will announce it before we do.) Writers of popular entries will attain glory, (not so) valuable prizes, and probably good grades as well. On the site, a vote from an instructor is treated the same as a vote from your peers. At the end of the semester, however, in assigning participation grades, I will account separately for votes given by the instructors and classmates, and weight more heavily those given by instructors.

In addition to the voting mechanism, there is a flagging mechanism that lets you indicate that you think a particular comment should be a topic for in-class discussion. I will pay special attention to comments flagged in that way when I read on Monday mornings.

The final mode of engagement, application, will begin through weekly student blog entries about how the readings for the week apply to students' selected communities. The blog entries are not graded. The main purpose of the blog entries is to generate raw material for use in the papers that you will write. You will be assigned to small feedback groups and will be expected to provide feedback to each other about the blog entries of other members of your group. You can also use the flagging mechanism to identify blog entries or comments that you think are worthy of in-class discussion.

This is a 3-credit course, so you should expect to spend, on average, 12 hours per week on the course, over the course of the 14 week semester. Here's my approximate estimate of how that time would be split up:

  • required reading (3 hours)
  • in-class time (3 hours)
  • weekly online discussion and blog entries (2 hours)
  • major assignments (4 hours/week averaged over the term)



  • See weekly assignments related to class activities above
  • Enterprise Social Computing case analysis, 5-7 pages, due Feb. 8
  • Online marketing team report to client, 15-20 pages, due April 19
  • Final paper with principled design suggestions for the community you’ve studied, 10-20 pages, due April 26


Online Marketing Campaigns

As part of Google’s Adwords in the Classroom, teams of up to five students will be matched to non-profit organizations to help them design and conduct online marketing campaigns. Once the lineup of organizations is available, you will submit a ranked list of preferences. We will then assign students to teams.

You will have a preliminary meeting, to get to know the organization, its website, and its online marketing goals, during the week of Feb. 1-7.

You will have a follow-up meeting, two weeks later, to present your AdWords campaign plans and discuss options for other non-advertising components of the campaign. You will then conduct the campaign for six weeks.

You will prepare a final report and present it to the organization during the week of April 5-12.



  • Participation (Online commenting/voting/tagging; peer feedback; in-class discussion), 20%
  • Enterprise Social Computing case analysis, 10%
  • Online marketing campaign report, 30%
  • Design suggestions paper, 40%

All members of a team will receive the team’s grade for the marketing campaign report. Team members will be polled about the contributions made by other team members. Grades may be reduced of individual team members who others describe as not doing their share of the work.



Jan. 11 Course Introduction; Metaphors; Ethical Considerations

Jan. 18 No class --MLK day

Jan. 25 Enterprise Social Computing inside the organization

Feb. 1 Enterprise Social Computing beyond the organizational boundary (Guest speaker: Joe Cothrel, Lithium Technologies)

Feb. 8 Adwords

Feb. 15 Social media tracking and intervention

Feb. 22 Tracking performance of online marketing campaigns

Mar 1 Winter Break

Mar 8 Communities of Practice I

Mar 15 Communities of Practice II

Mar 22 OC design: Newcomers

Mar 29 OC design: Identity and Commitment

Apr 5 OC design: Regulation

Apr 12 OC design: Contribution

Apr 19 OC design: Startup


An Important Note on Plagiarism

At the University of Michigan and in professional settings generally, plagiarism is an extremely serious matter. All individual written submissions must be your own, original work, written entirely in your own words. You may incorporate excerpts from publications by other authors, but they must be clearly marked as quotations and properly attributed. You may obtain copy editing assistance, and you may discuss your ideas with others, but all substantive writing and ideas must be your own or else be explicitly attributed to another, using a citation sufficiently detailed for someone else to easily locate your source.

All cases of plagiarism will be officially reported and dealt with according to Rackham policies. There will be no warnings, no second chances, no opportunity to rewrite; all plagiarism cases will be immediately reported to SI's Dean of Academic Affairs. Consequences can range from failing the assignment (a grade of zero) or failing the course to expulsion from the University. For additional information about plagiarism, see the "Academic and Professional Integrity Policy Statement" in the SI Master's Student Handbook, the Rackham pamphlet on Academic Integrity, and the Plagiarism document from the UM Libraries. If you have any doubts about whether you are using the words or ideas of others appropriately, please discuss them with your GSI or professor.



If you think you need an accommodation for a disability, please let me know at your earliest convenience. Some aspects of this course, the assignments, the in-class activities, and the way we teach may be modified to facilitate your participation and progress. As soon as you make me aware of your needs, we can work with the Office of Services for Students with Disabilities (SSD) to help us determine appropriate accommodations. SSD (734-763-3000; ) typically recommends accommodations through a Verified Individualized Services and Accommodations (VISA) form. I will treat any information you provide as private and confidential.


Syndicate content