Game on: New Social Media Innovation course features virtual quest

February 22, 2011 //

Media Contact: Brandon Lausch, 215-204-4115,

Students have an extra reason to show up for Steven L. Johnson’s new Social Media Innovation course: to find out where they stand on “The Quest” leaderboard.

The class, offered through the Fox School’s Department of Management Information Systems (MIS), is as unique as it is relevant. Students in the course participate in a virtual game, “The Social Media Innovation Quest.”

In addition to learning about fundamental concepts related to social media topics, students complete hands-on tasks. Students earn Quest Points for tasks, such as creating online animations, writing blog posts and promoting their blogs. The more online traffic they generate, the more points they earn.

“There are other classes that cover social media topics, but what is unique here is The Quest,” said Johnson, an assistant professor of MIS who researches large-scale social networks. “Lots of social media sites incorporate elements from games, like points, levels and badges. We’re doing the same thing here and having a lot of fun while learning.”

Johnson said he’s already been impressed by his students’ creativity. Every week, students present their best work in class, which also helps students learn from one other. By the end of the semester every student will learn to create and manage blogs and manage an online presence through social media.

“The ultimate objective is that a student in a job interview will be able to say ‘well of course I use Facebook, but, you know, here’s why Facebook is so popular,'” Johnson said.

Johnson said the course will also help students manage their digital identities, which is essential for college graduates seeking jobs.

“When you apply for a job, odds are your boss will Google your name,” he said. “They are either going to find something that you put out there yourself, or they’re going to find a picture of you at a party, or who knows what, and it may not represent you well.”

In a world where one’s digital identity is becoming more and more relevant, students need to be given the necessary tools to manage their online presence. And that’s exactly what Johnson provides in this course.

Matt Finn