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Creating Curriculum on Digital Student Leadership

campus logoFor the last year I have taught for Florida State Univeristy, in the Undergraduate Certificate in Leadership Studies program. I have developed a three credit online course based on digital leadership curriculum called Leadership in the Digital Age. In this class I blend the Social Change Model leadership framework with digital leadership skills. I have blogged about pairing the two a number of times on this blog. 

The leadership studies certificate is highly sought after by students at FSU, described as:

The Undergraduate Certificate in Leadership Studies is an 18 credit, interdisciplinary, multidimensional, and experiential program open to all Florida State Undergraduate students. The Certificate program prepares students for leadership in multiple contexts and uses practical experience and service-learning projects to frame leadership learning within the context of social change. 

The Leadership in the Digital Age course went through an eight month curriculum review and approval process in 2014. Over the last three semesters, the course has exceeded enrollment capacity and is becoming one of those classes students recommended to each other. I am so proud what it has turned into and am excited to share more about it here. In this post you find the description of the course, learning outcomes, core topics and assigned text.

Future posts about this course will feature the development of major course assignments, Twitter integration, digital leadership definitions by college students, professional platforms and much more. Feel free to follow our class backchannel yearlong at #LDR2116.

Course Description

LDR 2116 is an interactive, dynamic online course focused on addressing leadership in the 21st century in the face of emerging technology, social media communication platforms and global change. The course includes literature, theory, practice, and online discussions that will provide a foundation for subsequent courses in the Undergraduate Certificate in Leadership Studies.  

Leadership in the Digital Age is set to awaken ones’ use of technology through the lens of a leader. Using theory and real case studies, students will learn how leaders have stumbled online as well as found success. Participants will explore their digital identity as it relates to their social media use and Internet activity.  Students will then be challenged to incorporate tenants of digital leadership and finally move toward professional branding to set them up for a positive digital reputation. 

The course will be highly interactive with student participation as a critical component to the learning process. For example, students will join the online conversation with other classmates through a common hashtag #LDR2116, responding to weekly prompts and sharing valuable content for the course. Finally, the course introduces leadership online through the lens of positive social change. Using the social change model participants will be challenged to take their activity to better their local and global communities.

Learning Objectives

At the end of the course, students will:

  • Conceptually be able to discuss the social change model including values of consciousness of self, congruence, commitment, controversy with civility, citizenship and change.
  • Critically analyze their past and current leadership learning experiences, and examine the motivation and purposes that drive their involvement in the leadership process. 
  • Explore questions such as: who are you online, who are you as a leader, what do you want to accomplish, what issues are you passionate about, how does my social media and online activity impact my leadership capacity, and what is my social media strategy as a leader.
  • Develop digital skills necessary to be an effective leader in the digital age including communication and writing skills on Twitter and LinkedIn, as well as implementing a digital decision making model. 
  • Apply leadership theory to practice and enhance their leadership skills, experience and knowledge in-person and online.

Course Readings

Required Text:

Komives, S. & Wagner, W. (2009).  Leadership for a Better World.  San Francisco, CA: Jossey- Bass.

Qualman, E.  (2015).  What Happens on Campus Stays on YouTube.  Cambridge, MA: Qualman Studios.

Recommended Text:

Qualman, E.  (2012).  Digital Leader: 5 Simple Keys to Success and Influence. McGraw-Hill Education. (Chapters 1, 3, 8 and 15)

Additional Required Readings:

Ivester, M. (2011).  Lol…OMG.  Reno, NV: Serra Knight Publishing. (Chapters 6-7)

Renner, P.K. (2013).  What NOT to Post for Students: How to use Social Media to Get Ahead. United States of America: Lucky Bluebird Press.  (Pages 67-81 and 95-116)

Ribble, M. (2011).  Digital Citizenship in Schools.  International Society of Technology in  Education. (Chapter 1)

Weisman, S. (2013).  50 Ways to Protect Your Identity in a Digital Age.  Saddle River, New Jersey: Pearson Education, Inc. (Chapter 20)

Course Topics for Spring 2016

Week One


Course & Community Introductions

Course Platform Tutorials: Twitter & LinkedIn

Week Two 

Digital Identity

Week Three

Social Change Model

Week Four 

Digital Reputation: Digital Success & Failure

Week Five

Consciousness of Self  on Social Media

Week Six

Protecting Your Digital Identity: Privacy, Wellness and Virtual Street Smarts

Week Seven

Congruence In-person and Online

Exploring Ethics Online

Week Eight

Digital Decision Making in College

Week Nine

Posting Your Commitment to Leadership

 Spring Break: No Class

Week Ten 

Social Media for Social Good

Week Eleven

Collective Group Action through Social Technologies

Week Twelve

Cyber Controversy and Conflict

Week Thirteen


Digital Branding & Professional Reputation

Getting Hired with Social Media

Week Fourteen

21st Century Technology Skill Set Part I: Digital Citizenship & Literacy

Week Fifteen             

21st Century Technology Skill Set Part II: Digital Leadership

What formal or informal digital leadership education are you implementing on your campus? I’d love here more about it in the comments below!

About Josie

I’m Dr. Josie Ahlquist—a digital engagement and leadership consultant, researcher, educator, and author. I’m passionate about helping people and organizations find purposeful ways to connect, engage, and tell their unique story. I provide consulting, executive coaching, and training for campuses, companies, and organizations that want to learn how to humanize technology tools and build effective and authentic online communities.

My blog and podcast have been recognized by EdTech Magazine, Inside Higher Ed and the Chronicle of Higher Education. My book, Digital Leadership in Higher Education, was published in 2020 and was listed as a #1 new release for college and university student life. I have been growing my consultancy since 2013 and am based in Los Angeles. When I’m not helping clients lead online, you might find me training for a triathlon, spoiling my nieces and nephews, or exploring with my husband and our rescue dogs in our new RV called Lady Hawk.

I’d love to connect! Find me on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Facebook.

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Rebekah Tilley

Assistant Vice President, University of Iowa Center for Advancement

Rebekah Tilley is the assistant vice president of communication and marketing for the University of Iowa Center for Advancement (UICA). In that role she supports fundraising and alumni engagement efforts for the university, including its CASE Gold winning Iowa Magazine, and serves UICA in a variety of strategic communication efforts.

Previously she was the director of strategic communication for the University of Iowa Tippie College of Business, and the director of communication for the University of Kentucky College of Law. She is a Kentucky native and a proud alum of the University of Kentucky.

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