The Digital Transformation of Society and Organizations in the 21st Century

You are here

Course Information
Business Administration
Terms offered: 
Fall, Spring
Language of instruction: 
Contact Hours: 



The digital transformation of our society in the last two decades has accelerated the pace of innovation. This current environment, characterized by ubiquitous connectivity and complex social networks, demands novel forms of leadership and management in order to compete, collaborate and create value in the digital economy. This course starts with historical developments of digital cultures, then offers a wide perspective of the digital cultures of our times in order to better understand the challenges faced by organizations, from the personal implications for students and future professionals to the challenges in different areas, such as business, economy, politics, and humanities. We will examine the social impact of technologies (such as big data or 3D printing) discuss strategic issues in the digital society (such as copyright, privacy and security as well as new trends in learning), and experiment with one of the most recent innovation approach, Design Thinking. The course requires an active participation by the students that will be required to develop their own digital reputation (one of the key topics of the course) as the main indicator for their assessment.

Attendance policy: 

Attendance is mandatory for all IES classes, including field studies. For this course, if a student misses more than three classes, one third of a letter grade will be deducted from the final grade for every additional absence. Missed exams, tests, presentations, or any other assignments can only be rescheduled in case of documented medical or family emergencies.

Learning outcomes: 

By the end of the course, students will be able to: 

  • Demonstrate knowledge of digital culture in the context of the wider digital society context. 
  • Identify the main problems and challenges of the digital society (privacy, creativity, collective intelligence, etc.). 
  • Understand how copyright law works in the Internet and how to use and cite open contents. 
  • Build a personal learning environment using digital tools to facilitate a successful professional career and lifelong learning. 
  • Demonstrate knowledge of the main digital channels and their roles and functions. 
  • Write blog posts, social media posts, and website content for user retention and acquisition. 
  • Understand the main disruptive technologies impacting digital economy. 
  • Demonstrate knowledge of the digital transformation in fields such as education, humanities, work, and politics. 
  • Define the basis of the Enterprise 2.0 and the main IT systems in organizations. 
  • Understand how business models are generated and what the most important Internet business models are. 
  • Learn the basics of Design Thinking as an innovation method and be able to apply it for solving problems. 
  • Define social innovation as well as the role of social labs in innovation.
Method of presentation: 
  • Lectures
  • Case studies
  • Group discussions
  • Online discussions 
Required work and form of assessment: 
  • Attendance and class participation - 10%
  • Digital portfolio - 30%
  • Development of a professional personal learning environment (PLE) using digital tools - 15%
  • Midterm exam - 15%
  • Project (group activity) - 30%

Attendance and class participation
Active student participation is expected throughout the course. Students are required to come to class prepared to discuss the assigned readings, contribute to class discussion, and answer questions posed by the instructor and their peers. They are also expected to be active in searching information and participating in the digital media used in the course.

Digital portfolio
Students will develop and maintain an active website that shares the assignments related to the course. In addition, publications about digital culture, digital society, and digital business strategy will be valued. Students should promote their posts using social media and other resources in order to provide metrics that demonstrate the impact of their work by the end of the course; standard website analytics and metrics will be reviewed. The blog/website begins immediately. Students must start their blog the first week of class, with support provided by the instructor. The following factors will be taken into account: Quality of the publications, respect to copyright laws and citation practices, use of Creative Commons resources and free software solutions, and use and elaboration of creative multimedia materials.

Development of a professional personal learning environment (PLE) using digital tools 
In Unit 3 we will revise digital tools and strategies for knowledge management. A PLE describes “the tools, communities, and services that constitute the individual educational platforms learners use to direct their own learning and pursue educational goals” (EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative: The relevance of this approach for training students in developing a professional learning environment for lifelong learning is cornerstone to their future success.  Students will be required to try and use different tools and strategies that better suit their learning needs, to report to the group their practices and their work through online metrics, and to produce meaningful feedback for their peers.

Midterm exam
Students will be tested on key components of the course half way through the term.

Project (group activity)
Students will be asked to work in teams to develop a technology-related project using the digital instrument revised in the course and using the Design Thinking methodology. The project may consist of a business idea, a new product or service, new procedures to improve a business process, a social innovation project, etc. The details will be discussed with the instructor.

A prototype will be presented in the class to get feedback from the students following the Design Thinking Methodology. Each team should keep records of the different phases of DT leading to the final prototype and tell the story in their websites. 





Unit 1 Course presentation & introduction to digital culture and society. Website to revise:  - Digital Single Market (European Commission)    Assignment - Website creation. - Presentation in the website.
Unit 2 Web 2.0 basics and principles of digital culture   2.1 Introduction to Web 2.0 and social media: origin, basics, concepts, technologies, tools.   2.2 Cloud computing and Everything as a service.   2.3 Collective intelligence: concept and cases.   2.4 Creativity and remix culture.   2.5 Openness and sharing.   2.6 Hacker culture.   2.7 Copyright, Creative Commons, Copyleft: understanding intellectual property in digital times.   2.8 Privacy online and security in Internet.   2.9 Digital Agenda of the European Union.   O’Reilly, T. (2005). “What is Web 2.0. Design Patterns and Business Models for the Next Generation of Software”. Available at:   Nissenbaum, H. (2011). "A Contextual Approach to Privacy Online," Daedalus, 140(4): 32-48. 
Available at      Websites to revise during the class:  - Creative Commons  - “Wikipedia” by Wikipedia      Assignment - Post for the website about the topics covered in this Unit and the readings.
Unit 3

Knowledge management for professionals

3.1 Knowledge management for professionals: how to build your personal learning environment.

3.2 Digital competence.   3.3 Mailing: tools and strategies.   3.4 Online office services: tools and strategies.   3.5 File sharing and cloud storage: tools and strategies.   3.6 Reading, annotation and classification services: tools and strategies.   3.7 Project management: tools and services.
Ala‐Mutka, K. (2013). DIGCOMP:A Framework for Developing and Understanding Digital Competence in Europe. IPTS. Available in:    Assignment - Post about the current personal learning environment of the students. - Exploration and use of different online tools for learning and knowledge management.
Unit 4

Professional 2.0: Social media for professional communication 

4.1 Digital reputation, digital identity, personal brand.

4.2 Social media marketing model to build your digital strategy.   4.3 Website as the center of digital identity.   4.4 Social networks.   4.5 Monitoring services.   4.6 Metrics. News reports and Documentaries
Lund, S., Manyika, J. & Robinson, K. (2016). “Managing talent in a digital age”. McKinsey Quarterly. Available at   Himanen, P. (2010). “The Hacker Work Ethics”. The hacker ethic and the Spirit of the information Age. Random House. (pp. 3-19)   Assignment - Post for the website about the topics covered in this Unit and the readings.  
Conference: professionals using digital strategies


Assignment - Post about the conference.
Unit 5

Strategic Technology Trends 

5.1 Data-driven economy.

5.2 Cloud computing.   5.3 Everything as a service.   5.4 Internet of Things.   5.5 3D Printing.   5.6 Big Data.   5.7. New trends.
Bradley, C. & O’Toole, C. (2016). “An incumbent’s guide to digital disruption”. McKinsey Quarterly 2016. Available at:   Hui, G. (2014). “How the Internet of Things Changes Business Models”. Harvard Business Review. Available at:   “How companies are using big data and analytics” (interview). McKinsey Quarterly 2016. Available at:   Assignment - Post about the topics covered in this Unit and the readings.  
Unit 6

Digital transformation impact on society: education, humanities, work, economy, politics.

6.1 Digital transformation and social innovation: what does it mean?

  6.2 Education in digital era: skills, values and principles (cooperation, openness, public, experimental), projects, resources for lifelong learning.   6.3 Digital Humanities: new horizons for humanities in the digital age.   6.4 Work in the digital age: new professions, digital skills, informal learning models, hacker ethics.   6.5 Digital economy: collaborative economy, maker movement, industry 4.0. Digital Single Market in Europe.   6.6 Digital politics and public government.
Johnson, L., Adams Becker, S., Cummins, M., Estrada, V., Freeman, A., and Hall, C. (2016). NMC Horizon Report: 2016 Higher Education Edition. Austin, Texas: The New Media Consortium. Available at:      Burdick, A., Drucker, J., Lunenfeld, P., Presner, T., & Schnapp, J. (2012). Digital Humanities. MIT Press. Available at: - “Humanities to Digital Humanities”(pp. 3-26)   Farrell, H. (2012) “The Consequences of the Internet for Politics”. Annual Review of Political 
Science, 15: 35-52. Available at:  
     Website to revise:  - Digital Single Market (European Commission)     Assignment - Post about the topics covered in this Unit and the readings.
Unit 7 Business Models    7.1 Business Model Generation   7.2 Internet Business Models Osterwalder, A. & Pigneur, Y. (2010). Business Model Generation. Wiley. - “The Business Model Canvas” (pp. 12-51)   Osterwalder, A. & Pigneur, Y. (2010). Business Model Generation. Wiley. - “The Business Model Canvas” (pp. 12-51)   Assignment - Elaboration of a short case study about the business model of an Internet company.
Unit 8

Design Thinking. The challenge of generating disruptive innovation in organizations 

8.1 How does innovation work?

8.2 What is Design Thinking?   8.3 Phase 1: Empathize.   8.4 Phase 2: Define.   8.5 Phase 3: Ideate.    8.6 Phase 4: Prototype.   8.7 Phase 5: Test.
Institute of Design at Stanford – “An Introduction to Design Thinking PROCESS GUIDE”. Available at:   Assignment - Project based on Design Thinking.
Unit 9 Enterprise 2.0 & ICT in organizations   9.1 Enterprise 2.0: The Dawn of Emergent Collaboration    9.2 Information and Communication Technologies in organizations: infrastructure and systems. Introduction to ERP (enterprise resource planning) and CRM (customer relationship management).   McAfee, A. P. (2006). Enterprise 2.0: The dawn of emergent collaboration. MIT Sloan management review, 47(3), 21.   Shirky, C. (2008). “Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations" (video). Berkman Center for Internet & Society. 
Available at:    Laudon, K. & Laudon, J. (2012). Management Information Sytems. Prentice Hall - “Chapter 9. Achieving Operational Excellence and Consumer Intimacy: Enterprise Applications” (pp. 334-368)   Assignment - Post about the topics covered in this Unit and the readings.  
Conference: On Granada Tech City (


Assignment - Post about the conference.
Unit 10 Digital Social Innovation & Social Labs    10.1 Social Innovation & Digital Social Innovation   10.2 Social Labs: origin, types.   10.3 Cases.   Goldsmith, S. (2010). The Power of Social innovation. Jossey-Bass.  - “Part I: Catalyzing Social Change” (pp. 3-64)     Hassan, Z. (2014). The Social Labs Revolution: A New Approach to Solving our Most Complex Challenges. Berrett-Koehler Publishers. - “Introduction: What Are Social Laboratories?” (pp. 1-15)      Assignment - Post about the topics covered in this Unit and the readings.   - Post about the evolution on the personal learning environments of students: evidence and metrics. - Post about impact of the digital portfolio (website) from the beginning of the course: metrics.