Course Meeting Times

Lectures: 1 session / week, 3 hours / session

Course Description

This year, "Media, Education, and the Marketplace" focuses on the rise of information and communications technologies (ICTs) during the age of globalization, specifically examining its effect and potential in developing nations across the world. In particular, the class will focus on the following three components:

  • "Media" - This year, we have chosen to focus on information and communication technologies as a form of media. ICTs, specifically the dramatic rise in use of the Internet over the past twenty years, have "globalized" the world and created opportunities where very few have been available in the past. As Thomas Friedman claims in his new book, "The World is Flat," we are entering a phase where an individual can significantly improve his or her own economical, political, and social circumstances with just a computer and Internet connection. This course investigates these profound developments through current research and case studies.
  • "Education" - With projects such as MIT's OpenCourseWare, the major players in the world are beginning to understand the true power of ICTs in development. Throughout this class, we examine ICT projects that harness the benefits of technology to create positive social change around the world.
  • "Marketplace" - This semester, our focus is on the developing regions of the world. Specifically, the term "digital divide" is tossed around in everyday language, but what does it really mean? Is there an international digital divide, a national digital divide, or both? Is it a significant problem, or should we be worrying about more immediate needs such as food, shelter, and sanitation? Should we try to bridge this divide, and how have past attempts succeeded and (for the most part) failed? Why?

These are all questions that are asked throughout this course.

Course Objectives

  1. The main objective of this course is to expose the student to a vast body of knowledge on the different uses of information and communication technologies throughout the globe, focusing especially on developing regions of the world. Much of the class focuses on discussion based on readings assigned out of class.
  2. Another objective of this course is to give students hands-on experience with international development through technology. Throughout the course of the semester, we work on globally-based projects that leverage the benefits of information and communication technologies to positively affect an underdeveloped community. These projects are organized remotely by the class organizers and project leads.

Course Format and Topic Oral Presentations

This course resembles a graduate-level seminar in terms of format and style. There is an extensive list of readings for each lecture, and each student is expected to read all of the assigned material before attending class!

For each lecture that does not feature a guest lecture, we begin with a presentation from a few students on the assigned readings. The presentations should focus on the content of the readings, but should not be a summary of the readings! We are not looking for a book report; rather, we are expecting to hear the student's thoughts and insight on the matters present in each set of readings. Outside research is expected for these presentations, and they will be a substantial portion of the grade. Each presentation should be approximately 20-25 minutes in length. Also, each presentation should end with a list of outstanding questions/issues that the class can then take up for discussion.

Fieldwork Projects

Each student in the course works on a project that affects either a local or global community. The class organizers feel that having on-site experience with issues relating to information technology and development is crucial to understanding the underlying difficulties in implementing effective ICT policy, both at home and abroad. These project ideas are showcased in the lecture notes section.

There are three options for this field work:

  1. IAP-focused local/global fieldwork: If this option is chosen, the student is responsible for actively seeking funding throughout the term for a local or global ICT-related project to be completed during January 2006.
  2. Fall-focused local fieldwork: If this option is chosen, the student is responsible for actively participating in and contributing to an ICT-related project throughout the fall semester (i.e. on the order of a few weekends).
  3. Other: Another option concocted by the student and approved by the course instructors.

Options for both local and global projects exist, and the class organizers review them at the beginning of the class. There is no guaranteed funding for any projects, however.

Final Projects

In addition to the ongoing development project, each student will choose a topic to expound upon over the course of the semester. This topic will either stem from the readings, a list provided by the instructor, or the student's mind!

Ideally, the students should focuses on a case study relating to ICT and development. This is not required, however. At the end of the semester, all of these final projects are put together and we publish a comprehensive analysis. This document is forwarded to many interested parties after its completion, and the students are a part of a new and exciting piece of literature in this field!

Attendance Policy

This course has been designed in a seminar-style format, so lecture attendance is essential! A portion of the final grade will be based on classroom participation. If you cannot attend a class, please inform the instructor ahead of time with the justifiable reason for the absence.

For an excused absence, you are given the option to complete a make-up assignment to regain your participation points for that day. The assignment would then be distributed by the professor upon request by the student, and would be due at the beginning of the following lecture. You are only able to exercise this option twice during the course. There will be no opportunity to make up participation points for an unexcused absence.

More than two (2) unexcused absences will result in a failing grade for the course.


The grading scheme for this course is as follows:

Activities Percentages
Class Participation and Attendance 20%
WSIS Assignment 10%
Fieldwork Project Summary 5%
Fieldwork Proposal I 10%
Fieldwork Proposal II 10%
Case Study Final Paper 20%
Topic Oral Presentation 15%
Case Study Oral Presentation 10%


Required Textbooks

Buy at Amazon Norris, Pippa. Digital Divide: Civic Engagement, Information Poverty, and the Internet Worldwide. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2001. ISBN: 9780521002233.

Buy at Amazon Wresch, William. Disconnected: Haves and Have-nots in the Information Age. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1996. ISBN: 9780813523705.

Writing and Speaking Assignments for a Communication Intensive Course

Communication intensive subjects in the humanities, arts, and social sciences require at least 20 pages of writing divided among a number of assignments, at least one of which is revised and resubmitted. This class requires three (3) papers that total at least 21 pages in length (double-spaced). The first essay will be graded and returned to you for your revision and resubmission. This resubmission will receive a grade separate from the grade on the first draft. The resubmission grade will be based on the extent and quality of the revision (e.g., a B paper that is poorly revised may receive a C for the resubmission).

HASS-CI subjects also offer students substantial opportunity for oral expression, through class discussion and student presentations. This class requires all students to participate in a weekly discussion of the assigned reading and films. In addition, each student will make two (2) formal presentations, both of which will receive written feedback and be graded. The first presentation will be on your second essay, and the second presentation on your final essay. To guarantee sufficient attention to student writing and substantial opportunity for oral expression, the number of students in this class is limited to 18. (In other CI-H classes, enrollment may increase to 25 if a writing tutor is assigned.)

Grading of Written Work

Essays are designed to encourage students to engage with the main themes of the course, while also taking a comprehensive and analytical look at the materials. Written work will be graded according to three criteria:

  • Argument: Is there a coherent thesis? How clearly is the argument stated in the introduction and developed throughout the paper? Do the steps of the argument make sense and lead logically to the conclusion?
  • Evidence: How well does the essay use the evidence available from the class materials (readings, lectures, films)? Are there contradictory examples that should be discussed to eliminate doubts?
  • Style: How well is the paper written? Has it been carefully proofread? Does the paper length match the assignment?

Oral Presentations

Oral presentations will be based on the second and third writing assignments. They will be graded according to following criteria:

  • How well organized is the presentation? Does the presenter make the key questions clear? Is there a provocative idea that deals with topic?
  • How effectively does the student communicate his/hers ideas, questions, and insights? Are there handouts or other materials that aid in understanding?