MIT Media Laboratory MAS 963
Credits 12(H) 0-12-0
Mondays 2-4pm in E15-335
First Meeting September 11, 2000

Instruction Staff: Michael Best
Teaching Assistant: Marco Escobedo
Course Secretary: Hao Nguyen
  Introduces principles and the promise of new information and communication technologies for traditionally under-served communities and international developing economies. The course will concentrate on building local non-alienating cost-appropriate technologies and methodologies that solve real problems for real communities. Theoretical and philosophical issues will be surveyed. However, the class will concentrate on case studies and hands-on experience with particular communities and problem domains. While the class will emphasize a holistic and integrated approach, we will use three technical domain areas to help focus our attention: village area networking, community communicators, and e-commerce co-operatives.

In addition, we will survey the main issues of technologies and international development gaining some understanding of the macro- and micro-economic components and the role of international organizations, governments, and NGO's. We will concentrate on new efforts to bring information and communication technologies (ICTs) into the development picture. We will review critically such efforts in development. Why have so many failed? Are the traditional development models flawed? How can one asses the value of ICTs for development?

This course includes an optional, non-credit-bearing field-work component during IAP. Students will work during the term with candidate communities (e.g. over the phone and internet) to develop and propose pilot field projects that might be carried out during IAP. Projects will be reviewed by course faculty and some will be funded by the Lab and acted on during IAP. Possible locations for field projects include West Africa, South Asia, and Latin America. P articipation in field projects may be limited.

Reading List
  Permission of instructor - information will be gathered during the first class session. This course will be conducted as a seminar. Requirements include attendance and participation, research and presentation of a case-study, and a significant final project. Students must obtain written permission for field work from their advisors early in the term in order to be eligible for this optional IAP activity. Students interested in field work must be prepared and able to travel internationally during IAP. The projects, proposals, reports, and case-studies will be done in teams.
  Total Grade:
15% attendance & class participation
15% case-study presentation
30% project proposal
40% final project