About the Seminar

Course Description

This course is for all students who want to participate as thought leaders in the use of technologies in any kind of social or organizational context, including public policy, application design, education, and business. To become thought leaders, we need to change our position from being merely consumers or users of technologies to participants with an ownership stake in how things are designed and implemented. This course provides the methods for this reorientation by learning the design principles behind our technologies and how these principles are used in evolving technical developments and social environments.

Combining Design Thinking and Design Doing

A major step in this re-orientation is learning how to do thorough re-interpretation of our technologies and media as interfaces to the technical-social systems that make them possible, not as closed black boxes accessible only to technical people. The forces of black-boxing (closing off systems to users) are driven by the current political economy, not by the nature or properties of the technologies themselves. Students will learn the conceptual tools for opening technology and society to the systems view in which we are a part so that we can reclaim ownership over the designs that make everything work the way it does.

A Necessarily Interdisciplinary Approach

We have a deep well of ideas and applications to draw from! Each student will build an interdisciplinary knowledge base with methods unified by the key concepts and approaches in systems theory (complexity, networks, modularity), design thinking, computational thinking, media theory, and recent cognitive science approaches to technology, artefacts, and interfaces. Students will learn the multi-layered extensible design principles behind everything from computation, digital media, and the Internet to the architecture of mobile devices, interactive real-time apps, and Cloud computing.

Objectives and Outcomes

By the end of the course, students will have acquired an interdisciplinary knowledge base of key concepts, design principles, and analytical methods for understanding computational and media technologies in the complex systems of their social-technical networks, including the conditions required for new developments and innovations. By acquiring the interdisciplinary knowledge and analytical tools developed in the course, students will be able to advance beyond being merely consumers or users of black-boxed technologies to becoming thought leaders for participating at higher levels in the major issues facing business innovation, teaching and education, and policy debates for designing future outcomes.


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