Information and communication technologies (ICTs) are arguably the most powerful change agents in the present era. This course will examine the connections between ICTs and change, considering themes such as globalization, democratization, organizational processes, and the behaviors of individuals at home, work, and leisure. We shall attempt to understand these complex forces in depth, exploring their nature and the dynamic processes which seem to drive them. Our focus will be ICTs in their multiplicity of forms (e.g., the internet, new media, social networking, mobile devices, etc.), in shaping and structuring the actions and ideas of individuals, groups and organizations. The course will be organized as a collaborative research enterprise in which we examine these forces from a variety of perspectives, focusing on both change and stability. Through existing research as well as individual and team reports, we will ground our broad analyses in specific observations and data from the countries and regions on our voyage.
Field WorkCountry: Uruguay
Uruguay has distributed OLPC XO-1 and XO-1.5 laptops to virtually every (400,000) elementary school student and many (100,000) high school students in the country. This is arguably the most extensive OLPC (One Laptop Per Child) initiative in the world's transitional developed countries, and the first country to achieve "full device saturation in its public primary school system". This OLPC model has transferred to other Latin American countries, such as Peru and Paraguay. Plan Ceibal is both the policy approach (Ceibal is an acronym for Conectividad Educativa de Informatica Basica para el Aprendizaje en Linea: Basic educational connectivity for online learning) and the name of the organizational entity that is responsible for planning, implementing and evaluating the OLPC initiative. Our group will visit the Plan Ceibal organization, whose main office is in Montevideo. We will hear presentations and engage in discussions with senior staff who have been involved in all stages of the policy process. Lunch will be in the Plan Ceibal canteen. After lunch there will be further discussion and analysis of the initiative. It is possible that there will be a visit to a local school to observe the teachers and students using the laptops.