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Cliff Notes May 2007: Volume 4, Number 2

Through Cyberspace


Once a week, students from disciplines as diverse as engineering, art, economics, biotechnology and computer science meet in one of the newest buildings on campus and speak to their instructor in Mumbai, India.

Using interactive, web-based technologies, Derek Lomas, an M.F.A. student studying social design and art and science integration, incorporates a live webcam, prerecorded video from the streets of Mumbai and a wet-paint wiki website to make the class function. The class is “Design for Development: Developing Technologies for Developing Economies” and Lomas uses his everyday interactions and interviews with locals to engage his students and encourage them to invent tangible solutions in a developing country.

“It increases the sense of connection to the people we are trying to serve,” says Lomas. “I am able to show them the street life by walking through crowded markets and letting students see what a rickshaw driver sees.”

Lomas admits that sometimes the technology they are dependent on fails, but so far this long distance experiment is working well. “As a class, everyone is very involved,” says Albert Lin, a Ph.D. candidate in mechanical and aerospace engineering. “It is almost as if we feel we have some type of ownership of the course because we are so committed to our projects.”



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