Fall 2014 courses

Building for Learning (Aidan Feldman)

The web has already revolutionized the way that people consume information, but only recently has it been taken seriously as an avenue for teaching. MOOCs, online tutorials, and interactive applications all offer different means of learning, from the highly structured to the exploratory. They raise new questions around evaluation and assessment, while providing new avenues for collaboration and opportunities for students outside of traditional learning environments. In this class, we will examine various educational platforms and tools, and get the opportunity to speak with their creators. What can we offer to teachers to make their lives easier? What features increase and sustain student engagement? The course will be largely project-based, where students will learn frontend web development skills to build new web-based learning experiences and tools.

Cloudcommuting: Rethinking Point-to-point Urban Mobility Systems (Dimitris Papanikolaou)

This course introduces the theory, underlying technologies, and operational challenges of intelligent mobility on demand (MoD) systems, using NYC City Bike sharing program as a living laboratory.

MoD systems utilize networks of parking stations and shared fleets of vehicles (bikes, scooters, automobiles) allowing users to make point-to-point trips on demand. Today, more than 650 bike sharing systems around the world mobilize 3 million trips every day while at least 200 additional systems are planned. Despite their seeming convenience and advanced technology, asymmetric trip patterns cause many stations to temporarily deplete from bikes while others from parking spaces decreasing reliability and level of service in the system. Operators spend their entire usage revenues paying gas, trucks, and workers to manually move bikes from full to empty stations. Yet, level of service is often low. In Paris 48% of users find no bikes and 58% of users find no parking spaces available. In Barcelona, 50% of the stations are either empty or full during 30% of the time.

In this course we will explore how information technology, social mechanism design, and game theory can be used to design the next generation of intelligent self-organizing MoD systems that motivate their own users to rebalance the fleet using price incentives. The course will combine lectures, readings, technical skill workshops, and a hands-on experimental project in a collaborative studio environment.

Frugal Innovation (Catherine Muther)

This course gives students conceptual and practical experience in developing ideas, tools, products and processes to augment and improve the lives of the global poor. We will use a variety of resources and methods to explore the emerging field of Frugal Innovation, beginning with an understanding of the context and constraints of living on less than $2.00 a day. Students will learn to identify key principles and challenges of designing for the Bottom of the Pyramid; for example, relentless pursuit of affordability. What are innovative models of using communications technologies to serve an illiterate market?

We will use Case Studies that address real life problems in emerging markets, particularly in healthcare and financial inclusion, where the use and potential of communications technologies is proliferating. Classes will feature cases of actual products or processes developed to solve a problem or meet a perceived need– some successful and others not. Why? How do we know what success looks like? We will look at metrics, methods and markets to explore the question of measuring impact. Entrepreneurs and field leaders will come to ITP as guests to share their knowledge and experience, and engage with students. Student teams will work on a project to create a frugal innovation for a critical challenge in the lives of the global poor.

Maps, Lies and Storytelling (Andrew Hill)

Maps have an incredible potential to do good and evil. Throughout history access to a map has been synonymous with power. In this course we will look at why that has been true, how it has changed through the digital revolution, and how we can harness mapping to gain power. The course will take a critical approach to maps and mapmaking, trying to pick apart all the ways they can be evil and be used to do evil. Through that critical approach, we will learn how to use maps effectively to communicate data, create knowledge, and tell stories. Students will also learn how maps are changing. We will try to find innovative new maps to create, both unassuming and controversial, and share those with a broader mapping community to create a public dialog. Students will learn the fundamentals of mapmaking, using tools from a pencil to Javascript, to create original maps from original data. We will create interactive maps with tools such as Leaflet and CartoDB to make maps from our imagination. We will also look at collecting or creating new geospatial data to make original maps never seen before.

Project Development Studio (Despina Papadopoulos)

This is an environment for students to work on their existing project ideas that may fall outside the topic areas of existing classes. It is basically like an independent study with more structure and the opportunity for peer learning. This particular studio is appropriate for projects in the area of interactive art, programing, physical computing and digital fabrication. There are required weekly meetings to share project development and obtain critique. Students must devise and then complete their own weekly assignments updating the class wiki regularly. They also must present to the class every few weeks. When topics of general interest emerge, a member of the class or the instructor takes class time to cover them in depth. The rest of the meeting time is spent in breakout sessions with students working individually or in groups of students working on related projects.

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