MAS.S61: Unpacking Impact: Reflecting As We Make

Creating impact is a hallmark goal of many projects and collaborations with the Media Lab. What does this impact look like to you? What are its boundaries, contexts, and possible unintended consequences? And how can you design with this awareness?

Course Description

In this course, we take a reflective and critical look into the wider implications of technologies in society, developing intentional awareness on those implications in our design, making, and research. Through student-driven projects, weekly readings and case studies, discussions with invited speakers, and blog posts, we will examine the contexts of our work — where technologies take shape, the audiences these technologies seek to address, and the design approaches, research methods, and the ethics surrounding these technologies. Students will also develop a major project of their choice, designing something new or investigating the wider implications of an ongoing project, which they will present at the end of the course. Ultimately, this course challenges students to develop an idea of what impact means to them and their projects, supporting them to become more confident and critical designers, makers, and researchers.

This course is for Media Lab and related graduate students interested in creating impactful projects in a way that is aware of the societal implications. Interested undergraduates should contact the instructors.

About the Instructors

Ricarose Roque is a PhD student in the MIT Media Lab's Lifelong Kindergarten Group and a fellow at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University. She designs and researches technology- and community-based learning experiences to enable people, especially youth, to build their own creations that contribute to their lives and enrich their communities.

Sayamindu Dasgupta is a PhD student in the MIT Media Lab's Lifelong Kindergarten group, where he designs, builds, and studies the use of computational toolkits for creative learning. Before coming to MIT, Sayamindu was involved in a number of technology-in-education initiatives, such as the One Laptop Per Child project, and he was also an active member of the Free/Open Source Software community in India.

J. Nathan Matias is a PhD student in the MIT Media Lab Center for Civic Media and a Berkman Fellow who researches collective action, online harassment, and governance online, through qualitative research with communities, quantitative methods, software design, and field experiments. He has experience in tech startups, nonprofits, journalism, and the humanities.