Carnegie Mellon


Current Courses

Innovating for Underserved Communities: Field Research Basics
The ultimate goal of this course is to teach students practical skills necessary to conduct effective field research on the topic of innovating for underserved communities. Overall, students will engage in assignments and in-class exercises that help them gain experience and prepare for future field research endeavors. Students will participate in a solution design process for a specific challenge faced by one of the underserved community partners of the TechBridgeWorld research group at Carnegie Mellon. This year, the course will focus on innovating for a small school for blind children in India. The outcomes of this course will seed the field research carried out by students participating in the iSTEP (innovative Student Technology ExPerience) internship during the summer following this course. 

Seminar on Innovating for Underserved Communities
The ultimate goal of this course is to familiarize students with ongoing work in the area of technology innovations for underserved communites. This seminar course will review several key publications and presentations on this topic and teach students the necessary skills to analyze and critique this work in useful ways. Class sessions will be dedicated to discussing reading/viewing assignments and each class discussion will be led by students. Assignments will involve analyzing, writing, and presenting critiques of specific projects. 

Software Development for Social Good
CMU has extensive global service learning opportunities promoting the advancement of social causes through technology. In this real-world project-based course, we will work closely with some of these projects to produce free and open-source software products of real and immediate value. Topics include elements of project management, design, and software development practices, tools, and techniques as required. Students will work in teams across all phases of product development, including requirements gathering, user experience design, software design, implementation, test, deployment, support, and maintenance. We aim to provide opportunities for students to interact with end-users who will directly benefit from these projects. In keeping with the goals of the course, all content created by students and faculty in this course will be released under free and open-source licenses.

V-Unit: Independent Study
The V-Unit enables CMU graduate students "to grow a vision" of what computer science and technology can concretely do for society in non-traditional and under-funded areas. Poverty, the environment, cultural differences, health care, energy are just a few examples of areas of great concern to society in general. We want to encourage our graduate students and faculty to grow a vision of how computer science and technology can make a difference and contribute to solving these problems of society. The projects are based on student initiative--students must submit a project proposal for review and approval prior to registering for the course.

Understanding and Broadening the Images of Computing
In this research and action based course we will explore computing from a cultural perspective. We will reflect on some issues often taken for granted e.g. are our attitudes to computing generalizable or culturally specific? How are computing and its workforce perceived and represented in US culture and in cultures from around the world? In particular we will be examining how images of the field might affect public attitudes, access to resources and understanding of computer science. This course is aimed primarily at students who are interested in exploring some of the broad issues of computer science and its cultural context. Students will gain experience in teamwork, teaching and presenting. We will use academic papers, web sites, group discussion/debate and popular media. Findings from our investigations will inspire the action component in which student teams develop and implement a public/outreach presentation aimed at re-presenting the exciting field of computer science with broad appeal in mind. 

Recent Courses

Technology and Global Development
This undergraduate course studies meaningful ways to use advanced technologies to support the development of communities where the world's poorest people live. We will review the history and politics of development over the last century, the economic and social contexts in which development work takes place and current applications of advanced technology for sustainable development. Students will participate in discussions and debates, evaluate existing development projects, participate in a simulation field study and a small group class project.

Artificial Intelligence for Sustainability and Health Care
This class is an opportunity to learn about latest research on the intersection of artificial intelligence and sustainability and health care. During this new course we will read about the current research in these exciting, high impact areas. Paper topics may include: adaptive clinical trial design, automated alerts for critical care, autonomous broker agents for smart grid markets, and predicting building energy usage. In addition to the readings, the class will be project-based.

Past Courses

iSTEP: Technology Field Research in Developing Communities
(new iSTEP-related courses listed above)
The ultimate goal of this course is to teach students practical skills necessary to conduct field research in the area of ICTD (information and communication technologies for development) and to show them that computing technology can have a positive impact on the lives of people in developing communities. A secondary practical goal of this course is to prepare iSTEP internship participants for their upcoming summer internship experience. The course will focus on Ghana this year, the selected community for iSTEP 2012. Students will be given an overview of the field of ICTD, introduced to real partners in Ghana, work within a multidisciplinary team to understand specific challenges in that community and design relevant technology solutions to those challenges. The outcomes of this course will be deployed in Ghana this summer through the iSTEP internship.

The Role of Technology in Learning in the 21st Century
Computing is increasingly harnessed to address pressing educational challenges of the 21st century: under-performing inner-city schools, integrating immigrants into the school system, irregular school attendance in rural developing regions, and women empowerment in the developing world. For educational technology solutions to be effective, however, their designs will in turn have to be informed by theories and prior research on how people learn. In this course, we will cover theory and practical applications of the Learning Sciences, Educational Technology and Human-Computer Interaction. These concepts will be framed around the above authentic problems, so as to help students fully appreciate the real-world relevance of the major theories behind how people learn.

Technology for Developing Communities
This graduate course studies meaningful ways to use advanced technologies to support developing communities worldwide. It focuses on communities that include the poorest 4 billion people: people who today lack access to modern technologies and infrastructure. Each student will carry out a project of the student’s design, and participate in a whole-class fielded project.

Human-Computer Interaction in the Developing World
This graduate seminar course explores the emerging body of literature on Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) in the Developing World. We examine the applications of HCI methods in developing world contexts such as education, agriculture, healthcare and microfinance. We cover developing regions which include Africa, China, India, Latin America, and of course, the so-called developed world. This course does not assume a prerequisite in HCI, non-HCII students are welcome, and advanced undergraduates are welcome to contact the instructor. Enrolled students will participate in class activities, write weekly reflections on the readings, and submit a term paper.

Online Learning and Communication Technologies
The purpose of this seminar course is to expose students to the foundational theoretical, technological, and methodological issues underlying previous work in on-line learning, to introduce students to the wide range of current on-line environments for formal and informal interaction and learning on-line, and to explore current research in improving the quality of experiences these environments have to offer. The course is oriented around a hands-on project of the student's own choosing and design that will offer the opportunity to gain experience with available tool kits and work towards making their own contribution to what the modern day web has to offer for on-line learning. A running theme in this course will be capacity building in university level education in the developing world. We'll discuss a new, in progress distance education project to offer an on-line machine learning course with Carnegie Mellon students together with students at IIT Guwahati, and the design challenge for course projects will be related to that.

Ethics and Policy Issues in Computing
In this undergraduate course students will discuss the social impacts of computing technology. The course will provide a brief introduction to ethics and to the history of computing and the Internet. It will focus on a number of areas in which computers and information technology are having an impact on society including privacy, freedom of speech, intellectual property, work, distribution of wealth, and the environment.

Technology and Development for 4 Billion (T&D4B)
This Readings and Research (Special Topics) course studied meaningful ways of utilizing advanced technologies for development with regard to the world's poorest people. We considered technology to be an enabler of development, and studied the intersection of technology, policy, and the business case with an emphasis on sustainable solutions. The course was an updated version of the ICT4B class taught in 2004.

Technology & Policy for Disaster and Humanitarian Response
This graduate course engages students in exploring the technologies and technology-related policies involved in response to natural disasters and humanitarian emergencies. This is a seminar course that will require active student participation and contribution. Students will perform literature reviews, contact practitioners, participate in discussions, document findings, and deliver presentations.


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