Teaching Society & Technological Change

This is a Sociology class (though the field is quite interdisciplinary) that is a required course for IT majors at Great Bay. One of my goals for this class, then, is for my students to be able to think sociologically and have a critical analysis and ethical lens they can apply to their future jobs. Other students can also take this course as an elective, and it fulfills students’ social science requirement. As such, I wanted to make sure I am not just teaching sociology and the course content, but also explicitly teaching and reinforcing building skill capacities such as writing and critical thinking, as well as having students engage in social scientific research. Within the field, my impression is that one of the main content area goals is to teach students to appreciate and explore the social shaping of technology (and the iterative process between society and technology), as opposed to embracing technological determinism.

As part of the focus on critical thinking, I used projects for my assessments that required students to demonstrate they had understood and could apply the main concepts from the class. There were no tests and there was no final exam. We did not have quizzes either; students instead completed class reflections and reading investigations.

Readings: For our course text, we use Society and Technological Change, by Rudi Volti. I supplemented the book with these readings.

Scholarly Reading Presentations: Students completed three case study presentations in which they each read a scholarly article of their choice (from a list of options) and then made a presentation to the class, summarizing the article, connecting it to and analyzing it in connection to the concept we were learning about it, and evaluating it.

Research Project #1: Cross-Cultural Analysis: Thinking Sociologically About Technology
For our first project, students engaged in cross-cultural analysis exploring values and the development and impact of a particular technology. The project involved simple secondary data analysis using the World Values Survey and library/information research. The project was broken down into multiple parts. The final product was a slideshow presentation (with accompany notes) that students delivered to the class. You can see a compilation of the project overview and each individual assignment here.

Research Project #2: Cross-Cultural Analysis: Thinking Sociologically About Technology
For our second project, students engaged in a case study exploring a particular technology. They investigated the technology in terms of the social construction of technology as well as in terms of its relationship to social stratification. Students engage in a field observation, an interview, and information/library research The final product was a scholarly-journalistic article that was compiled together into our own scholarly magazine. Students read the magazine in preparation for our final class, and then for our final class students led discussions around the article they had written. You can see a compilation of the project overview and each individual assignment here.

I am teaching this class again this spring (2017), so am currently making substantive revisions to the syllabus, and assignments. I will update this page once I have finished making those updates.