5 Courses for the Digital Age

The Internet—and the digital age it produced—has both simplified and complicated our lives. It’s given us easy access to an enormous range of information (think Big Data and Big Courses—in the form of massive open online courses).

But there are drawbacks: with greater access to information come privacy and security challenges. And there are plenty of claims that our attention spans are suffering

If your attention span remains intact, you can wrangle with topics apropos of our digital lives in the following spring courses.

1. Harnessing Big Data

Big data representation

luckey_sun via Flickr

Big data is having its moment. Our online activities—our e-mails, tweets, Facebook posts, online purchases, and YouTube videos— are creating mountains of data. The course Big Data Analytics explores the technologies that can be used to store, extract, and analyze huge data sets. If you want to learn to present big data in a meaningful way, check out the course Visualization.

2. Who controls the Internet?

The course Internet and Society: Technologies and Politics of Control explores how and why networked technology has failed to level the playing field across society. The course co-instructors state in the syllabus that “those who seek to control the levers of power around the Internet have discovered means of controlling its content and dissemination, through technological, monetary, normative, and legal means.” You discuss the forces at play and debate public policy issues. 

3. Legal, social, and political dynamics of the Internet

Photo of a lock

Alexandre Dulaunoy via Flickr

Do you understand the political foundation of the Internet? Do you have a grasp of how the cyber and physical worlds intersect? In the course The Cyber World: Governance, Threats, Conflict, Privacy, Identity, and Commerce, Professors Scott Bradner and Benoit Gaucherin pose these and many other questions. The course explores how security, privacy, and usability effect the technical and legal aspects of the Internet.

4. Managing virtual teams

Our networked world makes it possible to work from anywhere. But how do you effectively manage a team whose members are distributed across the world? In Managing Virtual Teams, you explore tools for leveraging talent, maintaining strong communication, and working through conflict. Classes meet weekly online using web-conferencing software.

5. Digital storytelling

On the Internet, everyone is a storyteller. And stories are being increasingly told visually. In Multimedia Communication: Introduction to Digital Storytelling, you learn to take rhetoric from the page to the screen (be it smartphone, tablet, computer, or TV). You produce several multimedia pieces, considering how to make a strong argument and keep your audience interested. This course is taught in a hybrid model, with a three-day residency where students get to interact with each other and the faculty.