Last week, TechChange Co-Founder and President Nick Martin taught a one-week course on Technology and Peace at the United Nations-mandated University for Peace (UPEACE). It was the first course of its kind taught at the university. Participants engaged in a variety of discussions, case studies, and practical exercises involving how technology can be used for building peace. The course also made use of a number of new technology-focused teaching techniques to ease the learning process.
Some highlights from the course:
- Flashdrives: All participants were given flashdrives with videos, case studies, spreadsheets, pdf reports, electronic readings, and other relevant material and at the beginning of the course. A number of TED talks, podcasts and videos were used instead of lengthy academic readings.
- Diigo Account: The class set up a Diigo account to collect, share and comment on relevant links that emerged during discussions. Participants agreed that this made it much easier to follow up on ideas and organizations of interest to them.
- Ushahidi Simulation: On the second day, the class used Ushahidi crisis mapping software to simulate monitoring election violence in Afghanistan. Stay tuned for a lesson plan on the simulation in an upcoming post!
- Video Games for Social Change: On day four, we played a number of “video games for social change.” These included Ayiti: Cost of Life, Darfur is Dying, Third World Farmer, Evoke, Our Courts, and Free Rice. Participants found this exercise useful and enjoyable.
- Twitter Discussion: On day five, participants engaged in a group discussion exploring the following topics: (1) How can emerging technologies best be used to build peace? (2) What ideas do you have for applying existing technologies in news ways to create peace? (3) How do we maintain the human or personal aspect needed to build peace in an increasingly technological world? The transcript of the discussion is available here.
So what did the students think?
“This was a great experience and showed that UPEACE is trying to keep up with the latest developments in social change. I highly recommend this course to others.”
“I think I’ve been missing the tech angle all this time in my work. “
“As an overview of technology uses in the field, this course provided an excellent foundation in knowledge and created many opportunities for future exploration.”
“One of the best course facilitators I’ve had, really enjoyed the focus on course activities to illustrate topics.”
“UPEACE is a remarkable place and the week long institute in Costa Rica is a refreshing taste of the educational experience delivered here. Highly Recommend.”
“Very dynamic and interactive class – a lot of exchange between students coming from different countries with different backgrounds and experiences. Great teacher too!”