Title Opening up technological education: the perspective from social informatics
Source International Symposium on Technology and Society, Worcester Polytechnic Institute, Massachusetts, USA, 17-19 June, 2004
Year 2004
Access date 05.03.2010

Science and engineering education in the U.S. has traditionally focused on the technical aspects of technology at the expense of the social, economical, organizational, and ethical aspects. This attitude has had profound implications for the transfer of technology to and from other parts of the world, many of which have already been uncovered and others probably discerned in the future. The current trend toward globalization calls for new perspectives that can accommodate the broader issues of technology. In this paper, we seek to uncover some of the limitations of the traditional view as it relates to the education of information technology (IT), and to propose the perspective of social informatics as a viable alternative for the training of IT professionals. Our discussion is organized around three major themes: (1) Socio-cultural: Technology is a social phenomenon and technological systems are socially shaped. In contrast to the traditional accounts of technology, which tend to characterize IT as a tool, the view of social informatics portrays IT as a socio-technical network, where technological effects are indirect, contexts are complex (matrices of business, services, people, technology history, location, and so on), and issues of incentive, trust, and understanding are central. (2) Economical: Technology is resource-dependent. The utilization of technology requires the availability of various resources such as infrastructures for communication and transportation, services, skills, and so on. The availability of these resources varies from place to place and from time to time, and a technologist should be trained to deal with this variability on a global scale. (3) Organizational/Managerial: Technology is implemented, used, and carried out in and by organizations, where relationships are complex and negotiated, knowledge and expertise is distributed and implicit, and politics is often central. Furthermore, there is a great variability across cultures in terms of management styles, organizational structures and hierarchies, work philosophy, time management, and so on. A technologist should have sufficient training to understand these nuances in any given setting. Technological education of a kind that meets the demands and challenges of globalization shou- ld pay specific attention to the above aspects. In this paper, we discuss the components of a curriculum that could better meet the globalization challenge.

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ICT & humans (1)ICT & society (1c)
SI areasICT & humans (1)
TopicsSocial Informatics
Science & Technology
Bibliographic typeConference proceedings
Year of publication2004