Connecting two doctoral programmes from two major universities

The Oxford Internet Institute (OII) at the University of Oxford, and the Internet Interdisciplinary Institute (IN3) at the Open University of Catalonia (OUC), have joined forces as part of a pioneering experience: a fully virtual seminar over a period of six months that brings together the resources of two doctoral programmes from two leading universities. This opens a collaborative path that will explore new teaching methods for the information age, and which will allow exchanges between faculty and students based in different countries and institutions. The course will be taught by Professor William Dutton (Director of the OII) and Professor Manuel Castells (Research Professor of Information Society at the OUC).

The virtual seminar series will be offered as a core course for doctoral students at the OII who are studying the social aspects of the Internet and related information and communication technologies. Lectures, research papers and readings will be posted and discussed by all the students and faculty participating in the virtual classes.

William Dutton argues that the Internet enables people to ‘reconfigure access’, and notes that: “we are doing exactly that with this course. My students and I will not only be able to cross national and institutional boundaries to work with Professor Castells and his students at the UOC, but also experience the social dynamics of a virtual classroom.”

Manuel Castells considers that: “this seminar will show the potential of internet-based interactivity to increase the quality of research-oriented teaching at the highest level of scholarship. It will transcend boundaries of space, time, institutions, and disciplines to focus on the substance of learning and researching in the technological environment that characterizes our society.”

This teaching initiative results from a collaborative agreement between the OII and the IN3 to facilitate the development of joint projects and exchange in education and research.

Interview with William Dutton (UOC Press Room, June 2006)

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Notes for Editors

  1. The Oxford Internet Institute is a department within the Social Sciences Division of the University of Oxford, and a leading world centre for the multidisciplinary study of the Internet and society, focusing on Internet-related research, education and informing policy-making and practice.

  2. The Internet Interdisciplinary Institute (IN3) studies the effects, use and applications of information and communication technologies on people, organisations and society and supports research and innovation at the Open University of Catalonia.