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 Information and Communication Technologies in Comm  posted by  duggu   on 1/31/2008  Add Courseware to favorites Add To Favorites  
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Keyes, Langley, and Lorlene Hoyt, 11.423 Information and Communication Technologies in Community Development, Spring 2004. (Massachusetts Institute of Technology: MIT OpenCourseWare), (Accessed 08 Jul, 2010). License: Creative Commons BY-NC-SA

Participatory mapping workshop.

Participatory mapping workshop. (Photo courtesy of Lorlene Hoyt.)

Course Highlights

Thesis papers from graduates of the Department of Urban Studies and Planning are presented in the study materials section. Student projects, which capture the heart of the course, are available in the projects section.

Course Description

This practicum subject integrates theory and practice through the design, implementation, and evaluation of a comprehensive community information infrastructure that promotes democratic involvement and informs community development projects. Students work with Lawrence Community Works, Inc. to involve constituents and generate solutions to an important planning problem in the City of Lawrence, Massachusetts. Final project presentations take place in a public forum, and serve to inform future development of the information infrastructure. Subject begins with an overview of the digital divide, e-government, public participation GIS, and neighborhood information systems. Subject includes a reflection component and a deliberate investigation of race, class, and gender dynamics.


Course Description

Students work with members of Lawrence Community Works, Inc. (LCW), a community development corporation dedicated to organizing and community planning, to advance the Reviviendo Gateway Initiative (RGI). The RGI is a long-term and resident-led community development plan that promotes family asset building and physical redevelopment in the North Common neighborhood located in the City of Lawrence, Massachusetts.

To begin, students will research the subject of individual development accounts (IDAs), a new and innovative asset building program. IDAs are usually thought of as helping individual families in terms of long term capital expenditures like homeownership and education, yet we will explore the ways the concept can be used for collective decisions in a given physical area. Students will work with LCW members to collect data and explore the potential implications of involving residents in an aggressive IDA program.

The course content covers three broad areas. They are: e-planning, community development, and reflective practice. This subject gives students an opportunity to acquire important professional skills by exploring the extent to which marginalized constituencies – like youth, immigrants, and minorities – identify problems, produce information, build power and consensus to affect planning-related outcomes using ICTs around a particular issue. Those skills include effective one-on-one and group communication, the production of a tangible product for the community, and the manipulation of such tools as HTML, Photoshop, Access, ArcPad, and ArcGIS.

Unlike the conventional model of academic research and the most prevalent types of applied research, LCW members will not function as passive subjects, nor do students act as experts whose principal responsibility is to deliver a final product. Rather the practicum follows a participatory action research model whereby students work hand-in-hand with LCW members. The course format requires students to form two distinct groups, each focusing their energies on a different set of tasks. The first group will conduct research on asset building through IDAs, interview residents, and create a web site to disseminate IDA information, while the other group designs a protocol for collecting spatial data, works with residents in the field to inventory the housing stock, and constructs a ArcGIS project that will reside in LCW’s Design Center.

Reviviendo means "return to life" in Spanish.


In October 2003, the Lawrence City Council voted unanimously to pass the Reviviendo overlay district proposal, which went into effect immediately. The overlay district, RGI’s first initiative, represents an historic modification to the zoning code that streamlines the approval process for developers and property owners interested in building or expanding structures. This victory is meaningful to the MIT faculty and students who worked to promote the overlay district in Advanced GIS Project course held in spring of 2003. For seven weeks and in conjunction with LCW staff, MCP students designed a neighborhood information system, or sistema de información sobre el vecindario, to publicize information pertaining to the overlay district project. The site is located at Reviviendo - Gateway Initiative. This course seeks to build on this work.


LCW Design Center

LCW’s Design Center is an in-house technical assistance office which provides support to the real estate, family asset-building, and community organizing teams. The Center's purpose is to make planning technologies available to residents, increase access across the digital divide, and train a team of youth and adult volunteers to provide analytical assistance to other residents. CommunityWorks' Design Center Team will be the primary link between local residents and MIT/DUSP.

IDA Program (Assets Build Communities - ABC)

ABC is an asset-building program primarily focused on building the wealth of low-income Latina women and youth, as both groups are impacted disproportionately by poverty and barriers to success. ABC is centered on IDAs, which are matched savings accounts with restricted uses to help low-income families gain tangible assets (such as a home or a business) and intangible assets (such as economic literacy and self-sufficiency). The twin cornerstones of the program are the savings and match dollars central to helping participants achieve their dreams, and the education, training, and counseling that participants receive to improve their economic literacy and financial stability.


Assignments are detailed in the assignments section.

1 10%
2a / 2b 10%
3a / 3b 20%
4 25%
5 5%
6a / 6b 20%
Other 10%
Total 100%


1 Course Introduction
Client Introduction
2 What's Happening in Lawrence?  
3 Site Visit @ LCW Assignment Due: Reflection Journal Entry 1
4 Reflection Assignment Due: Assignment 1 (Class), Confronting Logistical Issues
5 Introduction to IDAs; Guest Speakers  
6 IDAs Assignment Due: Assignment 2a (Group One), IDA Discussion
7 IDA Discussion (cont.)  
8 Data Collection Strategy Assignment Due: Assignment 2b (Group Two), Data Collection Discussion
9 Client Meeting @ MIT  
10 RGI Steering Committee Meeting (2 hours)  
11 Group Work/ Group Two @ LCW  
12 Open Format/ Discuss Readings  
13 Group Work/ Group One @ LCW  
14 Open Format/ Discuss Readings  
15 Client Meeting @ LCW  
16 Open Format/ Discuss Readings   
17 Group Work @ LCW Assignment Due: Reflection Journal Entry 2
18 Reflection  
19 Discussion on Scenarios Assignment Due: Assignment 3b (Group Two), Data Collection
20 Discussion on Data Assignment Due: Assignment 3a (Group One), IDA Scenarios
21 Group Work  
22 Group Work  
23 Open Format/ Discuss Readings  
24 Group Work  
25 Group Work  
26 RGI Steering Committee Meeting (2 hours) Assignment Due: Assignment 4 (Class), Report
27 Final Presentation Assignments Due: Assignment 5 (Class), Final Presentation; Reflection Journal Entry #3
28 Reflection/ Last Day of Class  
29   Assignments Due: Assignment 6a (Group One), IDA Web Site; Assignment 6b (Group Two), Customized ArcGIS Project   Tell A Friend