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Methodology (Academic year: 2013)

Note: For more information on the 2014 methodology, please see the 2014 methodology page.

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Classroom lectures will be mostly traditional, albeit interactive and with frequent guest lecturers. Questions and comments will be encouraged. When needed, there will be "break out" sessions for group-based work and discussion.

The course will not have workshops/laboratories in the traditional sense. Instead, the course hands-on part will consist of a mixture of three components: blogs, mailing lists and twitter.


At the beginning of the course students will be divided into groups of 3-4 people. Each group will choose a topic related to the course program and open a blog (using either personal computers or those available in the Politecnico computer labs). Group members will post (and sign with their name) reflections, links, photos, video, audio, etc., related to the chosen subject. Blogs will be available under a Creative Commons license and may be promoted, linked and/or advertised on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, YouTube, Flickr, etc. The professor will follow the evolution of blogs, whose content (frequency, relevance, quality) and success (ability to elicit comments, reblogs and links, etc..) will be an important component of the final evaluation (see below). To encourage mutual learning, cross-comments, links, reblogs and, more generally, mutual attention between groups will be positively evaluated as well (of course, only if relevant and meaningful !)

Groups will be encouraged to choose topics that lead to interview people directly affected (or expected to be touched soon), in one way or another, by the effects of the digital revolution. Among the many possible examples: libraries, music stores, newsstands, etc.

Italian translation of documents of general utility for the course will also be positively assessed, as well as Italian subtitling of Internet-related videos, together with other activities aimed at increasing the number and quality of Italian resources available for course participants.

Finally, any Wikipedia edit that passes the scrutiny of Wikipedians will be much appreciated and positively evaluated. Each blog should create a page listing successful Wikipedia edits by members of the group (make sure you specify who did what, with a link to the relavant Wikipedia page).

Mailing List

The second pillar of the course will be the course mailing list. All students are required to register and use it. In addition to learning how to follow discussions and contribute to a mailing list, students also need to understand when to use the blog, when the mailing list and when twitter.

Students can subscribe to the mailing list either using their Politecnico di Torino email address or their personal account. In the latter case, they must communicate the address to the course's assistant in advance (in person, not via email): subscription requests from unknown addresses will not be accepted.


The third and final pillar of the course is the use of a twitter account. Each student will use its own account, and the group may decide to create and use a group account (eg., "@FutureOfTheBook").

Students are required to follow each other on Twitter, as well as to follow (and interact with) the course twitter account managed by Prof. De Martin and his assistants.

This course will not mandate the usage of any social network. However, students may also use social networks, provided that they give precedence to the three official pillars (blogs, mailing lists and twitter). Incidentally, the course also informs students that, apart from Facebook and Google+, there are also distributed and free social networks, e.g., Diaspora (see also Wikipedia's article). And also Twitter has its free counterparts, including


Learning will be evaluated by averaging the evaluation of each student's online production and the evaluation of a final (individual) essay. Evaluation of the online production is conducted during the entire duration of the course (that is, until 15 June 2012), and will amount to 60% of the final grade. The relative weights of blog posts, mailing list and twitter are, respectively, 65%, 20% and 15%. The remainder part of the final grade, that is, 40%, will derive from the evaluation of the final essay. Such essay will consist both of "closed" and "open" questions. This is to assess, respectively, learning of notions and concepts, as well as the student's communication and reasoning skills.

Online activity evaluation will begin in the days after the first lesson, and will cease at the end of the semester, Friday, 15 June 2012. Continuity of effort during this period will be a major factor of judgment. E.g., if one is inactive for two months and then writes many posts during the course's last month, he/she will be heavily penalized. In particular, students are required to write at least six posts during the evaluation period.

To effectively evaluate the online work of each student, we will consider for the evaluation only posts written and signed by a single student. Moreover, we will not tolerate copying from other web sites — of course, we will, instead, positively evaluate who cites another website for commenting it (see, e.g., the post by Brain Pickings' Maria Popova: "How Not To Worry: A 1934 Guide to Mastering Life").

Best students awards

The course's best students (identified as such by the free judgement of the Professor) will be eligible for special forms of recognition, including:

- being flagged to the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University for an internship in the summer of 2013 (with part of the costs possibly covered by a Nexa Center's grant - to be confirmed);

- being flagged for a stage / internship at the Nexa Center for Internet & Society at Politecnico di Torino;

- being flagged for inclusion in prof. De Martin's mentorship program, which will be launched later this year (3 students/year, totaling 15 students);

- being eligible to write their MSc thesis under the supervision of prof. De Martin.