Online Social Innovation Is a Draw For Technology Students

December 5, 2003

The course You, Your Computer and the Net, which provides students with a general introduction to computers and the internet, is introducing an optional stream, which will address issues of sustainability and social justice in ecommerce.

The optional stream addresses issues such as how can the spread of computers and the internet create new forms of commerce in which trust and reputation take over from profit as the controlling motivation. It also considers how online information can shift businesses towards serving environmental and social need.

The inspiration for the optional stream comes from a book written by Dr Gary Alexander who has taken over as course team chair of You, Your Computer and the Net and who will be leading online discussions based on his book.

Dr Alexander’s book eGaia: Growing a Peaceful, Sustainable Earth through Communications proposes a system of relationships that embody the principles of collaboration and sustainability. And at the heart of that system rests a co-operative free market economy that is powered by electronic communications.

Dr Alexander says: “The advantages of incorporating the book into the course are twofold. Course numbers will hopefully be boosted as the course will appeal to those with an interest in the type of Utopian ideas expressed in my book, while those who enrolled in the course to learn purely about the computer and the internet will be inspired by the ideas in the book. Their eyes will be opened to the radical alternatives to the present applications of e-commerce. So simply put, the book will increase interest in the course and the course will increase interest in the book.”

You, Your Computer and the Net has always been a popular course. But, due to competition and people becoming more computer-savvy, it is important to provide options which will widen its appeal and thus maintain its popularity,” says Dr Alexander.

Students who take up the optional stream will use the innovative PlaNet weblog ( as part of their discussions. PlaNet is dedicated to ‘planetary citizenship’, which creates a shared vision of a desirable future. Students will be invited to help develop this shared vision.

Editors Note
You, Your Computer and the Net: this online course examines how the internet affects our lives, work and business. Module 3 Understanding e-business, into which the optional stream is mainly incorporated, giPC and the internet developed, the implications of the information technology revolution, and how the ves an informed appreciation of the ways in which the internet affects businesses and business processes.

Dr Gary Alexander is one of the pioneers of the Open University’s use of online collaborative learning and has specialised in creating online educational support communities. He has long-standing interests in renewable energy and social transformation.

For more information on the You, Your Computer and the Net’s optional stream see:

For more information about You, Your Computer and the Net see: and click on the Technology section

Contact details
Gabi Nobis
Media Relations Officer Open University
01908 655026

Dr Gary Alexander
Senior Lecturer in Telematics
01908 653671