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Welcome to the course!

In this article, we talk a bit more about what the course will cover.
People taking photos using their smartphones during the Carnival in Brazil, 2018. We can see crowds gathered around looking at something, many wearing yellow. In the foreground we can see a woman taking a photo with her smartphone. She wears a red hat.

Our team carry out their research within the discipline of social anthropology and perhaps for that reason, we are particularly keen on the social aspects of learning. Interactive learning is usually both more fun and more effective than passive learning. But it is not just that: if you have a course about smartphones around the world, then nearly everyone has relevant experiences from which others can learn. We worked in nine countries, but you represent many more.

For these reasons, we strongly encourage you to turn this course into a place where you can learn as much from each other as from ourselves. Almost every step has a place for comments and there are many steps that are mainly geared to eliciting your discussion. There is also a practical exercise at the end of each week, where you can expand on the discussion from your own experience and also through interviewing your peers. So please post about both your experiences and theirs! Post about what you agree or disagree with in the course and why. Feel free to also comment (respectfully please) on each other. Futurelearn have provided a useful code of conduct for taking part in course discussions.

This course was created during the COVID-19 pandemic. In several of our fieldsites, not all research participants have regular access to a computer and during periods of lockdown, their primary channel for accessing the Internet may have been through smartphones. This has made both us, and the world, acutely aware of both the benefits and problems associated with this accelerated use of digital communication such as smartphones.

We’ll start this week with some questions designed to consider the assumptions we might have about what smartphones are and their consequences for our lives. Before continuing to the next step, we would recommend you spend a few minutes introducing yourself to other learners and saying a little bit about why you are interested in the course!

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An Anthropology of Smartphones: Communication, Ageing and Health

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FutureLearn - Learning For Life

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