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Title:Impact of Community Technology Centers: Fishbowl Discussion of Methods and Findings
Author(s):Coward, Chris; Crandall, Mike; Becker, Samantha
community technology centers
international development
Abstract:Goals: The primary goal of this wildcard session will be to continue building an international community of iSchool researchers who focus on issues of information and communication technologies, public access computing, and international development.. A highly interdisciplinary, international group, the iSchool conference provides a unique venue for them to meet and share their common research interests, explore potential avenues for collaboration, and identify ways of further networking and disseminating their work. Topic: The Internet and computer technology have changed the way people live around the world. Governments, non-governmental institutions and entrepreneurs have invested significant amounts of human and financial resources in public libraries, telecenters, internet cafés, and other forms of public access. Due to resource constraints, shared access forms the dominant mode of access to these technologies in most developing countries. In the United States, virtually every library provides access (often free) to computers and the Internet. As a result, a large proportion of the world?s population has access to a place with computer and Internet resources ranging from basic connectivity to a suite of digital resources, databases, networked and virtual services, training, technical assistance, and trained staff. Despite these investments, however, we do not have clear evidence of the impacts of public access computing on the people who visit them and communities in which these centers operate. As a model, public access to ICTs has experienced success and failure, leading to both reinforcement of the belief that the model should be expanded and strengthened, as well as to claims that public access ICTs are ultimately ineffective. This wildcard continues discussion from the 2008 and 2009 iSchool Conferences on the growing research agenda around community technology. In 2008 Mike Crandall and Karen Fisher organized ?Let?s get wild: Building a national research and service agenda for community technologies and networking,? which drew over 60 participants and initiated a Wiki discussion that continued to 2009 wildcard organized by Clara Chu et al., which again drew participants from all ranks and built a strong iSchool community around technology and social change. This year?s community technology wildcard will focus on impact, specifically the research methods that are used to study forms of impact, the challenges inherent in doing so (particularly across different geographical, cultural and political landscapes), baseline indicators that can be shared across studies or applications to create metacategories, and how empirical findings have been (or can be) used to inform policy and decision-making, application design, and service delivery.
Issue Date:2010-02-03
Genre:Conference Paper / Presentation
Date Available in IDEALS:2010-02-24

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