The SIG-III Blog

Notes from the ASIS&T special interest group in international information

Archive for the ‘Info access and use’ Category

Ajit Pyati, SIG-III Officer, in First Monday

Ajit Pyati

SIG-III’s Ajit Pyati (above) has just published an article titled “Public library revitalization in India: Hopes, challenges, and new visions” in First Monday. Here is the abstract:

With India’s growing economy and status as an emerging world power, a new consciousness is developing in the country about the need to reinvest in public services. The National Knowledge Commission (NKC) is an advisory body constituted by the Prime Minister to provide recommendations for improving India’s knowledge infrastructure. As part of this Commission, a set of recommendations has been developed to improve India’s long neglected library system. This article explores the implications of these recommendations, with a specific focus on India’s public library system and the social development gains that are often associated with public libraries. The potential of India’s public libraries to serve as community information centres (CICs) is highlighted, as well as the challenges that lie ahead in implementing a new vision for public library revitalization. The article serves as an invitation for concerted action, reflection, and dialogue with regard to this important and pressing issue.

The full article may be found here.

Article by Ajit Pyati. Blog post contributed by Aaron Bowen.

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Written by sigiii

July 8, 2009 at 4:47 pm

Current research on digital divides at the University of Washington

telecenter

Image by Mulya_74, used under the Creative Commons license.

My friend and colleague Karine Barzilai-Nahon recently posted a synopsis of digital divide-related research at the Hawaii International Conference of System Sciences, or HICSS. She notes different papers on different aspects of the divide, as well as on telecenters and information and communication technologies, including a paper co-written my another of my collleague friends, Chris Coward. These papers all look very compelling, and will provide some interesting reading in the coming evenings.

Karine also notes the work of the Center for Information and Society, part of the University of Wasington’s Information School. I am particularly intrigued by the landscape study that she, Ricardo Gomez, and Rucha Ambikar did — their methodology is here, and the actual study is here.

(Disclosure: I should point out that I am an alum of the University of Washington, which is where I met both Karine and Chris. This is why I am as familiar with the UW’s work on the globalization of information as I am).

I am definitely excited about delving into this research, and to incorporating it into discussions of international information on this blog!

Contributed by Aaron Bowen

Written by sigiii

January 14, 2009 at 7:04 pm

Best practices for digital education: A case study of ICT in India

Smart classroom

Image by Idiolector, used under the Creative Commons license.

Last month Leigh Linden published Complement or Substitute?, a useful study that goes beyond the question of whether information and communication technologies (ICT) can make a positive difference in education and asks instead how they may be best implemented to make such a positive difference. Writing about Linden’s research on the World Bank’s PSD Blog, Ryan Hahn offers the following summary:

Employing a pair of randomized evaluations of computer use in classrooms in Gujarat, India, Linden found that computers improve learning outcomes when they are used as a complement to the normal curriculum, rather than as a replacement for the standard offering. He also found that the weakest students benefitted most, as the computers allowed for further practice of material already covered in the classroom. Finally, Linden also found that the computers were about as cost-effective an intervention as girls scholarship programs, cash incentives for teachers, and textbooks.

Classroom in India

Image by World Bank Photo Collection,
used under the Creative Commons license.

What would be interesting to see now is the extent to which cultural attitudes towards education in Gujarat inform the effective use of these ICT in the classroom. Would the results be different in another city or another country that possesses different attitudes towards education? How so? I would love to see this research project repeated in one or more locations in different parts of the world. I would love to see how the results change or don’t change in different global settings. If you know of any similar experiments, please point to them in the comments — I would love to hear about them and have a dialog about the strengths of different digital education programs in different parts of the world.

Contributed by Aaron Bowen

Written by sigiii

July 17, 2008 at 6:27 pm

A very cool use of Second Life

Image by kedguest, used under the Creative Commons license.

Today I ran across these two articles, one by Tom Peter in the Christian Science Monitor, and the other by Holly Jackson at CNet news. These articles note the use of Second Life as a venue for intercultural exchange, particularly at the virtual campuses different universities have set up in Second Life. (See for example the image of San Jose State’s virtual campus in the screenshot above). Peter says that

Around the world, universities, and even the US Department of State, are turning to online virtual worlds to create cultural exchanges. In these immersive, 3-D environments, users from around the globe can collaborate in ways that were previously impossible.

He also notes a group of university students in the United Arab Emerates who used Second Life to visit a virtual rendition of Darfur, make a pilgrimage to (virtual) Mecca, and interact with a group of Korean students to promote a cross-cultural exchange.

I find this a very worthwhile and exciting use of Second Life (or a second life clone such as IMVU, Gaia, or There). I believe such interaction will offer positive benefits as the world continues to grow interconnected and international projects such as Mainland Brasil (the Brazilian version of Second Life) continue to expand.

Contributed by Aaron Bowen

Written by sigiii

July 10, 2008 at 6:04 pm