Workshop J

Pedagogy, Telecentres and CTCs,  and Community Informatics

Unfortunately this workshop had to be cancelled by request of the workshop chair. Please check out the other workshops on offer.

  • Peter Brodie Miller, Community Technology Centers Network, USA

Contact email address: peterm AT igc.org

Abstract

This full-day workshop provides an introduction / foundation / over-view for learning about community technology centers (CTCs) and telecentres and the field of Community Informatics in a customizable manner appropriate for a wide range of learning environments, formal and informal, basic through advanced and specialized. It does this through a selection and analysis of sixteen case studies that serves as an optional chapter for an electronic textbook based on a version initially proposed by the editors of the Journal of Community Informatics. Workshop discussion includes assessment of material in each arena, exploring additional supplementary suggestions as well as peda-gogical issues.

Keywords

community technology centers / CTCs, telecentres, com-munity informatics / CI

Overview

The session begins with an overview of the centrality of telecentres and CTCs in their unique and generally agreed-upon role as the institution par excellence in providing technology access, education, and support for low-income, low-literacy populations, providing the institutional foundation for what was at one time popularly referred to as bridging the “digital divide.” Whether or not Internet connectivity, computers and other emerging technology are readily available in the home — a state of affairs not at all common for much of the world — physical centers that provide access, training, and support are a basic requirement for most people’s ability to use technology effectively.  In every country’s consideration of technology and its social and economic development, especially as it involves taking account of those not served by market forces, public policy has given at least some lip service and attention to supporting physical centres as well as developing infrastructure and exploring other options.

The first part of the workshop session provides a critical perspective on these key institutions through a selection of eight articles from the Journal of Community Informatics (JoCI) [1] and summary of some of the major lessons to be drawn from each of them. This part of the session concludes with a survey of eight selections from the Community Technology Review (ComTechReview) [2] that focuses on center profiles and models and some of the organizational support issues that informed the initial development of CTCs in the U.S. and bear upon the future of CTCs and telecentres in general.

In the context of developing this material as a chapter for a textbook in Community Informatics (CI), the second part of the workshop will take a critical look at the customizable, electronic JoCI E-TextBook, based upon the initial proposal by two of the JoCI editors [3]. Note that the current beta version of the TextBook [4], while actually ready to be used now, has not as yet been reviewed, and is scheduled for discussion during the first quarter of 2011, and that the workshop may well be based upon an updated version.

Workshop Discussion

CTC-telecentre discussion will note the contrast between the primarily non-U.S. venues covered in the academically-oriented articles from the Journal for Community Informatics with the collection of case studies focused primarily on CTCs and related projects and themes in the U.S., using field-oriented, practical material that comes mostly from the Community Technology Review, for much of its life the official publication of the Community Tech-nology Centers’ Network (CTCNet) and for its last five as part of the CTC AmeriCorps*VISTA Project, providing a ground-floor perspective on CTC development in the United States especially.  Discussion will include a focus on the nature of journalism and how it informs the field.

CI TextBook discussion will also include a critical review of current out of date texts, the need for a new one, the merits of a case study approach in general and the proposed text in particular. Workshop participants will be invited to share their own approaches, suggestions, and materials as well as ask questions and note matters than require clarification.  In inviting supplementary material suggestions for both the understanding and teaching about centre and centers and for the text as a whole, it is anticipated that a new version of the text will be one of the resulting workshop products.

Summary of Selections on Centres & Centers

The sixteen selections involved are listed below to provide some more specific sense of the substance of what will be presented.

From the Journal of Community Informatics:[1]

1. “My Experience with the Sengerema [Tanzania] Community Multimedia Centre,” Felician Bakoya Ncheye, Vol. 2, No. 3 (2006), Special Issue: Tele-centres.
2. “The Impacts of Community Telecenters in Rural Colombia,” Fabiola Amariles, Olga P. Paz, Nathan Russell, and Nancy Johnson, Vol. 2, No. 3 (2006).
3. “Community Democratization of Telecommunica-tions Community Cooperatives in Argentina: The Case Of Telpin,” Susana Finquelievich, Graciela Cecilia Kisilevsky, Vol. 1, No. 3 (2005).
4. “Looking Critically at ICT4Dev: The Case of Lincos,” Manne Granqvist, Vol. 2, No. 1 (2005).
5. “Youth Interns and The Strategic Deployment of ICTs for Public Access,” Rachel Gurstein, Susan Pell, Vol. 2, No. 3 (2006).
6. “Latin American Community Telecenters: ‘It’s a long way to TICperary,’” Michel J. Menou, Karin Delgadillo Poepsel, Klaus Stoll, Vol. 1, No. 1 (2004).
7. “Rethinking Telecentre Sustainability: How To Implement A Social Enterprise Approach – Lessons From India And Africa,” Meddie Mayanja, Vol. 2, No. 3 (2006).
8. “Trapped in the Digital Divide: The Distributive Paradigm in Community Informatics,” Virginia E. Eubanks, Vol. 3, No. 2 (2007).

From the Community Technology Review:[2]

9. “Laundering Extreme Approaches to the Challenge of Diversity” by Andrea Kimmich-Keyser, summer 1994.

10. “Playing to Win and the Community Computing Center Movement,” manifesto by Peter Miller, summer 1994.

11. “The CTCNet Start-Up Manual,” spring-summer 1997, and other pieces by and about Playing to Win and CTCNet founder Antonia “Toni” Stone.

12. “Community Cable Access and New Media Centers” by George Preston, Dirk Koning, and Barry Forbes, fall 1995.

13. “The Austin Free-Net and East Austin Media Lab” by Sue Beckwith, spring 1997.

14. “Connecting Pittsburgh,” by Kathy Schroerlucke, spring 1997, and follow-up ‘97 Conference Report by Steve Cisler, winter 1998.

15. “The Corporation [for National and Community Service] and the Digital Divide” by Peter Miller, winter 2002-03.

16. Current CTC resources: from telecentre.org to Dex-Con 2010.


[1] All articles available on the Journal site [1], using any of a variety of search feature options.[2] Articles available on ComTechReview archive site [2], or at [5], chapter 2.  Since these articles are comparatively short, there are clusters or collections that go with each as spelled out in [5], chapter 2, pp. 120ff.

Resources and Updates

This workshop proposal is based upon the presentation in two sections of the author’s recently submitted doctoral dissertation, Political Theory as an Avocation:  Community Technology and the Prospects for Democracy in America, chapter two, on “Centres and Centers: The Centrality of Telecenters and CTCs,” and the Epilogue, “The Journal of Community Informatics (JoCI) — The TextBook.” [5]

Participation

The workshop is open to those new to the fields of community technology centers (CTCs)/telecentres and community informatics as well as experienced researchers and practitioners.  Workshop participants are encouraged to express their interest in participating directly to session organiser Peter Miller (peterm at igc dot org) along with any special interests they have.

References

  1. Journal of Community Informatics.  Available at http://ci-journal.net.
  2. Community Technology Review (1993-2005).  Available at www.comtechreview.org.
  3. Gurstein, Michael. JoCI Textbook, JoCI editorial discussion list archives, 4 Aug 2009.  Available at http://vancouvercommunity.net/lists/arc/joci-editorial/2009-08/msg00000.html.
  4. Miller, Peter. The JoCI E-TextBook, current beta version. Available at http://pbmiller.t35.com/JoCITextBook.
  5. Miller, Peter. Political Theory as an Avocation: Com-munity Technology and the Prospects for Democracy in America. Available at www.box.net/shared/j13fhkjoym.

Organiser

Peter Brodie Miller, Founding Network Director, Community Technology Centers Network (ctcnet.org)