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Feb. 28, 2017
Doctoral student Melissa Hahn helps a Kenwood Elementary School student build an app. (Photo by L. Brian Stauffer)

Students at Kenwood Elementary School in Champaign are building their own phone apps. Some hope their apps will help solve big problems, such as curbing pollution or money management. Others will let users fight monsters that are trying to take over the world, or let users design a look for their nails.

Through an after-school program called App Authors, the students are getting an idea of what the career of a software designer might be like, as well as gaining experience in coding and learning to work as a team to solve problems.

The program was designed by researchers at the iSchool. The goal is to get students – especially those with limited access to technology...

Jul. 8, 2016

At the same time that humanity shifts toward digital ways of living and working, the proportion of senior citizens among the world's population is growing. Rejecting the idea that aging is just a matter of declining minds and bodies, iSchool doctoral candidate Noah Lenstra (MS '09, CAS '11) has explored digital literacy among older adults in Champaign-Urbana using information infrastructure theory and the extended case method.

For his dissertation research, Lenstra conducted one year of participant observation in senior centers and public libraries. This included two hundred and sixty-seven computer help sessions with two hundred and nine seniors; interviews with seniors and staff; and examination of institutional documents. Throughout this study he practiced the reciprocal research method.

Reciprocal research, devised in the Community Informatics Research Lab, entails providing service as you collect data and reporting findings back to community partners. Lenstra's...

Jul. 8, 2016

What happens when you give kids the opportunity to create their own smartphone apps? A developing interest in STEM, a boost in their critical thinking skills, and some really cool kid-created apps like "Jumpy Horses" and "Escape the World."

Those two titles are among the apps being created at the Douglass Branch Library in Champaign in a free six-week program that gives children a chance to explore, play, and eventually create their own apps, regardless of their level of experience. Recently featured in the Champaign-Urbana News Gazette, the app program gets high marks from the youth participants.

The program is part of the App Authors project led by Deborah Stevenson, professor and director of the Center for Children's Books (CCB), and iSchool professors Kate McDowell and...

Apr. 27, 2016

GSLIS Professor Les Gasser will speak this Friday at an Information Systems/Information Technology Seminar hosted by the College of Business’ Department of Business Administration. His talk—based on his forthcoming book—is titled, "The Sociotechnical Imagination: How to Understand, Use, and Teach the Modern Foundations of Social Informatics.” This seminar will be held at 10:30 a.m. in room 2001 BIF.

Abstract: After more than forty years of research, the modern field of social informatics has developed numerous insights and principles for explaining interactions among information/communication technologies (ICTs) and social systems such as organizations, societal institutions, and groups. Over time, consensus has grown around these scientific foundations, but there's still little perspective on how to use them to actually do "sociotechnical analysis of ICTs"—to expose specific enabling conditions and consequences of socially embedded ICTs, and to shape sociotechnical design...

Nov. 23, 2015

GSLIS will offer a new special topics course, LIS490GH: Global Health Informatics, for the first time in Spring 2016. Developed and taught by Research Scientist Ian Brooks, the course will be the first on the Urbana campus to expose students to the changing field of health informatics in developing parts of the world.

The course will teach students about the realities of health informatics in Africa and other parts of the globe, where the use of information and communications technologies (ICT) is improving the quality and safety of patient care. Students will examine the current state of global health informatics concentrating on open-source software initiatives, such as OpenMRS and DHIS2, and the transition from paper-based systems to increasingly sophisticated electronic replacements. They also will spend time studying the mHealth movement—medical services delivered via...

Oct. 7, 2015

Assistant Professor Nicole A. Cooke will speak at several events this fall, talking on topics ranging from inclusion in LIS to social structures of "small worlds."

Cooke is slated to speak at the 2015 Conference on Inclusion and Diversity in Library & Information Science (CIDLIS), held on October 15-16 at the University of Maryland. CIDLIS—formerly the Symposium on Diversity in LIS Education—draws practitioners, educators, and scholars to discuss issues of diversity, inclusion, and information access in the LIS field.

Cooke’s talk, "Diversity and Social Justice in the LIS Curriculum," addresses the lack of courses related to diversity and social justice in LIS programs in the U.S. and Canada.

From the abstract: Librarianship is a profession characterized by women, specifically white women, according to Census data and the American Library Association’s Diversity Counts document (2012). While...

Sep. 17, 2015

The National Science Foundation has awarded $6 million to US Ignite—an independent, nonprofit organization whose mission is to spur development of advanced Internet applications that enable transformative public benefit—for a project to develop “living lab” communities across the country. Participating cities will serve as testing grounds for smart gigabit applications. Announcement of the grant to US Ignite coincided with a press release from The White House highlighting the Obama Administration’s “Smart Cities” initiative.

The three-year US Ignite project will bring together researchers, community leaders, governments...