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IN THE NEWS

Aug. 8, 2017
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A project led by iSchool Professor Les Gasser, "Simulating Social Systems at Scale (SSS)," has laid the groundwork for a prestigious award to a student researcher. Santiago Núñez-Corrales, an Informatics PhD student directed by Gasser, was recently chosen from among several hundred applicants to receive an ACM SIGHPC/Intel Computational & Data Science Fellowship, worth $15,000 per year for at least three years. 

Gasser's SSS project, which earned a 2016-2017 Faculty Fellowship from the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA), demonstrates new approaches to building very large computer models of social phenomena such as social change, the emergence of organizations, and the evolution of language and information. The project also explores new ways of connecting "live" social data to running simulations and new ways of visualizing social processes.

Núñez-Corrales is working on multidisciplinary problems in the project with three elements: (1)...

May. 11, 2017
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The App Authors project has been underway for over a year now, bringing kids and technology together to create apps through a child-centered curriculum at Kenwood Elementary and the Douglass Branch of the Champaign Public Library. The program, developed by the iSchool's Center for Children's Books (CCB), provides kids with varying levels of experience the opportunity to develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills. App Authors is now expanding its reach, working at sites in Maryland and Oregon as well as remaining in Champaign. 

"We're excited about expanding our reach this year," said Deborah Stevenson, PI of the project and director of the CCB. "Our partnerships with the Frederick County Public Libraries in Maryland and the...

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
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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
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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...

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