19th Annual CIRN Conference: 8-12 November 2021


Registration is open for the 19th Annual Community Informatics Research Network Conference, “Communities, Technology and This Moment“: 8-12 November 2021 co-sponsored by Monash University and Simmons University.

Please see the registration information: https://sites.google.com/view/cirn2021/programs-and-registration?authuser=0

Browse the virtual conference program at https://www.conftool.net/prato2021/sessions.php.  Note that all times are in UTC/GMT.

The theme of the 2021 conference, “Communities, Technology and this moment” aims to bring together the rich knowledge, experience, and practice of Community Informatics, Community Archives, and Development Informatics with a focus on data justice, digital equity, and community informatics response to this moment in history.  The 2021 CIRN conference will provide a  virtual space to explore how researchers and practitioners ethically collect information, including what happens when community information is intentionally left uncollected, and how information systems can be designed in harmony with communities.

CIRN is an annual conference that normally takes place in the wonderful atmosphere at Monash University’s campus in Prato, Italy.  This year it is online because of pandemic restrictions. It is  focused on sharing lessons, learning together, and developing strategies to build more inclusive, just, and equitable communities. CIRN welcomes researchers and practitioners working towards human and civil rights, self-determination, sustainable development, and social justice to submit a proposal to this year’s CIRN conference.The conference call is now closed Follow the links above on submitting a paper or proposal, costs, and other matters.

New Article in Michigan Journal of Community Service Learning


Meghan Doran (Simmons Community Engagement), Sarah Arena (Harvard University), and I have a new article in the Michigan Journal of Community Service Learning. The paper is titled “Perspectives of Community Partner Organizations in the Development of Ethical Service-Learning Guidelines” and it was published in a special issue on “Centering Social Justice in the Scholarship of Community Engagement,” co-edited by Tania D. Mitchell and Tabbye Chavous.

Here is the abstract

This research brings the voices of community partner organizations into the discussion of ethical obligations of university and student partners in community-based learning. We used a framework for service-learning ethics developed by Wendler (2012), which brings The Belmont Report (1979) on research ethics together with decolonizing, feminist, and participatory action research frameworks, to guide our interviews with staff members of community organizations about their experiences and beliefs about the ethical obligations of faculty and students partnering with service-learning courses. We found that the community organization perspective deepened our understanding of the categories elaborated in the Wendler framework (i.e., respect, reflexivity, beneficence, and justice) and situated them in relationship to one another as context, process, and outcome. Based on these findings, we introduce a relational approach to service-learning ethics that centers social justice, and we offer seven key principles to reflect the perspectives of community partners in our ethical practice.

The full paper for download can be accessed freely online from the journal’s website.


TPRC49 Presentation on MLBN Research


Chris Ritzo (M-Lab) and I presented our paper, titled “Measuring Library Broadband Networks to Address Knowledge Gaps and Data Caps” to the attendees at the 49th Annual Research Conference on Communications, Information, and Internet Policy, which was virtual again this year. The paper presents findings from our U.S Institute of Museum and Library Services funded research project to develop an open source broadband measurement system with and for public libraries across the U.S.

Here is the abstract from the paper:

“In this paper, we present findings from a three-year research project that examined how advanced broadband measurement capabilities can support the infrastructure and services needed to respond to the digital demands of public library users across the U.S. Previous studies have identified the ongoing broadband challenges of public libraries while also highlighting the increasing digital expectations of their patrons. However, few large scale research efforts have collected automated, longitudinal measurement data on library broadband speeds and quality of service at a local, granular level inside public libraries over time (including when buildings are closed). This research seeks to address this gap in the literature through the following research question: How can public libraries utilize broadband measurement tools and training materials to develop a better understanding of the relationship between library network infrastructure and digital services? In response, qualitative data were gathered through interviews with public librarians, IT network administrators, focus groups with patrons, and field site observations at 10 public libraries across the U.S. during the first year of the research. Additional interviews with public librarians and IT administrators were conducted during a UX design process, which helped to inform the development of an open source, broadband measurement system with and for public libraries during year two of the research. Quantitative measurement data using this system, which was deployed at 30 public libraries across the U.S., were then collected for our study.

Findings from our analysis of the qualitative and quantitative data reveal gaps in understanding between the perceptions of public librarians regarding their library broadband capacity and the actual performance of their broadband networks. While our study participants reported a need for broadband measurement data in their public libraries to justify infrastructure upgrades and improve communication with patrons, our results confirm that having access to data would also address knowledge gaps regarding the actual public library broadband usage and capacity needed to serve their communities digital demands. These findings have implications for state library agencies and federal policymakers interested in having access to data on observed versus advertised speeds and quality of service of public library broadband connections nationwide.”

The presentation slides are available for download here via ResearchGate.

Provost’s Faculty Fellow for Scholarship and Research

Simmons University

Today, I officially begin an additional appointment as the Provost’s Faculty Fellow for Scholarship and Research in the Center for Faculty Excellence at Simmons University. I am incredibly excited and honored to begin this position to help “craft and implement a vision for supporting faculty research and scholarship at Simmons University as part of a strategic visioning team.”

Here is a bit more from the overview of the position.

“The Fellow will help Simmons enact that vision by aligning work with priorities identified through the strategic plan, listening to and advocating for faculty needs in partnership with the Provost’s office and key stakeholders across campus, seeking external resources to support faculty scholarship as needed, and designing and implementing professional development programs and services for faculty related to research and scholarship, across career stages and position types.”

I look forward to working with the President, the Provost, and the wonderful team in the Center for Faculty Excellence on this exciting opportunity at Simmons.

Improving Digital Inclusion and Broadband Infrastructure in Native Communities

IMLS logo

I am incredibly honored and excited to announce that our Community Informatics Lab at Simmons University has received a two-year grant (award #LG-250043-OLS-21) from the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) to work with the Association of Tribal Archives, Libraries, and Museums.

Here is the description of the project that is available on the IMLS website:

“Simmons University, together with the Association of Tribal Archives, Libraries, and Museums, will examine how a participatory community informatics approach, guided by Indigenous ways of knowing about technology and an affirmation of tribal sovereignty, can support the digital inclusion and broadband infrastructure needs and aspirations of tribal libraries. The research team will work with tribal libraries to co-design the following: an update to the Association of Tribal Archives, Libraries, and Museums’ 2014 report, ‘Digital Inclusion in Native Communities: The Role of Tribal Libraries’; a Digital Inclusion Lab ‘how-to’ guide for Tribal libraries; and a final report with findings from the research. The project also will gather broadband measurement data to inform federal information policies aimed at improving digital inclusion and broadband infrastructure in Tribal libraries.”

Follow updates about the project on our CI Lab website.