Conference on Communities and Technologies

Fourth International Conference on Communities and Technologies
June 25-27, 2009, on the campus of the Pennsylvania State University

Paper submission deadline: December 15, 2008


The Communities and Technologies biennial international conference serves as a forum for stimulating and disseminating research on the complex connections between communities - both physical and virtual - and information and communication technologies. Researchers studying aspects of the interaction between communities and technologies from any disciplinary perspective are invited to participate.

Sponsored by Microsoft Research and Penn State's College of Information Sciences and Technology. In cooperation with the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM SIGCHI and SIGCAS). Proceedings will be published in the ACM Digital Library.

Information technology is not just for people who bowl alone!


Intelligent Communities

Creating a More Connected Community with Broadband: An Intelligent Communities ePanel

As friends of the Intelligent Community Forum, we would like to invite you to a special ePanel organized by the Ontario Ministry of Government Services:

What: An online discussion with four leaders of communities named as Intelligent Communities on how their communities are using broadband to help citizens and organizations increase their efficiency, expand their knowledge and improve living standards.

When: Tuesday, November 25, 2008, 9:00 am - 10:30 am EST

Where: http://digitalontario.na3.acrobat.com/intelligentcommunities/
** You must pre-register by emailing digitalontario@ontario.ca **

Minimum Computer Requirements: Pentium II, 128mb RAM, 56kpbs Internet connection, speakers or headphones, most common internet browsers. (For full compatibilities, visit www.adobe.com/products/acrobatconnectpro/systemreqs/)

ePanel Moderator:
Louis Zacharilla, Co-Founder, Intelligent Community Forum

ePanel Experts:
Gordon Kennedy, Former Deputy Chief Executive, Scottish Enterprise, City of Glasgow - 2004 Intelligent Community of the Year

William Lin, Chief Executive Officer, Dragon Telecom, Tianjin, China - Two-time Top 7 Intelligent Community

Lev Gonick, Vice President, Information Technology Services, Case Western Reserve University, City of Cleveland - Two-time Top 7 Intelligent Community

Thomas Hurst, Chief Investment Officer, City of Sunderland - Five-time Top 7 Intelligent Community

Find out how the Intelligent Community Forum defines intelligent communities. Register for the ePanel today - spots are limited! Participants will be able to ask questions, rate content, take quick surveys and post comments.

For more information on ICF and the criteria for evaluating intelligent communities, please visit the Web site: http://www.intelligentcommunity.org

ePanels support the Ministry of Government Services’ (MGS) research into the challenges and opportunities of broadband technology.


Fifth Pan-Commonwealth Forum on Open Learning (PCF5)

The the Fifth Pan-Commonwealth Forum on Open Learning (PCF5), held at the University of London in July 2008, was a huge success. It was advertised in this blog on February 25, 2008, when I was eagerly anticipating going. Unfortunately I couldn't attend - instead I had an appointment with a Gamma Knife machine :-)

Here are some details of the event taken from an article in Connections/EdTech News, October 2008.


More than 700 delegates from 70 countries attended the Fifth Pan-Commonwealth Forum on Open Learning (PCF5) at the University of London in July 2008. COL's biennial forum has grown to become one of the world's leading international conferences on learning and global development. This year's forum was by far the largest. The theme of PCF5 was "Access to Learning for Development" and the unique contributions that open and distance learning (ODL) can make towards achieving international development goals.

There were more than 320 papers, workshops and discussions around the forum's four main action themes:
. Children and young people;
. Governance, conflict and social justice;
. Health; and
. Livelihoods.

Three cross-cutting issues - appropriate learning technologies, institutions and learner support - helped to inform the discussions. Over four days, delegates discussed best practices, shared their experiences and were inspired by keynotes from leaders in ODL.

COL's Excellence in Distance Education Awards were also presented at PCF5.


PCF5 was hosted by COL in partnership with the University of London, forming a part of the University's celebration of the 150th anniversary of the establishment of its External Programme.

Vice Chancellor Sir Graeme Davies opened PCF5 with comments about the world's first open access university - the University of London. While many people associate distance education with the Internet and modern technology, the University of London began offering distance education in 1858 to enable people to learn without having to come to London. They exploited state-of-the-art technologies of the day - the postal service (developed to take advantage of the new railways) and the printing press. The University of London worked with partner institutions that provided local support and in so doing, helped to develop universities throughout the Commonwealth.

Charles Dickens' magazine, All the Year Round, called the University of London "the people's university". The External Programme's many graduates include five Nobel Prize winners, many heads of state and prisoners of war during World War I and II.

............. and finally, what everyone has been waiting for ...........


COL President Sir John Daniel and Dr. Latha Pillai, Pro Vice-Chancellor of India's Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU), took the podium at PCF5 in London to announce that the Sixth Pan-Commonwealth Forum on Open Learning will be held in Kochi (Cochin, Kerala), India, co-hosted by IGNOU in late November 2010.


Towards a digital Quito

Original article: "E-government, access and transparency route: Towards a digital Quito,
06-11-2008 (Quito)"

E-government, access and transparency route: Towards a digital QuitoTraditional Ecuadorian chiva inviting citizens for a trip to a cybernarium.

All through this month, a local chiva, the traditional Ecuadorian bus, will be travelling to popular neighbourhoods of Quito and inviting citizens to get on for a trip to the closest cybernarium, the capital’s public Internet access centres. Once in the cybernariums, free training courses are to be provided on how to access local government information and use e-government services.

This activity is part of UNESCO’s IFAP project ‘E-Government Model for World Heritage Cities - Cartagena de Indias (Colombia), Quito (Ecuador) and Cusco (Peru)’, supported by the Spanish government and implemented in collaboration with the Municipality of the Metropolitan District of Quito.

In addition to the bus, radio and television spots will be broadcast daily in order to disseminate the information as widely as possible and invite citizens to participate. Local secondary schools will also be sending their students.

Target groups for this activity are secondary school students, neighbourhood leaders, social workers and organizations as well as house wives and elderly people. Each cybernarium will receive daily groups of 150 people, who will be divided into smaller groups of 25 for the training sessions. After each training course, the participants will receive a certificate as well as a set of information materials.

The main objective of this initiative is to sensitise citizens on the benefits of e-government services in a festive environment, motivating them to use information and communication technologies (ICT) without fear.

My comment: This top-down model of providing access to "local government information" and "e-government services" didn't work particularly well in Australia some years ago - thank goodness the government improved its approach later. We need to get away from using ICT to "deliver information" and embrace using ICTS to "communicate with one another".