Grant Number: 503997
- Description: Standard Grant
- Associated Project:
- Award Date:
- Award Period: 2004-10-01 to 2005-09-30
- Amount: $ 25906.00
University of Pittsburgh
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This is a proposal for a grant to promote service-learning as a model for the dissemination of Information Technology Literacy (ITL). Service-learning promotes mutually beneficial partnerships between academic institutions and communities. One goal is to empower communities to identify ITL needs that students can fulfill as part of their education. This grant would enable two central Iowa universities--Drake and Iowa State--to reach out to communities in need of ITL training and to assess the efficacy of service-learning interventions. Citizens are increasingly expected to interface with government using IT (ex. firstgov.gov). A number of studies have identified unequal levels of ITL as a significant barrier to equity in citizenship. While access to the Internet steadily expands, the ability to take advantage of increasing access hinges on the level of ITL among citizens. Community members, particularly in certain more vulnerable groups, often lack basic skills and concepts required when navigating an expanding electronic interface with government. Whereas IT should make it easier for all citizens to conduct their routine business with the government, in fact, it appears to be widening the gap between the IT literate and those without basic navigational skills. The primary objective of this research project is to test the efficacy of service-learning programs that seek to universalize digital citizenship. Three related objectives are to:
Define Information Technology Literacy (ITL) using broad and systematic criteria.
Develop, implement, and evaluate "best practices" for using service-learning in the dissemination of ITL.
Test the hypothesis that service-learning lessens the digital divide.
The proposed methodology uses experimental and control groups representing varying
degrees of urbanization. A service-learning ITL class and fieldwork laboratory will establish links between undergraduates and the experimental groups. Researchers, students, and the serviced communities will develop and refine taxonomy of ITL skills. Experimental groups will be exposed to the service-learning treatment. Structured citizen surveys and focus groups will be used to analyze the data on program impact. Statistical analysis of covariance at specific points and variance over time will be employed to lay the groundwork for a predictive causal model. Several additional outcomes are expected as a result of this research. First, the study will model a new pedagogical intervention that links research, education, and community involvement in an effort to lessen the digital divide. Second, it makes the recipients of service the focus of scholarship. Most studies in this area focus on outcomes for the students rather than the recipients. Third, it focuses attention on the important distinction between IT access and IT literacy. Fourth, it promotes interdisciplinary research and training, as well as collaboration between public and private institutions seeking to incorporate IT into the campus curricula. Finally, it promotes innovation in the political science and education disciplines with the potential for a far-reaching impact on the basic definition of citizenship.