Spring-Summer 2005

America Connects Online Panel on Research and Community Technology Programs

Where is the research on CTCs and who's conducting it? Does the available research speak directly to CTC practitioners? What kind of data should we collect with/about/in CTCs? These and similar questions drove the “Bridging CTC Research and Practice” online discussion hosted by the America Connects Consortium, March 7-25, 2005.

The online panel opened with presentations by leading community technology researchers and practitioners, including:

While the topics of discussion ranged over many important issues, the main discussions centered around four themes: 1) finding research on/for CTCs, 2) the role of research in CTCs, 3) the importance of quantitative and qualitative data, and 4) recommendations for future action.

In response to subscriber queries about where to find research on CTCs, technology and learning, and technology and academic achievement, the panel agreed that there needs to be a lot more research done in these areas and that there is no one central repository that houses research related to CTCs. ACC is planning to update its Research section to address this need.

Panelists and subscribers alike emphasized that research on and for CTCs should be relevant and useful to both community technology practitioners and the communities they serve, what Peter Dowrick identified as a “community responsive” model of research. CTCs (and CTC researchers) collecting and documenting best practices was discussed as being especially helpful to the field. On the role of research at a meta-level, panel participants pointed out that in addition to providing evidence of achievements to funders, research also has the potential and (arguably) the responsibility to affect policy.

Finally, the discussion developed into a healthy exchange about the merits of qualitative and quantitative data and converged on the idea that mixed methods were a happy medium, where quantitative data has a role in persuading the larger stakeholders about the impact of CTC work and qualitative data has a role in understanding what, how, and why CTCs work.

In addition to the panel archives, America Connects has compiled a summary of the "Bridging CTC Research and Practice Panel" that includes links to the panelists, the posts organized by theme, and a list of resources about the topic.


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