Spring 2013 - 62600 - PA680PB - Policy Research Project

Digital Inclusion in Texas
Though Internet access is widely believed to be increasingly critical to participatory democracy and economic benefits, the topographies of computer literacy and computer infrastructure are highly uneven. A variety of initiatives over the past 15-20 years have sought to address this “digital divide,” and to promote what has come to be known as digital inclusion. The resulting outcomes from these efforts have been interpreted as reflecting both success and failure. This course will examine the issue of digital inclusion, and evaluate policies that have addressed this complex of digital divide issues, focusing primarily on a number of recent government efforts to address the issue: the stimulus-funded programs mounted by the U.S. federal agencies NTIA and the Dept. of Agriculture, the federal eRate program, and selected foreign government initiatives (e.g., programs in Mexico, Europe, and India). One of the largest Public Computing Center efforts (a Broadband Technology Opportunities program area funded by NTIA), located in the Austin-Houston-San Antonio and points in-between region, will be a particular focus. This course will involve students in analyzing this issue from a variety of perspectives, including the viewpoints of clients using public computing centers, the institutional interests of those providing services, and national level policymakers. In addition to evaluating the impacts of this rich menu of programs and policy experiments put into place around the world, students will undertake original field research in order to assess the Texas Connects Coalition Public Computing Center program, the client for this study, and provide analytical recommendations that will enable this client to evaluate and improve the operation of their digital inclusion programs