OUTREACH - University of Oklahoma
InfoPoverty World Conference IV

New Frontiers of the ICT: Services for Development

April 29, 2004
8:00 a.m. – 9:30 a.m.
The University of Oklahoma

Jan C. Simmons - director of the Center for the Study of Small/Rural Schools and the Public Service Institute at The University of Oklahoma      View Ms. Simmons' presentation

View Powerpoint Slide Presentation

Good morning, I am Jan Simmons, director of the Center for the Study of Small/Rural Schools and the Public Service Institute at The University of Oklahoma. I had the privilege of presenting by teleconference at this time last year regarding the unique educational needs and solutions for rural schools in the US. Today I have the privilege of introducing to you six colleagues who are actively involved at various levels in helping to improve the quality of life for impoverished peoples in the US and around the world.

In the push for connectivity, The University of Oklahoma hopes to fill the role of connecting key players who can have high impact in making the dream of information access a reality for all global citizens.

The University has traditionally played a “filtering down” role in transmitting research to corporations, organizations, and agencies—both public and private—and continuing down to the grass roots of society. We aim to serve in this traditional role of the university by promoting a level of understanding and personal connections—a sort of programmatic and societal “glue”—among four equally important roles in conquering the digital divide around the world:

  • those in policy-making positions,

  • those who command funding sources

  • those who are “in the trenches” installing hardware and software in remote areas around the world, and

  • those who are “in the trenches” implementing programs and supporting social change – the largest percentage of whom must be representative of empowered by country and local governments.

Without the vision of worldwide connectivity as understood by policy makers, those at the ground level of implementation will not have the ability to develop and implement programs that are sustainable and meet long-terms societal needs. Funding agencies can not have an integrated and coordinated plan for progressing toward worldwide connectivity.

Funding agencies, business, and industry best understand the long term economic concerns and returns of worldwide connectivity, but societal issues may register an impact on acceptability of use and sustainability of programs if policy makers and implementers are not included in the planning stages.

Those individuals implementing programs at the ground level understand that each community has its own unique blend of specific technological, economical, geographical, and societal issues. These unique characteristics are most seen and felt by those working at the ground level of implementation and integral to the community itself, but these nuances are often missed or ignored by policy makers and funding agencies.

Therefore, you see, each role is indispensable to creating sustainable connectivity. Each role: policy maker, implementer, funder has its part to play on the team. Without any one of these roles, programs lose viability and communities lose access and capability in their access to information.

Today you will hear from presenters who represent those in positions indicative of all four areas: policy making, funding issues, and implementation of programs for social change as well as hardware and software.

Panel of Speakers

Beginning our panel of distinguished speakers is Ambassador Edward J. Perkins, whose pioneering concept of community capitalism may prove to be a business solution that induces acceptance of advanced but workable business practices in less developed countries, thus providing means for meeting the needs of local communities as well as their global neighbors. Many of our colleagues presenting at the UN session from New York City came to know Ambassador Perkins when he was US Ambassador to South Africa or through his service as US Ambassador to the UN. His friendship and expertise is valued by those at the UN and by people literally around the world.  View Dr. Perkins' presentation

Ambassador Edwin G. Corr joins us by virtue of previously taped remarks. It is the strong belief of Ambassador Corr that societies may skip technological evolutionary steps, but they cannot skip societal evolutionary steps. However, we may certainly speed up or compress the growth process if policy makers, funders, and implementers consider ways to embed societal acceptance and use of connectivity and information retrieval into every day lives. Workers are easily trained to run plants and equipment, but if they do not also acquire a mindset for constantly seeking modifying, improving, changing, and moving forward, infrastructures will always lag behind.  View Ambassador Corr's presentation

Ms. Geneva Strech (also joining us by videotape) has the privilege of working with Native American tribes in remote and impoverished areas of the USA as they work to use Internet connectivity and improved access to information to develop culturally relevant programs. Geneva knows that the key to sustainability and integration of connectivity and information retrieval lies in the commitment of local decision makers. The push for connectivity is often from outside the community, but until the desire for information and other benefits of connectivity are driven from within the community, programs are destined to be short-term.

Dr. John Warren of the Al Sharaka Program for Higher Education in Iraq has extensive experience with programs designed to help governments improve educational systems. They are currently partnering with four Oklahoma universities and five Iraqi universities to restore and advance the higher education system in Iraq after 20 years of isolation from the global academic community. A key component of the program is to provide connectivity to Iraqi universities and full online access to peer-reviewed journals across all academic areas.  View Dr. Warren's presentation

Dr. Craig Hofford, Director of Health Promotion Programs (HPP), works closely with Native American peoples across the United States and Canada. HPP's annual conferences and trainings provide a forum where health and wellness professionals and consumers come together for personal and professional growth experiences. The overall program goal is to assist tribes, health organizations and native communities with implementing effective health education and disease prevention programs. Key issues presented during these gatherings include: diabetes; alcohol and drug abuse prevention; mental health; and developing healthful and culturally relevant lifestyle practices. Outreach applications to reservation areas and sustainability for these programs are common topics in the conferences sponsored by Health Promotion Programs.  View Dr. Hofford's presentation

Brad Quinn has worked extensively with funding agencies both as an auditor and in the area of compliance. Mr. Quinn is sought out by federal and state agencies, associations, universities, and all kinds of other organizations to help them implement programs that insure both that program goals are met and that sound fiscal management is applied. Certainly one of the unsung heroes of any social progress are those who help ensure that dollars are spent as they were intended. Ethical management is a basic, though oft unspoken, requirement of sustainability.  View Mr. Quinn's presentation

As I mentioned at the beginning, today’s presenters represent four key roles in the push for connectivity: policy makers, funders, implementers of support for social change, and implementers of hardware and software. We have discussed all but one of these issues, and Brad will present a comprehensive plan that may be monitored, measured, and managed in a way consistent with ethical fiscal practices.

After Mr. Quinn’s presentation, a panel of presenters will entertain your questions.

And now I invite you to join me in welcoming Ambassador Perkins to the lectern.

Thank you very much for your kind attention. We will now entertain questions from the audience. Although Ambassador Perkins was called away, our panel of presenters will be pleased to entertain your questions.

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