Giving the discounted a voice

Ian A. Lubin of the UCR School of Medicine

A book that Ian A. Lubin of the UCR School of Medicine edited – “ICT-Supported Innovations in Small Countries and Developing Regions” (Springer, 2018) – has won the “2018 Outstanding Publication Award for a Book” from the Division of Culture, Learning and Technology, or CLT, of the Association for Educational Communications and Technology, or AECT, an “international organization that values diversity of thought, culture and people whose activities are directed toward improving learning.”

“We received a strong set of submissions in response to our call this year,” wrote Tutaleni I. Asino, president of the CLT Division, in a congratulatory letter to Lubin. “Each submission was reviewed by our awards committee members and they found your book most interesting and relevant to CLT, with high quality of content, high anticipated impact to the field, and a high quality of writing style.”

Lubin, who also contributed a chapter to the book, joined UCR this year as a learning design and technology consultant after serving as an education faculty member at multiple national and international universities and a consultant for international development organizations. In the School of Medicine, he helps create optimal learning experiences for medical students, residents, faculty and staff, and the wider community the medical school serves.

The book, which took 18 months to compile and contains eight chapters written by well-respected leaders in the field of information communications and technology, or ICT, is intended for anyone using ICT for educational and development purposes, including administrators, teachers, instructional designers, and technology evaluators. It would also benefit educational technology policymakers, researchers, and officials with influence over resource allocation and implementation of technology innovations.

Topics cover relevant research methodologies, policies, leadership and management, and multi-stakeholder partnerships that are involved in adopting and implementing technologies in developing countries. The book includes many real cases from around the world, including South America and the Caribbean, Indonesia, the Federated States of Micronesia, and the Arab world.

“Somewhere in the course of my development as a researcher and scholar, I discovered that the work from which I derive the most satisfaction is in the interest of the poorest and most marginalized people,” Lubin said. “I believe in the innovative power of education to transform communities and societies. I also believe that in order for that to happen we have to be globally engaged, in the sense that we must be mindful of how our intellectual and academic efforts impact policy and practice on a broader scale.”

The book includes many real cases from around the world, including South America and the Caribbean, Indonesia, the Federated States of Micronesia, and the Arab world.

In compiling the book, Lubin explored his interest in how the global push to use technologies to improve education in poor and developing countries impacted the lives of the individuals who lived in these contexts. According to him, such books often do not get written for at least two reasons.

“First the individuals and contexts represented in such books are typically overlooked,” he said. “They are small, they are poor, and it’s just not perceived as sensational to write about them and their lives. Second, an endeavor such as this one forces us to reflect on our practices, which is not always the easiest thing to do.”

For education and economic development in small, poor countries, Lubin offers the following implications for our current use of ICT:

  • We hold a particular attitude toward knowledge diffusion that is often uncritical and culturally misaligned.
  • There is a high rate of failure, with many innovations never reaching implementation.
  • There is no guarantee that greater access to education through technology improves education quality.
  • There is still great potential to improve the lives of the worlds’ poorest.

“The world is becoming increasingly globalized,” Lubin said. “Local languages, cultures, and ways of living are being homogenized out of existence. The chapters in the book discuss the role of the “local”: the social conditions, governance, politics, histories, and ecologies that influence and challenge the implementation and adoption of the global technology in education agenda.”

He added that the book is receiving international attention, and the award belongs to the diverse group of chapter contributors.

“They do incredible work in the field and chose to give a voice to underrepresented ‘others,’” he said. “I also wish to acknowledge all of the reviewers, advisors, and others who made this book possible. I thank Springer and AECT for publishing and honoring our efforts.”

-Iqbal Pittalwala

New UCR/Carnegie Collaboration in Astronomy

The University of California, Riverside, and the Carnegie Observatories in Pasadena have established a UCR-Carnegie Graduate Student Fellowship program that will greatly benefit students in the university’s Department of Physics and Astronomy.

At any given time, the program will support two graduate student fellows. The fellowships will be offered each year. Each fellowship is for one year, extendable to two years.  Per year, the approximately $50,000 fellowship covers tuition fees, stipend, and benefits for each recipient. Recipients will be required to concentrate on full-time research.

“This is a great endorsement of the strength of UCR’s Astronomy Program — both faculty and students — by one of the world’s great observatories with a long history of major contributions to astronomy,” said Shawn Bowler, the dean of UCR’s Graduate Division. “The financial support is really very helpful as we try to find ways to support our students at the graduate level. The faculty who worked to make this happen deserve thanks for that alone. But the experience — and the positive contribution to the research of our students — is in many ways even more valuable to our students and our program.”

All students in the UCR Astronomy Program who have already passed their comprehensive exam are eligible to apply for the fellowships. A team comprised of UCR astronomy faculty and Carnegie science staff will review and rank the applications.

To apply for the fellowship, students need to submit a research proposal explaining the type of research they are going to perform while at Carnegie. They also need to explain how they will use the available facilities at Carnegie to perform their research. A steering committee will oversee the progress of the program and select the fellows. The first fellowship will be awarded in January 2019.

“Graduate student fellowships are very rare,” said Bahram Mobasher, a professor of physics and astronomy who was instrumental in realizing the agreement between UCR and the Carnegie Observatories, and will direct the fellowship program. “The UCR/Carnegie graduate student fellowship program will allow our students to work in both institutions and gain knowledge about future plans in astronomy. The program also brings two research groups together; the University of California and Carnegie are leading partners in the next generation of ground-based telescopes.”

The UCR astronomy group, one of the strongest astronomy groups in the UC system, now has 10 full time faculty — the result of strategic hiring to cover a wide variety of modern astronomy topics.

“As a result of this growth, a large number of research topics performed at UCR overlap with those performed by the science staff at the Carnegie observatory,” Mobasher said. “Further, both institutions are leading partners in Extremely Large Telescopes. A fellowship program like this is likely to lead to stronger collaborations between the UCR faculty and the Carnegie staff.”

The UCR Graduate Division will cover the tuition fees for two students per year. Carnegie will cover their stipends. The initial period for the program is five years and is extendable by another five years.

“I expect our graduate students will take full advantage of these fellowships, and turn in strong applications,” Mobasher said. “These prestigious fellowships will give them important new contacts, broaden their research experience, enhance career opportunities, give them access to telescopes such as Keck in Hawaii and Magellan in Chile, and give them the opportunity to learn about future developments in such Extremely Large Telescopes.”

-Iqbal Pittalwala

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