April 28: Reflections from the Global Telecentre Forum

TASCHA Talk: Chris Coward and Melody Clark

April 28,  2011

Telecenters have long been one of the most prominent examples of ICT4D activity. Since their appearance in the mid-80s in Europe and North America, they have spread around the world, largely spurred by the interest to harness digital ICTs for development. With funding from national and local governments to foundations and social investors, the aim of the telecenter movement has been to bring underserved populations into the information society through computer and internet access, along with training and other services. To support this movement, IDRC launched telecentre.org at the World Summit for the Information Society (WSIS) in Tunis, 2005. After five years of incubation in IDRC, during which the second forum was held in Malaysia in 2007 at the GK3 summit, telecentre.org was spun out as an independent foundation in the Philippines. On 5-7 April, 2011 the 3rd Global Forum on Telecentres was held in Santiago, Chile.

In this TASCHA Talk, Chris Coward and Melody Clark will reflect on their experiences at the Santiago Forum. You will hear two different perspectives. Chris attended the first two forums and has been a longtime follower of telecenters through his research. Melody comes from the library field and for her this was her first encounter with the telecenter community.  The “talk” will begin with opening thoughts from Chris and Melody, to be followed by discussion. Some of the questions we faced in Santiago and will bring to the session are: What has been the evolution of the telecenter movement, and where is it headed? What has been the position of libraries within this movement? What should it be moving forward? What are the implications of the gulf between practitioner and academic commentary on the impact of telecenters and other public access venues? How can TASCHA research contribute to this community?

About Chris and Melody

Chris is co-founder, Principal Research Scientist, and Director of the Technology & Social Change Group.  Chris specializes in designing research programs that improve policy and practice. His work focuses on examining the social and economic impacts of information and communication technologies (ICTs), with particular attention to the role of libraries and nonprofit organizations in developing countries.

Melody is the Research Coordinator for TASCHA’s Global Impact Study. Recently she worked as a research assistant for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Global Libraries Initiative. Melody’s areas of interest include impact measurement, sustainability, ICTs in public libraries, and program evaluation.