NSF makes award to FSU Information Institute to study IT education and rural broadband

For Immediate Release

May 13, 2013

Contact: Charles R. McClure, PhD



The National Science Foundation – Advanced Technological Education (NSF-ATE) program announced that Florida State University, College of Communication & Information, School of Library and Information Studies, Information Institute will receive an $847,000 award to support the four year project Assessing Information Technology Educational Pathways that Promote Deployment and Use of Rural Broadband. The project begins summer 2013 and is one of a number of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) initiatives underway at the FSU College of Communication & Information.


Charles R. McClure PhD, Francis Eppes Professor and Director of the Information Institute will lead the project as the Principal Investigator.  Marcia Mardis, PhD, Associate Professor and Senior Researcher at the Institute, and Ebrahim Randeree, Associate Dean at the FSU College of Communication & Information are Co-Principal Investigators as are James P. Froh, PhD, Dean School of Business and Technology at Chipola College (CC) and Kathryn M. Stewart, PhD Dean, Technology & Professional Development at Tallahassee Community College (TCC). The FSU, CC, TCC and a number of industry and private sector firms/organizations will collaborate closely in completing the project.

The project was prompted by the growth of broadband use in all industries that has resulted in a significant workforce need for IT/broadband workers. The project’s research will focus on the educational and career pathways of individuals working as information technology (IT) technicians who support broadband deployment in non-metropolitan communities in Northwest Florida.  The project team will identify the workplace roles of broadband technicians; the education needed to develop skills to be successful in these roles; and the processes to sustain partnerships between educational and industry stakeholders.

The results of this project will further define a field that requires flexible workers who can manage a constant stream of new knowledge and support work functions that are increasingly broadband dependent.  Project activities will align the efforts of educators directly to the needs of employers and industry as they integrate continued broadband deployment initiatives. This study will support the efforts of career technical education to facilitate economic development and connect the nonmetropolitan communities to global society.

In response to the grant notice, Kathleen Burnett, PhD, Professor and Interim Director of the School of Library & Information Studies at The Florida State University, said that “SLIS looks forward to cementing our relationships with Chipola College and Tallahassee Community College; We will work in partnership to develop technicians and managers who can lead broadband deployment across Florida’s large non-metropolitan areas.”  Larry Dennis, PhD, Dean of the College of Communication & Information, reiterated that message: “This project will do a great deal to expand the IT expertise in North Florida and is also laying the foundation for long-term partnerships in IT education.”

The FSU Information Institute http://www.ii.fsu.edu/ is a research center within the School of Information Studies http://slis.fsu.edu/  and has conducted an extensive number of externally funded projects in areas such as planning and evaluation of digital services; high speed broadband telecommunications deployment and use; rural broadband use and economic development; program evaluation; digital learning; and the role of public libraries and the Internet.  Additional details on the project Assessing Information Technology Educational Pathways that Promote Deployment and Use of Rural Broadband can be found on the Information Institute’s website at http://ii.fsu.edu/.