Information Institute receives National Science Foundation grant

Charles McClure, Florida State's Francis Eppes Professor of Information Studies and director of the Information Institute.

Florida State University’s Information Institute, part of the School of Library and Information Studies in the College of Communication and Information, will receive a four-year, $847,000 award from the National Science Foundation-Advanced Technological Education (NSF-ATE) program to support a study of the educational and career pathways of information technology technicians who support broadband deployment in rural Northwest Florida communities.

The project, “Assessing Information Technology Educational Pathways that Promote Deployment and Use of Rural Broadband,” 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 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 the 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,” said Charles R. McClure, Florida State’s Francis Eppes Professor of Information Studies and director of the Information Institute, who will lead the project as the principal investigator.

Project activities will align the efforts of educators directly to the needs of employers and industry as they integrate continued broadband deployment initiatives. The study will support the efforts of career technical education to facilitate economic development and connect the nonmetropolitan communities to a global society.

Marcia Mardis, associate professor and senior researcher at the Information Institute, and Ebrahim Randeree, assistant dean of the College of Communication and Information, will serve as co-principal investigators, along with James P. Froh, dean of the School of Business and Technology at Chipola College in Marianna, Fla., and Kathryn M. Stewart, dean of the Technology and Professional Programs Division at Tallahassee Community College. Florida State, Chipola College, Tallahassee Community College and a number of industry and private sector firms and organizations will closely collaborate in completing the project.

The project, which begins this summer, is one of a number of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) initiatives underway at the College of Communication and Information.

The FSU Information Institute is a research center within the university’s School of Library and Information Studies 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.