April 2010 Newsletter

WiderNet News

In the Spring 2010 issue:

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New Two-Terabyte eGranary Debuts in Nigeria

After two years of development, the WiderNet Project has made its first shipment of the new 2 terabyte (2TB) eGranary.

2TB eGranary Digital LibraryLast month, eight of the new 2TB eGranaries were shipped to Federal Polytechnics Institutions across Nigeria.

The new and improved eGranary contains over 14 million educational resources and a host of new dynamic capabilities, including a revolutionary new feature sponsored by the Intel Corporation: the Community Information Platform.

Not only is the 2TB eGranary three times larger than past eGranaries, but the new Community Information Platform (CIP) allows users to upload an unlimited amount of locally-created resources to their eGranaries using Web interfaces and built-in software.

Learn more about the eGranary Digital Library

Learn more about the Community Information Platform

Previous editions of the eGranary had only allowed users to view pre-installed information.  The addition of the Community Information Platform makes each eGranary installation interactive.  Users can now add and edit local content, thereby allowing for personalization and community information sharing.

The Community Information Platform includes a host of Web 2.0 technologies, like built-in Web editors, LDAP security, Moodle, MySQL, PHP, Drupal, and others.

Subscribers can set up unlimited Web sites on their server and use free, built-in software to make Web pages, upload files and share local information with each other.  This gives communities in the developing world a new ability to disseminate local information.

The Community Information Platform allows eGranary users to create local content such as community directories, course websites, social networking sites and virtually any other type of local information that can then be accessed by anyone in the community.

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WiderNet Concludes Year-Long Survey Funded by Rockefeller Foundation

The WiderNet Project has just finished a year-long investigation of the use, usefulness, and usability of the eGranary Digital Library. This was made possible by an evaluation grant provided by the Rockefeller Foundation.

Read and download the eGranary Evaluation Report

With the recent growth of the eGranary, both in the number of installations and increased capacity, WiderNet wanted to evaluate the current library to ensure patron satisfaction and identify any potential difficulties faced by eGranary users.

Overall the evaluation found a 70% rate of satisfaction with the eGranary Digital Library, a considerable percentage given the technical issues facing the developing world.  WiderNet aims to address the difficulties identified by the evaluation process to further increase the rate of satisfaction.

Many of the problems facing the eGranary are not ones that WiderNet can easily resolve.

“Some librarians reported as many as 5,000 students a year coming to their campuses with literally no computer experience,” WiderNet Project Director Cliff Missen said. “Providing training for these students to use computers as well as online information resources is a truly daunting task.”

In response to this request, WiderNet plans to develop and implement more end user training that can be utilized from within the eGranary itself.

The evaluation found that more successful eGranary sites have individuals within the institution who have taken responsibility for maintaining the site, advocating the eGranary, and training people to use the eGranary.

Those sites that have experienced less success with the eGranary lack individuals taking such initiative.  WiderNet intends to implement new training strategies to help new eGranary sites master the technology.

WiderNet plans to continue use of the survey in the foreseeable future, including adding the survey to the eGranary itself.  The hope is that in making the survey accessible directly from the eGranary, anonymous users will be more willing to participate.

Cliff Missen presented the Evaluation results at the Global Heath Conference, Unite for Sight, on April 17, and will present the results at a number of other venues as well.

The Rockefeller Foundation Evaluation Grant has provided access to information essential to the future success of the WiderNet Project and the eGranary Digital Library.

With the feedback gained, WiderNet intends not only to improve the eGranary but also to implement more training for its users to ensure the continuation of bridging the digital divide in the developing world via the eGranary Digital Library.

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Partner Highlight: Jennifer Abagyeh

On location in Nigeria, Field Associate Jennifer Abagyeh promotes the eGranary Digital Library to potential partners, provides installation and on-site technical support, and conducts training programs for technicans, librarians, and end users.

Field Associate Jennifer AbagyehJennifer sees that the popularity of the eGranary Digital Library has spread quickly as demand increases each day.

“Digital libraries are very new to Nigeria, so we receive it with great joy and very high expectations,” said Jennifer.  “It has become imperative for many higher education institutions to have online or offline digital library services before they can be accredited.”

Jennifer's pioneer work has demonstrated to the WiderNet Project the value of having an on-the-ground professional to help new subscribers adopt the technology.

"She's a good technician and a good communicator," says Cliff Missen, the director of the WiderNet Project.  "She has installed dozens of eGranaries and trained hundreds of users in a short amount of time.  We hope to expand this model to other countries soon."

Jennifer attends the University of Abuja when she's not traveling around Nigeria to support her eGranaries.

“I love looking at the people I go to install for and seeing the satisfaction they express in owning a technology like this one," said Jennifer. "And I love hearing from users of what they have been able to accomplish using the library. It’s a wonderful experience.”

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Upcoming Events

  • April 17-18: Cliff Missen and Mary White at Unite for Sight Conference at Yale University
  • April 25-29: Cliff Missen in Washington, D.C. for various meetings
  • May 23-26: Cliff Missen at LINC Conference at MIT in Cambridge, Mass.
  • May-July:  Ed Miner in Tanzania, Kenya, and Uganda to conduct eG2 demos and evaluations
  • June 18: Cliff Missen at Workshop on Technology and Disability in the Developing World in Seattle
  • December 3-9: Cliff Missen at SCECSAL Conference in Gaborone, Botswana

Please contact us if you are interested in more information on any of these events.

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