University of British Columbia Students Study eGranary Use in Uganda

In Uganda, PhD students under the direction of Professor Bonny Norton from the University of British Columbia have made the eGranary Digital Library the subject of their Doctoral dissertations. The students are using the eGranary Digital Library as a tool to advance digital literacy in East African nations.

Norton identified the use of the eGranary Digital Library as an effort to “democratize learning” by bringing the tools and resources available on the Internet to areas with no Internet connectivity.

According to Norton’s colleague, Professor Maureen Kendrick, “Definitions of literacy are rapidly changing globally. What it means to be literate now has everything to do with digital technology.”

Norton is a Professor in the University of British Columbia's Department of Language and Literacy and has spent over six years working to increase literacy in Uganda. One of the primary goals of Norton’s program in Uganda is to train highly qualified individuals capable of leading a new generation with the skills to create information using digital technology.

The eGranary Digital Library has played an important role in such training. Also known as “Internet in a box”, this library’s “plug and play” server allows users to access millions of digital media documents instantaneously. In this way, Norton and Kendrick have been able to teach the people of Uganda critical skills that come along with navigating a technology driven 21st century; skills such as searching and browsing.

Further, the device’s server is not only equipped with digital media from around the world, but is also equipped with the ability for users to create and publish their own stories. It is here that the device gives developing countries a voice in the “global conversation”--- a conversation, Kendrick explains, “that people want to be a part of.”

The eGranary Digital Library's portable as well as durable nature makes it the perfect fit for Norton’s long term goal: sustainability. In an age where communication takes place digitally more often than it does personally, Norton and Kendrick’s work in Uganda has helped to level the playing field.

For more information, please also see www.publicaffairs.ubc.ca/ubcreports/2009/09apr02/advance.html .