SLIS Student Sarah Arena holds name badge

Service Learning and WiFi Hotspots

Can you tell us about these research projects, in brief?

I am currently working on two research projects. The first study is examining ethics in service learning with Assistant Professor Colin Rhinesmith and Meghan Doran, Assistant Director of Service Learning at the Community Engagement Office. We are interviewing community partners who have collaborated with local universities for service-learning projects to learn what they view as respectful and mutually beneficial in these partnerships. We are asking questions related to communication, student preparation, benefits and harms, and power dynamics in order to learn what respectful partnerships look like for community partners and their constituents. One of our goals is to provide recommendations for professors, students, and staff so that they create, participate in, and maintain service-learning projects that take into account community partners’ perspectives and needs throughout the duration of the partnership.

The other project is an evaluation of Boston Public Library’s hotspot lending program, which allows patrons to check out portable internet hotspot devices as part of the library’s circulating collection. We will be running interviews and focus groups with library patrons and employees to understand their experiences using the WiFi hotspots. We are also interested in learning how floating collections contribute to broader digital equity goals, such as by providing internet connection to patrons outside the physical library branches, circulating devices to higher demand neighborhoods, and increasing access to internet-based opportunities.

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College of Organizational, Computational, and Information Sciences


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