University of Maryland Fall 1999 Lecture Series


The Internet and Its Impacts on Society

Purpose:    To promote interest and discussion about the Internet and its impact on society
                 To create an interdisciplinary research community at the University of Maryland

Sponsored by:
School of Public Affairs
Division of Computing, Mathematical and Physical Sciences
       Department of Computer Science
       Institute for Advanced Computer Studies
       Human-Computer Interaction Laboratory
Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences
       Department of Sociology
Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities
Department of American Studies
College of Library and Information Services

Lectures Convened by Provost Gregory Geoffroy:

Universal Usability: A Research Agenda for Every Citizen Interfaces
    Ben Shneiderman, UMCP Department of Computer Science
    Discussant: Robert Kolker, Department of English
    September 23, 1999 Thursday 3:30 A.V. Williams Building Rm. 2460

Online Courses As Effective Learning Environments:
The Importance of Collaborative Methods
    Roxanne Hiltz and Murray Turoff, New Jersey Institute of Technology
    Discussant: Maryam Alavi, Robert H. Smith School of Business
    Discussant: Margaret Chambers, University Maryland-University College
    October 7, 1999 Thursday 3:30 A.V. Williams Building Rm. 2460
     Also sponsored by the Center for Engineered Learning Systems, Institute for Systems Research

The Internet and Civil Society
    Peter Levine and Robert Wachbroit, School of Public Affairs
    Discussant:  Don Riley, Associate Vice President and Chief Information Officer
    Discussant:  Harry Hochheiser, Department of Computer Science
    October 14, 1999 Thursday 3:30 1107 Van Munching Hall

Evaluating a Consumer Health Website’s Interface:
Heuristic Evaluation and Usability Testing
    Keith Cogdill, College of Library and Information Services
    Discussant: James Reggia, Department of Computer Science
    October 21, 1999  Thursday  3:30  A.V. Williams Building Rm. 2460

Online Communities: Sociability and Usability
    Jennifer Preece, UMBC - Department of Information Systems
    Discussant: Kent Norman, Department of Psychology
    October 28, 1999 Thursday 3:30 A.V. Williams Building Rm. 2460

World-Wide Web Surveys: A Tower of Babble?
    John Robinson, UMCP Department of Sociology
    Discussant: Jonathan Lazar, Towson University
    November 18, 1999 Thursday 3:30 A.V. Williams Rm. 2460

Patterns of Internet Diffusion in Developing Countries
    Ernest J. Wilson III, UMCP
    Director, Center for International Development and Conflict Management
    November 23, 1999 Tuesday 3:30 A.V. Williams Rm. 1112

The Internet, Electronic Media, Trust, and Civil Society
    Ric Uslaner, Department of Government and Politics
    Discussant: David Silver, Department of American Studies
    November 30, 1999 Tuesday 3:00* Reckord Armory Rm. 0117
    *Note:  This lecture will commence at 3:00
 
 

Contact Kathy Bumpass or Janet Sumida at (301) 405-2769

Refreshments will be available


Universal Usability:  A Research Agenda for Every Citizen Interfaces
     Ben Shneiderman, UMCP Department of Computer Science
     Discussant: Robert Kolker, Department of English
     September 23, 1999  Thursday 3:30 A.V. Williams Building Rm. 2460

Abstract:  Even if information technology becomes low in cost or free, designers will still have  to deal with the difficult question: How can web-based information and communications services be made usable for every citizen? Designing for experienced frequent users is difficult enough, but designing for a broad audience of unskilled users is a far greater challenge.  Scaling up from a listserv for 100 software engineers to 100,000 schoolteachers to 100,000,000 registered voters will take inspiration and perspiration. Designers of older technologies such as postal services, telephones, and television have reached the  goal of universal usability, but computing technology is still too hard to use for many people.  One survey of 6,000 computer users found an average of 5.1 hours per week wasted in trying to use computers.  This talk presents a research agenda based on three challenges in attaining universal usability for web-based services:

                                 -Technology variety: Supporting a broad range of hardware, software, and
                                  network access
                                 -User diversity: Accommodating users with different skills, knowledge, age,
                                  gender,  handicaps, literacy, culture, income, etc.
                                 -Gaps in user knowledge: Bridging the gap between what users know and
                                  what they need to know

This list may not be complete but it addresses important issues that need  attention.  Research devoted to these challenges will have a broad range of benefits for first time, intermittent and frequent users.

Ben Shneiderman is a Professor in the Department of Computer Science, Head of the Human-Computer Interaction Laboratory, and Member of the Institutes for Advanced Computer Studies & for Systems Research, all at the University of Maryland at College Park.

Dr. Shneiderman is the author of the book, Desigining the User Interface: Strategies for Effective Human-Computer Interaction (3rd edition, 1998).
 

Ben Shneiderman
Department of Computer Science
University of Maryland
College Park, MD  20742
email: ben@cs.umd.edu
(301) 405-2680
(301) 405-6707 FAX
http://www.cs.umd.edu/hcil
 


Online Courses As Effective Learning Environments:
The Importance of Collaborative Methods
     Roxanne Hiltz and Murray Turoff, New Jersey Institute of Technology
     Discussant: Maryam Alavi, Robert H. Smith School of Business
     Discussant: Margaret Chambers, University Maryland-University College
     October 7, 1999 Thursday 3:30  A.V. Williams Building Rm. 2460

Abstract: Are there any differences in outcomes between traditional classroom-based university courses and courses delivered online? What theories and research methods do we have to help us understand, under what conditions are online courses most effective? This presentation will briefly review the attacks of critics on the “virtual university” and then describe the NJIT Virtual Classroom (tm) projects.  This research program has included three studies that address the issue of the importance of collaborative learning strategies to the outcomes of Asynchronous Learning Networks (ALN): longitudinal studies employing student surveys, field experiment, and interviews with experienced ALN faculty.  The results support the premise that when students are actively involved in collaborative (group) learning online, the outcomes can be as good or better than those for traditional classes, but when individuals are simply receiving posted material and sending back individual work, the results tend to be poorer than in traditional classrooms.  Issues raised by these findings include need for improvements in system design, faculty motivation and training, and course design.

Roxanne Hiltz is Distinguished Professor, Professor of Computer and Information Science and Director, Collaborative Systems Laboratory at the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT).  Murray Turoff is Distinguished Professor, and Research, Teaching, and Program Director of the Ph.D. and M.S. in Information Systems at NJIT.  As pioneers in creating and understanding online communities, they jointly authored the classic book "In the Network Nation: Human Communication via Computer" (1978, republished 1998).
 


The Internet and Civil Society
      Peter Levine and Robert Wachbroit, School of Public Affairs
      Discussant:  Don Riley, Associate Vice President and Chief Information Officer
      Discussant:  Harry Hochheiser, Department of Computer Science
      October 14, 1999 Thursday 3:30 1107 Van Munching Hall

 Abstract: Although they disagree about what defines “civil society” and what purposes it ought to serve, almost all theorists and activists believe that it will be changed profoundly by the Internet. But it remains unclear whether the change will be for good or ill, because the key definitions and values are contested. Besides, much of the relevant empirical information about current Internet use is ambiguous or incomplete. Peter Levine and Robert Wachbroit will discuss concepts of civil society and the existing data and outline a research agenda.
 

Email for Peter Levine: p160@umail.umd.edu
Email for Robert Wachbroit: rw1@umail.umd.edu



Evaluating a Consumer Health Website’s Interface:
Heuristic Evaluation and Usability Testing
    Keith Cogdill, Library Information Services
    Discussant: James Reggia, Department of Computer Science
    October 21, 1999  Thursday  3:30  A.V. Williams Building Rm. 2460

Abstract: Developed and maintained at the National Library of Medicine, MEDLINEplus (http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus) provides users with access to sources of authoritative health information on the Web. In addition to links to external sites, MEDLINEplus also provides pre-formulated MEDLINE search strategies. Our formative evaluation of the MEDLINEplus interface was conducted in two phases.  In the first phase members of an expert review panel performed a heuristic evaluation.  The second phase consisted of usability testing with participants recruited from waiting areas in primary care practices. Employing multiple methods in the evaluation enabled us to achieve a comprehensive set of findings and recommendations.  Principal recommendations relate to enhancing the user-centered design of this website.  Future research on the information needs of patients and consumers will lay the foundation for the development of websites with designs that correspond more closely to these users' goals.

Keith Cogdill is an assistant professor at the University of Maryland's College of Library and Information Services.  He received his Ph.D. in information and library science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (1998), where he minored in medical informatics.  His research interests encompass health information needs and information seeking behaviors.
 
 
 

Keith Cogdill
College of Library and Information Services
University of Maryland
College Park, MD  20742-4345
email: kcogdill@wam.umd.edu
(301) 405-1260
(301) 314-9145 FAX
http://www.clis.umd.edu/faculty/cogdill/cogdill.html
 


Online Communities: Sociability and Usability
     Jennifer Preece, UMBC Department of Information Sciences
     Discussant:  Kent Norman, Department of Psychology
     October 28, 1999 Thursday 3:30  A.V. Williams Building Rm. 2460

Abstract:  Millions of people flock to online health communities in search of information and support from fellow-suffers. E-commerce entrepreneurs expect online communities to help sell their products. Educators hope online communities will take the distance out of distance education. Online communities are internet aspirins - the all-purpose cure. So how do we build
successful online communities? Developing software with good usability is half the answer. The other half is making sure that the community starts life with suitable social policies - i.e., good sociability.

Jennifer Preece is Chair of the Department of Information Systems at the University of Maryland-Baltimore County.  She was the lead author for the widely used book Human-Computer Interaction, and her latest book is Thriving Online Communities: Usability and Sociability, to be published by John Wiley & Sons in early-2000.
 

Jennifer Preece    Tel: (410) 455 6238
Chair and Professor    Fax: (410) 455 1217
Information Systems Dept.    E-Mail: preece@umbc.edu
University of Maryland Baltimore County
1000 Hilltop Circle
Baltimore, MD 21250
http://www.ifsm.umbc.edu/~preece
 
 


World-Wide Web Surveys: A Tower of Babble?
     John Robinson, UMCP Department of Sociology
     Discussant: Jonathan Lazar, Towson University
     November 18, 1999 Thursday  3:30 A.V. Williams 2460

Abstract: Several different survey organizations are attempting to track the evolution of the Internet in terms of access and usage.  Each has different questions, different sampling methods and different usage criteria.  How much do they agree on the diffusion and usage of the Internet? What do they suggest about how the Internet is affecting other activities?  Do they reach different conclusions about the inequality of usage of and benefits from usage of this new “democratizing” medium of the information superhighway?

The different surveys will be identified and contrasted in terms of their answers to these questions.  Contrasts with the diffusion of TV will be discussed.

Email: robinson@bss1.umd.edu


Patterns of Internet Diffusion in Developing Countries
     Ernest J. Wilson III, Director
     Center for International Development and Conflict Management
     November 23, 1999 Tuesday 3:30 A.V. Williams 1112

Abstract: This presentation will report on field work investigating internet diffusion patterns in developing countries, including Brazil, China, Ghana, India and South Africa.  These patterns will be contrasted with that of the United States.  The role of leadership will be especially highlighted.

Ernest J. Wilson III is the Director of the Center for International Development and Conflict Management (CIDCM) at the University of Maryland and Associate Professor of Government and Politics and Afro-American Studies and a Faculty Associate in the School of Public Affairs.  He is a Senior Advisor to the Global Information Infrastructure Commission.  His most recent work, National Information Infrastructure Initiatives, was co-edited with Brian Kahin and published in 1997 by MIT Press.

Ernest J. Wilson III, Director
Center for International Development and Conflict Management
Room 0145 Tydings Hall
University of Maryland
College Park, MD
20742-7231 USA

Email:  ewilson@bss2.umd.edu
http://www.bsos.umd.edu/cidcm/wilson/

tel (301) 314-7711
fax (301) 314-9256
 


The Internet, Electronic Media, Trust, and Civil Society
     Ric Uslaner, Department of Government and Politics
     Discussant: David Silver, Department of American Studies
     November 30, 1999 Tuesday 3:00* Reckord Armory Rm. 0117
    *Note:  This lecture will commence at 3:00

Abstract: Recent work on civic engagement by Robert Putnam and others suggests that people are becoming less trusting and are turning away from participating in their communities because they are cocooned in their homes watching television and surfing the Internet. Electronic media also present images of the world as mean and violent and many people see the Internet as a threatening place.  I present some evidence and rationales to the contrary: Television has no effect on either trust or civic engagement and people who use the Internet may even be more trusting and more engaged in their communities than others.

Eric M. Uslaner is Professor of Government and Politics.  He has taught at Maryland since 1975. He is currently completing a book, The Moral Foundations of Trust, and is part of a team at the University of Maryland investigating the social foundations of the Internet.

Ric Uslaner
Department of Government and Politics
University of Maryland
College Park, MD  20742
office home: (301) 405-4151
home phone: (301) 279-0414
office fax: (301) 314-9690
Email:  euslaner@bss2.umd.edu
http://www.bsos.umd.edu/gvpt/uslaner