About Us – Now in our 31st year, still proud to be on the GMU team

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Hello everyone – welcome to ICASIT in 2023—we continue to examine uneven e-learning outcomes in postsecondary education and results of introducing digital tablets in jails and prisons

Last year we were active on several fronts, all very closely related to the overall mission that ICASIT has pursued since 1990 – examining the practical payoff of various Information Technology interventions. As usual an ICASIT intern has co-authored published research – this time it’s Dr Tumen Sosorburam, a medical doctor and researcher from China who is completing graduate studies at Schar School. She is the co-author of several published English language refereed articles in Chinese medical journals. In 2022 ICASIT did research directly related to the aftereffects of the pandemic in the context of learning technology postsecondary environments plus the effect of introduction of digital tablets in jails and prisons. We learned last year that there are some exciting success stories in our region. Prof. Ruth interviewed Dr. Amy Lopez, who was set up a very successful program at the DC Jail where there are 1500 prisoners routinely using tablets for a range of activities—educational, like studying for GED qualification and administrative, like  arranging for on-line family visits or filing grievances.. Her insights and findings will be part of this database now under development, along with those of over a dozen others around the country. Here are three published papers over the past two years

Ruth, S. and SosorburamT. (2022). Digital Tablets in Prisons and Jails—Is There Evidence That They Can Help To Reduce Recidivism?” Proceedings of the INTED Conference, Valencia March 2022 

Ruth, S. and Sosorburam, T. (2021). “Online Learning Solutions in Jails and Prisons—Could a GED e-Learning Paradigm Succeed? Edulearn Conference, Barcelona, August 2021

Ruth, S. and Sosorburam, T. (2021). “The Digital Chasm for Disadvantaged Students in Postsecondary Education—Bandwidth Is Only Part of the Problem” Proceedings of the INTED Conference, Valencia, March 2021

Previous ICASIT Projects and Stories

Uhunoma Edamwan
Uhunoma Edamwan

Uhunoma Edamwen, a Schar School graduate student, received ICASIT internship. He’s a graduate of the University of Virginia and has research interests in communications and the media. This semester he is helping to develop a number of databases for use by Schar School graduate students who are studying technology policy. The first database is already complete and includes close to a dozen links for each of about 60 different information technology challenges. It’s already being used in my artificial intelligence policy class, POGO 750. Here’s a story about another of Uhunoma’s successful projects

Update: Uhunoma Edamwen awarded $1,500 OLLI scholarship

The Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at GMU recently announced that Uhunoma Edamwan had been awarded one of their achievement scholarships to ICASIT based on his performance during the Spring Term 2020. The scholarship will apply to tuition in the fall 2020 term.

Previous ICASIT Projects and Stories– 2019

“Businesses are rapidly adopting MOOCs –universities aren’t-what can be done?,” In 2019 Jinhee Yi and I presented a paper at the 2019 INTED conference in Valencia, Spain, which examined a peculiar apparent countertrend taking place in distance learning in postsecondary education. MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) have for a long time been touted as an eventual supplement or even replacement for face-to-face learning.. What we found was that while distance learning is dramatically increasing on college campuses – over a third of the 19 million college students in the United States are taking at least one online course – MOOCs are barely making a dent in those numbers. Most of the distance learning is in a more traditional format, which we have called Plain Old Online Courses (POOC’s), after the telecommunications world’s long-time acronym for “normal” telephone lines, Plain Old Telephone Systems” (POTS). POOCs are typically designed by a professor or a team and utilize traditional learning management systems (LMS) like Blackboard, Canvas, or Moodle. In the article we also took note of the fact that many large companies have their own proprietary MOOCs, which are referred to generically as Corporate Open Online Courses (COOCs) and that these systems are flourishing. Incidentally, George Mason University had one of the largest growth rates POOCs from 2017 to 2018, 25%, ranking in the top five of growth rates nationwide.

Kevin Zhikuan Lin

ICASIT Intern Kevin Zhikuan Lin

The strategic paradox of online learning: administrators and students approve–faculty not so sure” Another ICASIT intern, Kevin Zhikuan Lin, and I have recently finished an article that will come out in March 2020. Kevin did some extensive review of almost 20 years of studies on the attitudes of faculty, especially full time and tenured faculty, toward online learning. It’s surprising but since 2003 the percentage of full-time faculty that are willing to equate online learning with face-to-face has generally hovered around 30%, in spite of the dramatic increases in students actually taking online courses over that time. During that same interval the attitudes of administrators toward online learning have been consistently and unhesitatingly positive, in a range of 70% approval. In our article we examine the implications of this somewhat unusual dichotomy – managers enthusiastically approving online learning but professors generally more hesitant, to say the least.

Jinhee Yi was awarded a $1,000 scholarship from GMU’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, (OLLI). The picture below is from the OLLI award ceremony at Fairfax Country Club on April 5th 2019.


Previous ICASIT Projects and Stories– 2018

At ICASIT we’re also going to be looking into the gig economy, examining the possibility that at least the sharing economy side of it may be a zero-sum game, where legacy providers as well as platform providers earn less over time. Personally, I have enjoyed presenting a lot of the ideas that we come up with at ICASIT for various public forums, especially Arlington’s own Encore Learning, and the thriving Fairfax group, Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI). These audiences are enthusiastic and I encourage anyone in our local area to check them out.

Finally, my own work at the Arlington Jail made it possible to develop a learning tool they can be used in any jail or prison in the United States to help volunteers know more about the breadth of opportunities available. Here’s a link to it. Story about ICASIT intern Lauren Faust, who developed it in 2018, is below.

ICASIT intern and Schar School senior Lauren Faust with Schar Professor Dr Ann Ludwick at The Country Club of Fairfax after the award ceremony

ICASIT Intern Lauren Foust Awarded OLLI Grant of $1,000

ICASIT intern and Schar School senior Lauren Faust with Schar Professor Dr Ann Ludwick at The Country Club of Fairfax after the award ceremony

Schar School senior Lauren Foust was awarded an academic scholarship $1000 from the GMU’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI). The venue was the Country Club of Fairfax where OLLI had its annual awards and achievements breakfast. Lauren was honored because of her exceptional work on an ICASIT project aimed at developing a new data resource to be used by jail and prison volunteers. Its purpose was to make fresh, new, interesting material associated with many facets of volunteering at jails and prisons more available to the volunteers. ICASIT director Stephen Ruth, himself a jail volunteer at Arlington County Detention Facility, described the relative insularity of most volunteers’ training and the ability of this resource to broaden their scope. “This database opens up almost a dozen areas associated with volunteering at jails and prisons that I never knew about – and it makes my job of teaching GED a lot easier, too”, he said. The database was officially deployed on April 30, 2018, and how is in use at several local jails, and soon will be more broadly deployed. It will soon be added to various websites of the Virginia Adult Literacy Council, and will be featured in other Commonwealth outlets also.

Professor Ruth’s Asynchronous Graduate Courses Spring 2023

POGO 750 DL1 Dangers of Technology: AI and Beyond (Elective Course Taught Completely On-line) For a 12 minute video description of this on line course by the instructor click here

If you would like to know more about ICASIT, contact me at ruth@gmu.edu. Or visit my personal site by clicking below.

Stephen Ruth