March 04, 2004

Conferences to explore information technology

by Tom Woolf

CARBONDALE, Ill. - Southern Illinois University Carbondale is partnering with four community colleges to sponsor a series of conferences exploring ways to expand access to information technology in the region's rural communities.

Southeastern Illinois College in Harrisburg will host the first "Connecting Our Communities" conference on Monday, March 22. Southeastern, John A. Logan College in Carterville, Rend Lake College in Ina and Shawnee Community College in Ullin will each host two conferences between now and July 2005.

Those attending will hear from speakers who set up programs designed to increase their community's access and skills in using computer and Internet technologies. Keynote speaker is Carmi native Carolyn Brown Hodge, named in April 2003 by Lt. Gov. Patrick Quinn as the first woman to serve as director of Rural Affairs.

There will be several breakout sessions during the conference on such topics as how seniors and rural residents may benefit from online information, online educational offerings and online job search/training/referral resources.

The targeted audience for the conference includes: community technology center practitioners, community development professionals, employers, educators, health and social service agency representatives, community- and faith-based organizations, connectivity providers and anyone interested in using information technology to enhance their communities.

The registration fee for the conference is $10, which includes lunch, and the deadline to register is Friday, March 12. For more information, contact Lori Cox at 618/252-5001.

Funding for the series of conferences is from a grant to the Illinois Community Technology Consortium from the Illinois Community Technology Fund. The purpose of the fund, created in 1999 by the Illinois Commerce Commission, is to ensure that citizens of rural communities and low-income areas of the state have access to advanced telecommunication technology.

SIUC's Office of Economic and Regional Development is a member of the technology consortium.

Promoting and developing economic opportunities are among the goals of Southern@150, the blueprint for the development of the University by the time it celebrates its 150th anniversary in 2019.