Institute Researchers Participate in 2015 iConference

Laura I. Spears, the Institute’s Research Coordinator, presented a paper and a poster at the conference. The paper, entitled Meeting the Needs of IT Stakeholders in a Northwest Florida State College, reported on preliminary results from the Institute’s National Science Foundation grant. Spears was the lead author with Institute researchers Jisue Lee, Chandrahasa Ambaparavu, Marcia A. Mardis, Nicole D. Alemanne, and Charles R. McClure. Publication available at the IDEALS repository at

2015 Annual NSF ATE Report

The goals of this project are to identify the workplace roles of broadband technicians; the education needed to develop skills to be successful in these roles; and the processes to sustain partnerships between educational and industry stakeholders. See more information in the NSF ATE Assessing Information Technology Educational Pathways that Support Deployment and Use of Rural Broadband 2015 Annual Report.

Information Institute Presents Paper & Poster at TPRC42: 42nd Research Conference on Communication, Information, and Internet Policy

Doctoral candidate Jisue Lee presented a paper in the Competition and Markets 4 session of the Telecommunication Policy Research Conference, TPRC42,  that compares the expectations of IT employers with the reality of IT career preparation. The conference was held at the George Mason University in Arlington, VA from September 12-14, 2014.

The study’s findings compared desired information technology (IT) competencies among the three core IT education stakeholder groups in Northwest Florida: current students at local 2 year and 4 year college, recently hired new professionals, and employers. These stakeholders consider foundational infrastructure design, operations support, and technology awareness as core competencies for entry level IT workforce. However, each of stakeholders’ expectations of general competencies demonstrate discrepancies, particularly in valuing customer service and communication skills.  This research suggests more communication and interaction for pursuing the mutually shared goals is needed between education and industry in order to decrease the gap between expectations and reality, improve student career success, build a strong IT workforce, and to keep it abreast of ever changing technology and user needs. The research paper is available at the Social Science Research Network electronic repository, or

Laura I Spears, Research Coordinator of Information Institute, presented a poster, 1 of 18 in a highly competitive poster session at the conference, titled: “Policy-Driven Workforce Needs in Northwest Florida:  IT/Broadband Job Competencies in Metro and Nonmetro Areas.” This poster highlights a major gap in the local availability and provision of IT jobs between metro and non-metro areas, the diversity of desired general competencies from job posting ads, and the misalignment of IT competencies between job posting ads and employers. The Information Institute will continue into the third year of NSF ATE-funded research to enhance and develop further findings and recommendations for both education and industry to successfully identify efficient student pathways. (The research is available at electronic repository of SSRN: