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Equipping Collaborative Computing Spaces: A [re] Design at the Mary Brown Center
Deven Gibbs, Suzanne Im, Shameem Rakha and Ithamar Ritz

Often in the design of public computing centers, little consideration is made for how users interact with each other, the space, and technology. The relationships among these three elements were the driving force behind the design, development, and eventual implementation of collaborative computing spaces at the Mary Brown Center. Located in East St. Louis, IL, which has been called "the most distressed small city in America," this installation is intended to provide not only the tools, but the environment to promote what educational technology expert Mark Brumley calls the "three Cs" necessary to succeed in the 21st century: Create, Curate and Collaborate.

The team on this project first isolated and defined a pioneering set of design principles, then applied those principles to the permanent redesign of the Mary Brown Center. Two designs were publicly presented to and critiqued by leaders and youth of the target community. Subsequently, design posters were displayed at the Center with sticky notes for users to post comments. The final design is a hybrid of the two designs with consideration for community input.

A discussion of how to assess and implement a user experience that exists at the intersection of technology and physical space may provide insight into how this process can work for a variety of places and purposes, from to Vancouver's Shaughnessy to Downtown Eastside.

Participant Bios:
Deven Gibbs is a first year Master's student at the University of Illinois School of Architecture. She is interested in the design of innovative spaces, particularly for furthering the goals of community and non-profit organizations.

Suzanne Im is a second year Master's student at the University of Illinois iSchool. Her interests include the study of information in historic and political-economic contexts, especially as they relate to the globalization of information and communication technologies. She is also interested in how we understand and facilitate connections between readers/writers and text/information in order to cultivate a love of reading and imaginative vigor among youth, particularly with the onset of the "digital revolution."

Shameem Rakha is a veteran, award-winning grade 6-8 teacher of 16 years. Presently, she is on leave from the public schools to pursue a PhD in Educational Policy Studies from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She is passionate about student learning and creating a more sustainable, equitable education for all students and has a particular interest in racial justice.

Ithamar Ritz is an Urbana, IL native. He studied philosophy as an undergraduate at the University of Illinois, and is now a Master's student at the University of Illinois Graduate School of Library and Information Science. His primary academic interests are Information Systems and Data Curation.

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