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Open Access Publications from the University of California


InterActions is an open access journal hosted by the eScholarship initiative of the California Digital Library, edited and managed by graduate students, based at the UCLA Graduate School of Education & Information Studies. Our publication’s authors foster an open and critical dialogue with readers and colleagues through applying diverse social justice frameworks to the discussion of pressing issues in the fields of education and information.

Editor's Note

Editors' Note

The Editors' Note for Spring Issue 10:2.


Green Machines and Constructionism: The Rhetoric and Reality of One Laptop Per Child in Sub-Saharan Africa

This article is an analysis and literature review of the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) program within the education sector, particularly the deployment of X-O laptops in the continent of Africa. While the project was created to address a specific issue - the digital divide - and undoubtedly had a significant impact in the field of technology, it has specific limitations: it reproduces a Western ideology of individualistic technology use and relies on a strict framework which fails to take local needs into consideration. Moreover, research on technology use in education, beyond X-O laptops, has focused mainly on developed countries. The article concludes that technology is not the panacea for education as envisioned by OLPC; moreover, its rigid mission goals and lack of independent studies ultimately hinder its aim of reducing the digital divide.

Rainbow Flags and Donor Tags: Queer Materials at the Pride Library

Located at Western University’s D.B. Weldon Library in London, Ontario, Canada, the Pride Library is a grassroots information organization serving the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer community (LGBTQ). While the Pride Library is currently housed at Western University and has received some financial support from the institution in the past, the Pride Library remains a primarily autonomous, community-run organization. This paper explores how the Pride Library’s mandate as a grassroots, LGBTQ information organization enables a unique approach to information materials object care and organization, acquisitions policies and donor relationships. Library and Information Science (LIS) literature addresses the information seeking activities of LGBTQ-identified individuals and their needs within mainstream libraries as opposed to considering LGBTQ information activities undertaken in grassroots autonomous settings. Queer theory’s continuing interest in archives provides a framework for understanding LGBTQ information activities within grassroots organizational settings, however, the Pride Library case study provides an opportunity to include distinctly library-based activities within these frameworks. In order to articulate the queer information activities at the Pride Library the author conducted an ethnography from January to April 2011. The findings reveal that the Pride Library not only treats its materials as informational containers, but also as aesthetic, symbolic and affective artifacts.

“I don’t think the university knows me.”: Institutional culture and lower-income, first-generation college students.

Recognizing the complex and diverse factors impacting first-generation and lower-income college student outcomes, this study seeks to explore the under-examined role of institutional culture on the experiences of these students. Using data gathered from interviews with 6 lower-income, first-generation college students participating in a TRIO Student Support Program at a large, public 4-year institution, we examine how institutional culture shapes student sense of self at the university. Results indicate that institutional culture manifests in two main ways: 1) through administrative and faculty perceptions and interactions, and 2) through peer perceptions of and interactions with social class. The results of this exploration highlight the complexity of the lower-income, first-generation college student experience and point to an opportunity to shift the discussion of these populations away from the use of a deficit language that focuses on the shortcomings of the student, and moves toward an acknowledgment of the role of the institution in the barriers that students face.

The Continuing Relevance of Paul Otlet, the International Institute of Bibliography/International Federation for Documentation, and the Documentation Movement for Information Science and Studies

This article discusses the historical legacy and present-day impact of Paul Otlet and Henri La Fontaine, two of the earliest pioneers of the documentation movement, and the organization they founded in 1895, known originally as the International Institute for Bibliography (IIB), later as the International Federation for Documentation (FID). Otlet, La Fontaine, and the FID are remembered for their bold, positivist vision of creating a complete, accurate, objective master database of all human knowledge in the pre-computer era—a vision partially expressed in the Mundaneum, a massive collection of hard-copy data assembled in their home country of Belgium in the early twentieth century. Predictably, this ambitious project failed.

Yet, as this paper explains, Otlet, La Fontaine, and their organization nevertheless had a lasting and significant impact on the evolution of modern information science, identifying both goals and problems for later information theorists that remain relevant even in the digital age. Their prewar documentalist movement, inquiring into the fundamental nature of documents and of information, paved the way for the work of postwar documentalists including Suzanne Briet and S. R. Rangathan, among others; in turn, the work of the postwar documentalists overlaps with and impacted the rise of computer-based information theory and science and the dawn of the digital age from the 1950s onward. The FID itself persisted as an active organization into the 1990s, convening conferences, publishing books, and generally promoting international bibliographic research and standardization as well as international scholarly cooperation—which relates to the wider legacy of Otlet and La Fontaine as early pioneers of international peace, trans-national institutional cooperation, and global pooling of information to confront human problems. Their activities were direct precursors of, for instance, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

Even as to their positivist presumptions which ultimately led to failure, the example of Otlet and La Fontaine remain relevant—for humans generally, and scientists, social scientists, and other professionals in particular, remain all too prone to positivistic fallacies of perfect and objective knowledge, notwithstanding the warnings against such presumptions from postmodernism.

Teachers’ Reflections on Critical Pedagogy in the Classroom

This article presents the results from a qualitative research study that explores the experiences of nine high school teachers with some of the common themes in critical pedagogy. The study considers teachers who may not have explicitly learned about or applied critical pedagogy in their teaching and investigates how feasible and desirable they find the common themes in critical pedagogy to be based on their teaching experiences. These teachers work in a school with a largely upper-middle class student body, so the issue of applying critical pedagogy with affluent students adds a dimension of interest to this study.

Through the interviews, three themes emerge most strongly: power/authority among students and teachers, the political nature of education, and teaching about social issues in the classroom. Teachers reveal an unwillingness to share authority with students or make space for students to be experts in the classroom in a meaningful way. Some teachers are also opposed to leading the transformation from the status quo toward a more just society. Teachers demonstrate a desire to encourage students to improve society, but they believe the best way to achieve this is by teaching critical thinking skills and discussing social issues, allowing students to develop their own vision for an improved society.

Most teachers reveal they do not think about how the classroom reproduces the power structure in society by reaffirming a certain set of beliefs and reinforcing the power of privileged students. Some teachers note that their students had not yet had a political awakening. The same might be said of the teachers who had not been exposed to many of the ideas in critical pedagogy. A certain level of comfort eliminates the spark that pushes one to seek social change – among both students and teachers. But a critical education must take place among both the oppressed and the oppressor if we hope to achieve a more compassionate and just society.


Ethnic Microaggressions: The Experiences of Zainichi Korean Students in Japan

Critical race theory (CRT) and the framework of microaggressions has been used to analyze concepts such as majority power, discrimination, and the marginalization of minority groups. This study focuses on the application of CRT and microaggressions analysis to examine issues of ethnic discrimination in contemporary Japan. Within Japanese society and its ethnic hierarchy the minority group known as “Zainichi” Koreans are struggling with prejudice and challenging their status as a marginalized group. Even the Japanese term Zainichi, meaning “living in Japan,” reflects their separation from mainstream Japanese society. Koreans are the largest ethnic minority in contemporary Japan as a direct result of Japan’s colonization of Korean Peninsula from 1910-1945. Japan tends to be perceived as homogenous country; however looking deeper, a diverse ethnic presence can be seen. There is a strong ethnic hierarchy in Japan and constant underlying ethnic discrimination that targets minority groups. What issues do ethnic minorities face living in Japan, and why? This paper illuminates the Zainichi Korean struggle, how ethnic microagressions occur within Japanese society, and how CRT can be effectively applied to this case and potentially, other circumstances of discrimination based on ethnic difference.

Book Reviews

Book Review: Feminist and Queer Information Studies Reader Edited by Patrick Keilty and Rebecca Dean

Book Review of Feminist and Queer Information Studies Reader Edited by Patrick Keilty and Rebecca Dean

Book Review: Oral History and Communities of Color

Brief summary and review of Oral Histories and Communities of Color by Teresa Barnett and Chon Noriega.

Book Review: Academic Profiling: Latinos, Asian Americans, and the Achievement Gap

Addressing the “achievement gap” in academic performance has become prominent in educational reform efforts.   However, too often, outcomes gathered from accountability measures are used to create hierarchies between students’ performance based on gender and race/ethnicity.  In Academic Profiling: Latinos, Asian American, and the Achievement Gap, Gilda L. Ochoa examines how a focus on the “achievement gap,” which she argues gives the “illusion” that inequality is being addressed by shifting the focus to high-stakes testing, hinders both Latina/o and Asian American students by ignoring structural and systemic injustices that “perpetuate hierarchical and binary thinking.”