iSchool  at Drexel Researchers Receive Grants from Nokia for Smart Phone Research


Philadelphia  (September 16, 2010) – These days, the information people seek is right at their fingertips, literally, through Smart Phone technology. E-mails, Internet searches, social networking and beyond are all accessible at the click of a button, available just about any time, anywhere. At The iSchool at Drexel, College of Information Sciences and Technology, researchers are investigating how Smart Phones directly impact people’s lives through two very different studies, funded by the Nokia Research Center.


Michelle Rogers, Ph.D., and Jennifer Rode, Ph.D., each received $11,600 in grant monies plus equipment through Nokia’s U.S. University Collaboration funding program to conduct Smart Phone research. Drexel University is the only institution where two researchers received grant funding from Nokia for different projects.


Dr. Rogers’ project, Tracking Observations of Everyday Living with Smart Phones, explores how Smart Phones can be used to better manage chronic illnesses. Working with the 11th Street Family Health Services Clinic, a nurse-managed health center operated by the Drexel University College of Nursing and Health Professions, Dr. Rogers is developing cell phone-based systems that will help health providers engage patients in their own care, testing technological support systems that make patients better aware of their health choices and behaviors between clinic visits.


“Smart Phone technology research is important because these phones have served as a bridge over the ‘digital divide’ – the inequality of access to information technology that developed because of economic, social and cultural factors,” said Dr. Rogers. “So while people may not have a home computer, they are now able to access internet resources – just on a mobile device.  It is important to understand what real-time access allows us to do differently or uniquely”.”


Dr. Rode’s project, Mobile Phone Use in Urban Islamic Communities addresses the unique communications challenges of a transnational Arab community. Dr. Rode’s study will specifically look at Arab couples in long-distance relationships, with one partner based in the U.S., and one overseas, and how they use Smart Phone applications to overcome distance. One of the challenges faced by Arab Americans who are using primarily Western software is that applications are not designed to accommodate Arab cultural practice, in addition to infrastructure barriers in the Arab world. Dr. Rode’s prior research with MSc student Tamara Alsheikh at University College London has shown that technology and society are influencing communication practices in this culture, with past research focusing on computers rather than cell phones. This project will explore long distance relationships within this community, and how Smart Phone technology can help improve the quality of these relationships.


Said Dr. Rode of her research: "I am excited for this opportunity to continue exploring gender and technology, and to move away from a Western context.  Studying the Arab world will not only allow us to develop better technologies for Arabs, but it will allow for de-familiarization that will allow us to better understand the West.  Further it gives me a chance to explore gender roles through technology use in light of Islamic Feminism. Doing so ideally will promote cross-cultural understanding which is critical at this time."



Founded in 1892, The iSchool at Drexel educates students in information science and technology at the bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral levels and features Drexel University’s Cooperative Education program. The College’s mission is to unite technology, people, and information to make a fundamental difference in tomorrow’s knowledge society. The iSchool at Drexel is a founding member of the iSchools Caucus of more than 25 prominent colleges dedicated to immersing students in the iField — connecting people, information and technology. For more information visit or call 215.895.1952.