AFN Welcomes International Visitor


“I want to learn more about the people behind the data about digital inclusion. How is access and digital literacy helping people in the U.S.?”–Hiram Herrera

Photo of Professor Herrera and AFN team

Professor Herrera and his wife Patricia (center) with the AFN team.

Information Technology professor, Hiram Herrera from the Universidad Politécnica de Victoria, Mexico visited Austin Free-Net, February 13 – 16, 2017 to learn more about our nationally recognized digital literacy program.  Professor Herrera is writing a dissertation about the potential impact of digital inclusion on rural communities in Mexico.

A tenured professor, Hiram teaches network security, computer architecture and computer networks at the University which is five hours south of Brown, Texas.

Herrera contacted Austin Free-Net after doing extensive research online about digital inclusion programs in the U.S.  Juanita Budd, Executive Director of AFN extended an invitation to Herrera to come see our programs in action.  Professor Herrera and his wife arrived safely on Monday after driving several hours from Victoria.

“I think this is a great opportunity to share digital inclusion ideas internationally and learn from each other.  Professor Herrera comes to us with vast experience teaching technology skills in academia and we are excited to help him try to impact the lives of people in rural communities who don’t have access to technology or computer skills,” said Juanita.

Dr. Joe Straubhaar and Professor Herrera

During Herrera’s visit, he met with our Executive Director and the City of Austin’s Digital Inclusion team to learn more about the work being done to bridge the divide in Austin.  He also shadowed AFN trainers at many of our computer lab sites and met with clients. Over a traditional Texas barbecue lunch, Professor Herrera shared information about the need for basic digital literacy skills with Dr. Joe Straubhaar from The University of Texas at Austin.  An advocate of Austin Free-Net, Dr. Staubhaar  is known nationally for his extensive research on digital inclusion. During their conversation about Internet access in communities, Herrera noted that many of the elementary schools in Victoria, Mexico offer access in computer labs, after school hours.  The schools serve as community centers for small cities.  Although this is helpful for many families near urban areas, Professor Hererra would also like to see digital literacy training in rural communities. “Digital literacy training can boost the economy by empowering farmers and children in the areas,” said Herrerra.

Professor Herrera’s visit resulted in a great exchange of ideas about a subject that crosses international borders—digital inclusion.  We are looking forward to our continued relationship with the professor and the Universidad Politécnica de Victoria, Mexico.