ellohay! West Michigan

UK study says digital inclusion makes people more confident

Posted in data, education, good news, membership benefits, research by forgr on October 10, 2008

Google Reader brought great news to me this morning in the form of an article from 24dash.com titled “New research links digital inclusion and social impact”. Yes, you read it correctly. An excerpt,

More than 12,000 people took part in the social impact demonstrator projects between January 2007 and March 2008. By the end of the project, participants were more likely to feel confident, and 40% had progressed into further training, employment, information, advice and guidance.

Working with the computers helped to improve people’s maths and English, and they were more likely to spend time with friends and family, and more likely to connect with and help out in their communities.

Published by Hannah Wooderson for 24dash.com in Communities, Wednesday 8th October 2008 – 3:38pm.

So in other words, this is really good news. It proves what I’ve been (just) insisting over the last 10 months. And yes, it’s just the beginning, I’m sure there will be ongoing studies to discover the long term impact, and more studies that out-right contradict it. However this is one more juicy juicy morsel that will help convince future partners, collaborators and potential funders that what we’re doing is good for our community.

Keep it coming, we need all the proof we can get.

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Mission and programs, draft

Alright. I’m going to throw this out there onto the interwebs. It’s the newest mission statement along with some of the latest program ideas. I haven’t been sitting on it for long. I’m trying to get some feedback and perhaps fail fast instead of a long, slow death.

Please note, I’m using the placeholder name, “The Tomorrow Project”, it’s not a serious name or anything, just a placeholder until we can come up with something really good.

Here goes nothin’:

The Tomorrow Project utilizes existing resources in the community to provide opportunities for individuals and communities through individualized and focused interactions with technology.

Some of our programs include:

Tomorrow Box
Earn-a-laptop program, 10 hours of community service gets you a laptop computer, orientation classes and general education

Student Tomorrow Box
Earn-a-laptop program, collective of 50 hours of community service from your class at your school or in your community, gets you, your classmates and your teacher, laptop computers, training, education, and tech support

Tomorrow Box Tech Support
10 hours of community service gets you and your Tomorrow Box life-time tech support from a certified Geek Next Door

Tech Support Mentoring
Hands-on mentoring program that matches technology professionals and underserved individuals to teach, understand, and implement basic tech support skills

Geek Next Door Training and Certification
Tech support training for young volunteers and students of the geeky persuasion. Graduates get their own laptop, office hours, a tech manual, business cards, and the opportunity to engage in one-on-one tech support with people in the community

Tech Education
100-Level classes, centralizing and providing a schedule for free introductory classes and workshops from existing community resources.

Thoughts?

Client personas and potential use cases, part two

Photo from flickr-user mstor, for use under creative commons license

Remember Kim? 35, single mother of two, works five days a week as a physical therapist’s assistant from 8 am until 2, English is her second language.

So the question was, ‘What will she do when she gets her new laptop home?’

Kim gets her laptop home and plugs in the power cord (the battery is running low). She feeds the kids dinner, puts in their favorite movie, and sits down on the couch. She picks up her computer, opens the top, and sets in on her lap. She’s never had her own laptop before so she gets a nervous flutter in her stomach when the screen lights up.

The first thing she notices is an alert that there is an open wireless network available, she clicks “OK” and sees that the signal is strong. She then clicks on the internet browser icon in the dock at the bottom of the screen.

When the screen loads, she sees the program page that reads “Welcome to the neighborhood Kim. The Digital Inclusion in Grand Rapids, MI project is happy to see you here again.” She smiles and clicks on the email icon on the page. She’s curious if she has any new mail from her class instructor. She has two new messages, one from her instructor, and another from the program director. She reads both and replies to the one from her instructor, she thanks him for answering her questions in the orientation class earlier that day.

When she goes back to her home page, and project welcome page, she sees that there is an event calendar on the page. It has the class schedules, community events, and hours of the workshop on it. She takes a look at what’s happening next weekend.

Her kids need to get to bed, so she closes her laptop and heads up to get them ready. After they fall asleep, she heads back downstairs to wash the dishes, puts in a load of laundry and turns the tv on. The entire time she’s going thinking about her new laptop, glancing at it when she walks back and forth bringing bowls and glasses from the living room into the kitchen. It’s still slightly foreign to her.

She sits back down again to rest and watch the weather report on tv for tomorrow, she opens up the computer again and looks at the event calendar a little more. She’s more nervous that she thought she would ever be about a piece of technology. She closes the lid and sits back on the couch. Before she goes to bed, she puts the computer on the kitchen table with the folder from the workshop next to it, she’ll read and explore more tomorrow when the kids are at the neighbor’s house.

It’s Sunday afternoon the next time she’s able to get back to her computer again. The signal is strong, the program’s page is welcoming, she has no new emails. She clicks on the icon that reads “Community Resources” as she’s curious about what’s there. There are sections of links divided into different categories, and she looks at all of them. She clicks on local weather and news. The website loads and shows her that it will be raining tomorrow afternoon, she smiles knowing that that sort of information is available whenever she wants it, not just at 10:00 or 11:00 at night when the local station reports it.

She reads more resource links and ends up sitting on the computer for almost three hours. She stretches and rubs her eyes, realizing that she’s spent that much time looking at the screen. She feels more comfortable with her computer though now, and is glad that she’s in the program.

Monday work then a school play, Tuesday work and then her youngest with a high fever. Wednesday she finally gets back to her exploration. She finds YouTube, and Flickr. She sees a website advertised on tv, and for fun, goes there to see what it offers. She experiemetnsregisters for a digital scrapbook class at the workshop. She’s feeling even more confident now.

Pilot program initial planning (stages, players, events)

So among other things, there’s quite a bit to think about for a pilot program… And yes, we’re planning on a pilot program. Talking with John Helmholdt from the public school district was inspiring. And even if that connection ends up not panning out, there a many other groups that I’m sure would be receptive to the idea. With that in mind, I write this,

Some initial thoughts on serving a small group of individuals for pilot program,

1. Prep 2. Give 3. Support

Within these stages are potentially 8 or 9 groups that we would need to bring together for this program.
• Geeks (for computer gleaning, clean up, open source os installation etc. at the geek-a-thon)
• Audience/clients (who will receive the laptops, get support, orientation, education)
• Forgr staff (will organize, manage and execute the program pieces and parts, provide orientation to all)
• Educators or existing community education organizations (teachers, professors, instructors that will teach introductory level skills to audience in a group setting and/or one-on-one)
• Tech support staff (will be available for audience to trouble shoot any extreme cases)
• Audience administration (school board, program executive directors etc. that will need to determine goals and parameters, and then accept responsibility’s for supporting program within their institution)
• Facilities (venue for geek-a-thon event, temporary education and support workshop locations)
• Piggy-back organization (existing nonprofit organization that will host our initiative, allow donors to give their laptops and equipment with a tax deductible status)
• Potentially parents and teachers of audience/clients if it’s a classroom environment (these would be extended support system and will need to understand the program’s ins and outs as much as possible)

So, with that in mind, here’s a shot at planning for the first stage of the pilot program:

1. Prep

1a.) Establish a planning committee, meet and come up with plan of action for organizing three part program pieces and parts, who what when where why how. Discuss goals, determine how event might be sponsored, how to recruit volunteers etc. Set our success model for the program.

1b.) Secure a venue for geek-a-thon portion, secure a piggy-back organization, determine rough time-line, secure deductible donation status for donors/geeks, discuss process for client group, secure sponsor.

1c.) Prepare to meet with client group leader, write up targeted business plan and executive statement for client group and/or piggy-back organization.

1d.) Meet with client group leader or board, determine hopes, goals for their group, their anticipated trouble spots, stumbling blocks, determine best course of action to proceed, set rough time line for events.

1e.) Submit any agreement documents with group (if necessary), start building community of educators or participating education facilities for education and support base for client group, discuss plan of action for geek-a-thon event.

1f.) Create program around geek-a-thon. Explore ways spread the word about the geek-a-thon, explore call to action for geeks to glean computers, event details, computer tagging strategy. Collect list of participating educators or community education partners. Finalize time line for all events and launch.

1g.) Check in on sponsor, venue, status, dates, client agreement, piggyback organization, donor. Firm up time line and event schedule for geek-a-thon with all pieces and parts, collect email addresses for all educators, geeks, and volunteers. Draft literature for all groups, client instructions, support materials, feedback forms etc.

1h.) Arrange for entertainment, food, music, tables etc. for geek-a-thon. Design email invitations, posters, signs for geek-a-thon. Make sure everything is covered, on track with all groups. Find facilitator volunteers for geek-a-thon.

1i) Send out invitations to geek-a-thon, write press release for event and contact media for event coverage. Finalize all materials for literature for all audiences.

1j) Collect RSVPs from geeks, collect feedback on idea from geeks. Meet with audience administration (weekly?) and hold pre-orientation/round table with administration, (potentially teachers, parents) on upcoming event and program ins and outs.

1k.) Venue prep for geek-a-thon event day or two ahead. Set up, event dry run with committee, hold volunteer orientation, have FAQ sheet available for volunteers. Tie up loose ends before event. Send out press releases, check back in with press to make sure they are attending (if we want them).

1l.) Hold Geek-a-thon event. Hand out kits to geeks. Get volunteers in place. Answer questions, address immediate needs. Announcements. Register laptops and run through clean up, diagnostics, set up checklists. Determine what parts are missing, needs to bring all machines up to standards. During event solicit feedback, have temporary workshop volunteer sign up sheet/email list and sign up for continuing involvement in program. Enjoy ourselves and do something good together. Collect finished machines. Thank everyone for coming and explain next steps. Collect possible donations.

1m.) Send out thank yous and confirmation to geeks and volunteers from geek-a-thon event. Prep temporary workshop space, get wireless networks set up. Tools, parts, and/or the means to gain. Set up volunteer schedule, hotline for clients, tracking system for incoming machines maintenance. Confirm introductory level education schedule. Tie up any loose ends with groups.

2. Give

2150306305_4ec432b4c8.jpg

Photo from flickr-user elemenous for use under creative common license
2a.) If necessary, hold orientation for potential teachers, parents, administrators. Explain their roles, and provide support for them as extended support team. Collect phone numbers, names addresses of their children/our clients.

2b.) Hold client orientation. Introduce program origins, cover who what when why wheres, address, explain all questions. Tell them how it will work. Have all parties sign ‘promise’ agreement and ‘care and keeping of your new computer’ sheet.

2c.) Bring clients their laptops, literature, FAQs, how tos, what ifs, explain hotline. Hold first education session, set up email accounts, provide educational outlets outside program too. Explain feedback plan. Fill sign up sheet for future classes, sessions. Collect email addresses from all clients. Collect donations?

2d.) Let them take them home, and make sure they stay connected to the program by providing feedback.

3. Support

536550986_d6704b735a.jpg

Photo from flickr-user mugley for use under creative common license

3a.) Collect feedback, hold classes, collect donations, fix broken machines, address problems. Change, adapt, support, grow, learn.

3b.) Host lessons-learned session for geek-a-thon, hardware status, determine if program is on track

3c.) Collect and synthesize incoming feedback. Solicit feedback from parents, teachers. Update program if necessary.

3d.) Hold lessons-learned for orientations, education sessions, workshops, volunteers, facility, hotline, etc.

3e.) Scout for permanent workshop location if necessary, build client database, build website, find more volunteers, find donors, send out regular newsletters. Build, grow, learn, adapt, assist, have energy.

3f.) Reach pilot program success, continue to support clients through their growth and ours.

Phew, so what do we think here, too optimistic, would something like this work? We really want to know, what’s missing?Why do we need your help? Because I’m sitting on my couch, at home, in my pajamas with my headphones in and it’s impossible to coordinate something like this a bubble.

If you’re interesting in jumping in, joining us, and joining the pilot planning and execution committee, email me, or call me at (616) 446-3622, (mobile phone number).

If you’re thinking about helping in other ways, we’d love you for that too. Call, email, drive over to my house, send me a letter. Make contact. We want you.

Other related notes:

Determine next steps after pilot

Meet with committee weekly on progress

Have plan for addressing negative feedback at all stages of the game

Have google group for planning committee to post happenings

Have audience discussion group online, get ichat accounts, meet regularly for required education

Provide laptop to teachers?

Hold Fund-raising events simultaneously

Client personas and potential use cases, thoughts

Client scenario 1 (a wordy part one):

481989262_9607070a12_m.jpg

Photo from flickr-user mstor, for use under creative commons license

Kim, 35, single mother of two, works five days a week as a physical therapist’s assistant from 8 am until 2, English is her second language. She has one 5 year old child in school from 7:30 a.m. to 2:15 p.m., one 3 year old in daycare (at the same time) five days a week.

She wants to advance in her job and become a full physical therapist. If she makes the wage of a physical therapist she will be able to put her youngest in a better day care, afford an apartment in a better neighborhood, and a more reliable car.

She walks inside the daycare center with her oldest child to pick up her youngest and sees a flier on the community board in the lobby that says “Grand Rapids Laptop Program, earn a free computer, learn new skills, connect” there’s a phone number to call to find out more information. She grabs one of the tabs from the flier and puts it in her wallet, she grabs her kids and heads home.

The next day on her lunch break, she pulls out the tab from the flier to ask a co-worker if she knows anything about the program. Her co-worker hasn’t heard anything, but she decides to call anyway to see if it’s legitimate or a scam. After talking to the receptionist, she decides to make an appointment to get a tour and talk with a membership volunteer that Friday after she picks the kids up.

Friday afternoon, she drives with the kids to the workshop, parks the car in the parking ramp (one free hour is promised on the sign) and walks with them into the storefront. She gets an introduction to the program in her native language, and a tour of the space. She is impressed with the people and the environment. She can tell by the attitudes of the people that this is a unique project and is really empowering.

She sees that there are group classes with instructors that speak her language, and one on one sessions with mentors too. She’s happy that there are classes to learn more about technology. She’s used the computers to get onto the internet, type up papers, and create her resumé at the library, but other than that she’s not very familiar with any other programs. She’s never been able to afford her own computer, and knows that learning new skills and having access to the internet could help her move towards getting more training to advance in her job.

The application takes about 20 minutes, she learns that everything in the workshop is free. The volunteer asks her what she plans on doing with the computer. Her two kids are entertained with a basket full of toys, the volunteer tells her that they are welcome to stay as long as they want.

She learns that after 5 hours of volunteer time, and one orientation class, she can get her own, free laptop. She gets a folder with more information, a map of free wifi hotspots, a form to apply for the discounted municipal wiMax access, a sheet with other people’s experiences with the project, a list of volunteer positions to review and select, the operating hours of workshop, alternate education locations, and some more information about the history of the program. Before she leaves they take her picture, print it out, paste it on to a yellow card, laminate it, and put into a lanyard for her. She gets a free t-shirt to wear when she comes in to volunteer. The whole process takes about 45 minutes.

She’s able to complete her volunteer hours in just two Saturdays while her kids are at her sister’s house.

Both times that she comes into the workshop to volunteer, she checks in at the front desk by scanning her yellow photo id and meets with the head volunteer. Her tasks include photocopying forms, putting kits together for future applicants, and shadowing another volunteer while he explains the program to two new applicants. She meets several other volunteers, applicants, and staff members. They are people that live in her neighborhood, she even recognizes a few others as parents from her son’s school too.

She follows her new member checklist from her membership folder, and halfway through her volunteer time, she signs up for her required orientation class, in her native language, on a Saturday that works into her schedule. Each time she leaves, she checks out at the front desk and writes down when she’s planning on coming in next. She also gets her parking card validated, making her parking free for the duration.

She attends the one hour orientation class with a group of other applicants from the neighborhood. The instructor introduces himself and welcomes everyone to the program, he asks everyone in the group to introduce themselves.

Everyone goes around the room, there are 9 others that each say their name and why they came to the workshop, and how they heard about it. The instructor thanks everyone for their participation and then begins to talk about the mission of the program, the people, and the organizations and volunteers that help it function everyday.

He passes out lists of free introductory level computer and internet classes and asks everyone to think about which ones they are interested in taking. The classes are located both at the workshop and in schools and community venues in areas near her house. There are even places within walking distance of her home, and in her native language. She circles three that she finds interesting.

He asks that if they are interested in taking any of these classes soon, that they should sign up at the front desk as soon as they can.

Then he talks about their computers and next steps. He explains that on the day they finish their last volunteer time, that they should plan to stay one hour later to receive their computer, get an introduction to their new system, sign up for classes and get their new ID cards. People in the orientation class ask some questions, “Is the computer ours? Do we really own it?” and and “What if we don’t know anything about computers?” and “Do we have to take classes?” and “What if the computer breaks or gets stolen?”… The teacher answers each one, and talks to the whole group about each answer.

Q: “Is the computer ours? Do we really own it?”
Yes, you own it. That means that you are responsible for it’s care, it’s safe-keeping, and its safe return when you’re ready to upgrade to a different machine. It’s yours. On that day you’ll be asked to sign an agreement that basically says that you agree to use the machine for constructive purposes and practice appropriate behavior.

Q: “What if we don’t know anything about computers?”
You’re among friends. Most of the individuals that come through our doors are just like yourself. Some people have never even touched a computer before, don’t know what the Internet does, or why a computer might be a valuable tool for them. We have group classes available, and one on one classes too. We’ll go as slow or as fast as you need us too, and you can take as long as you want to explore your new machine. We’re here to help you, we’ll try as hard as we can to be there for you every step of the way.

Q: “Do we have to take classes?”
It’s not required, but recommended. If you feel like you know everything about computers and the internet, then don’t worry, but if you think that you might want to learn something new, take a look at the class offering, there are high level classes as well.

Q: “What if the computer breaks, gets lost or gets stolen?”
If the computer breaks, we have a network of support technicians available to help repair the hardware or reinstall programs. If it gets lost, it’s up to you to replace it. If it gets stolen, bring in your police report and we’ll discussion options for a earning a new computer. We keep a log here at the center of every program, component, and visit to our shop, that way we can make sure that each machine is running properly and is being taken care of.

Kim goes home and after dinner she looks at her new class schedule and finds one more class that she thinks she wants to take. She has four total circled, Word Processing tips a tricks (a 101 level class), Social networks (a 100 level class), Email (a 100 level class), and Database tips and tricks (a 101 level class). She calls the registration phone number and secures a spot in all of the classes.

Her final Saturday arrives and she drops off the kids at her sister’s for the afternoon. She drives to the workshop to finish up her final hours volunteering. She makes copies and helps two other volunteers put up workshop posters in a few coffee shops nearby. As she heads back to the workshop, people ask her about the program, and she gives them a postcard from the workshop and tells them to stop in anytime. She gets back to the workshop and signs out as a volunteer and tells the head volunteer that she’s completed her time. He smiles, signs her sheet, and says to wait at the blue table for him, while he goes upstairs to get her machine. When he comes back down, he’s carrying a laptop bag, a new white id card, and a folder.

To be continued. So… once she gets her laptop, what will she do?