ellohay! West Michigan

ellohay! West Michigan featured on Rapid Growth

Posted in Uncategorized by forgr on May 20, 2009

ellohay! West Michigan featured here on Rapid Growth!

The article Closing the Digital Divide written by Keith Essenburg, photos by Brian Kelly.

RG-Ellohay-4_480

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Connecting Grand Rapids, the WiMax saga continues

Posted in Uncategorized by forgr on December 8, 2008

Wireless broadband company hired by Grand Rapids battles merger, lawsuit.

“When Clearwire turns on its network, it is expected to offer high-speed mobile Internet access throughout the city’s 45-square-mile limits.

The city’s contract with Clearwire calls for it to provide high-speed mobile connectivity to police, fire and city operations. But it also is expected to offer high-speed services to local residents.

Clearwire has not posted consumer prices, but plans are to offer a variety of competitively priced services. Discounted service of $9.95 per month will be offered for up to 5 percent of the city’s low-income residents.” Read the entire article on mlive.com

Calculators

Posted in education, programs, Uncategorized by forgr on May 12, 2008

Out of curiosity, I recently attended a Grand Rapids School Board Meeting. I came in a little late, so I sat in the back.

I listened to each item on the agenda, watched while the group took a time to acknowledge Cinco de Mayo, and enjoyed hearing from several community members express their views on various items of concern.

I noticed a specific focus on tools and preparation for MEAP, SATs and ACTs from more than a few board members. Getting good scores on state and national tests are obviously a concern for this group, and in many cases, they are a major concern. Good score on MEAP determine a lot of things for a school and a school district e.g. total school scores, additional funding, overall school bill of health.

Students are allowed to use calculators on all three of these tests (MEAP, SATs and ACTs), they are encouraged to use them in fact. Scores are consistently higher when students use calculators. But in many cases, students can’t afford to buy calculators to use on these tests.

Scientific calculators currently run anywhere between $50-$100 depending on the features, but most households in Grand Rapids, MI can’t afford an extra cost like that. Many households are struggling to pay bills and get their children fed, clothed and off to school each morning.

There was one school board member that made the plea to individuals watching that evening to consider purchasing a calculator for $50 and donating it to the school district. She mentioned that she was potentially going to start a calculator drive herself.

I don’t have statistics to determine how many students are without calculators, but the fact that it was brought up during a school board meeting, means it’s a bit of a problem. Our students are under-served and cannot compete without the correct tools.

So, hey, calculators are helpful technological devices, who’s to say that earning-a-calculator isn’t a pretty good program to include in our future organization?

2 hours of community service = a new scientific calculator

What do we think? Cool, weird, good?

‘Laptops for Sixth Graders?’

This is a great article to come across while surfing… I’m actually glad that it was written. I need to hear this kind of stuff.

Take a minute to read an excerpt from this article written back in 2004 titled ‘Laptops for Sixth Graders?’ about a grant offered through Michigan’s Freedom to Learn initiative (FTL), which allocates $68 million for school districts to lease laptops to kids for up to four years:

Placing computers in classrooms is, of course, only the latest educational fad, designed to divert our attention from the real issue, which is what our children actually know once they leave school. Sure, technology is important and students will have to be able to work with computers to be successful in the workforces of today and tomorrow.

But computer skills can be learned without handing out personal computers. They are skills a good percentage of children already know and use on home computers by the time they are in the sixth grade. Bringing any child up to speed who has no computer at home should be a matter of selective targeting, maybe even by giving out a small number of personal computers.

But this should never be confused with measures aimed at improving student academic achievement, particularly when studies have failed to reveal any such relationship. This appears to be another program where money is being spent, simply “because we can.”

Read the entire article posted here on Apr. 6, 2004 by Jeff Steinport

Jeff Steinport is a computer network administrator for Advantage Sales & Marketing of Walker, Mich. and treasurer for the Grand Rapids Board of Education. Jeff is also a member of the Grand Rapids Downtown Development Authority board.


Alright, so the challenge is to do what? Make sure that when we design this project, that it’s genuinely good, advantageous to be involved with, different. It shouldn’t stink up the place with poor planning, ill informed recommendations, or inappropriate goals.

The frustration is palpable in this article. It would be a terrible thing to evoke similar sentiments in our future clients.

I’m going to speculate (this is only a guess) of the potential downfalls of this program at this time:

• Potentially, the computers were leased, not donated
• Potentially, there was no curriculum in place to integrate the computer as an effective tool
• Potentially, there was no infrastructure for tech support
• Potentially, the training sessions for teachers, students, parents were not in depth enough, or of limited use
• Potentially, there were no clear goals for the introduction of these tools into this environment
• Potentially, students weren’t using them appropriately
• Potentially, they were intrusive in the classroom

If we’re going to do this right, we need to do some serious homework. We need to know needs, desires, concerns from all parties involved. Our goal should be to make this program as seamless as possible, useful, accessible, sustainable, measurable.

Here’s another article titled “Giving Laptops to Sixth Graders Won’t Improve Their Education

Here’s an article discussing why the “State laptop program [was] erased

And last, but not least, the infamous Freedom to Learn website

What other kinds of things would make a program like ours go sour? What could we go so wrong in our plan so far, that would make you as a potential client feel as frustrated as Jeff was?

A few next steps, growth

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

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

1.) Finalize project name

2.) Get feedback on mission statement, problem statements, finalize mission statement

3.) Post draft of Executive Statement, get feedback

4.) Write out plans for involvement with community partners

5.) Finalize and Print out finished Executive Statement, supporting diagrams and materials

6.) Start writing grants

7.) Schedule time to meet with Comprenew to discuss pilot program

8.) Schedule time to meet with WMCAT to discuss pilot program

9.) Schedule time to meet with Community Media Center to discuss pilot program

10.) Schedule time to meet with Grand Rapids Public School representatives to discuss pilot program

11.) Schedule time to meet with other important community partners

12.) Write memorandums of understanding for potential partnerships

13.) Breathe.

14.) Determine next steps again

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?