ellohay! West Michigan

What does ellohay! West Michigan do?

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Ellohay! West Michigan is built around three principle goals; Earn a Laptop, Technical Literacy, and Tech Support.

As participants make their way through the program, they will be provided a laptop donated to the organization by West Michigan businesses, loaded with Linux Ubuntu and other open-source software by volunteers.

In order to obtain ownership of the laptop, participants will participate in 8 hours of community service, as well as attend workshops to meet prearranged technical literacy benchmarks that they have created for themselves with an ellohay! Volunteer Counselor.

Eventually the hope is that the community service will continue beyond the program, and graduating individuals will share their new skills among homes and neighborhoods as a grass-roots line of tech support.

If you have a gently-used laptop to donate, please call (616) 446-3622, and we’ll pick it up. It will go to a good home and live a new life in West Michigan!

We also need sponsors for our upcoming pilot program with West Michigan Center for Arts and Technology (WMCAT) this Fall.

You, your group, or business can sponsor one student for three months for just $170. She’ll receive a laptop, hands-on workshops, a mentor, and technical support.

If you have questions, email me Marie-Claire at marie-claire (at) ellohay.org. Cheers!

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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.

Ask a question on LinkedIn and get genuine answers

Posted in feedback, support by forgr on August 9, 2008

I asked: What motivating factors would make a tech support person want to volunteer his services in his free time?

I got 16 answers, and they weren’t cheap, blow off answers either. I was genuinely surprised at the care and time each person took to write answers to this question. Check out the answers here.

Posting on Craig’s List

Posted in hardware resources, pilot, players by forgr on July 21, 2008

Wanted: Gently-used laptop computers (Grand Rapids)

http://grandrapids.craigslist.org/wan/764569789.html

The Grand Rapids Digital Inclusion Project is running a pilot program and we’re looking for gently-used laptop computers. Your contributions will be given to individuals in need, looking to learn computer skills, and improve their lives with technology.

We’re looking for gently-used modern laptop computers that are wireless capable, preferably with a wifi card included. Any parts that you have to offer would also be appreciated. Please email us with a description.

We will wipe your computer’s data clean, uninstall the operating system, and all applications (we will be running Ubuntu Linux and open-source software).

Since we aren’t a 501c3 organization (yet), your contribution will not be tax deductible, (but know that it is going directly to a person in need in your community).

For more information, visit https://forgr.wordpress.com.

Let’s see what happens…

A Conversation with Andy Wolber

Last week I had the pleasure of talking with Andy Wolber from NPower Michigan. Andy is the Executive Director of NPower Michigan. Their mission:

We provide technology services to nonprofits in Michigan, ensuring that all organizations have access to the best technology resources and know-how and can apply these tools to help create healthy, vibrant, thriving communities

We talked for about 45 minutes. High level notes:

• Team up with Macatawa Media Center in Holland, they have a earn-a-laptop program (CARE) and would definitely be a good source of information

• Check out One Economy (I did, very interesting indeed)

• Make the Community Media Center in Grand Rapids a fiduciary parent

• Take a cue from the United Way, they work with many non-profit organizations, they are a good model

• Call NuSoft Solutions, they should be interested in teaming up in some way

• Engage college students with the project

• Work with job skill training centers

He was a great source of knowledge, and has been a very generous individual. He’s also emailed be several reports, introduced me to Barb Pyle at Macatawa Media Center, and has been kind enough to allow me to write about him here in our blog.

Thank you for your contacts, advice and contributions Andy. I hope to talk to you again soon.

‘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?