The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation recently announced the winners of the 2011 Knight News Challenge. As Massachusetts residents, we are excited to see so much wealth invested locally: Knight has dropped over $1 million dollars on projects in Boston and Cambridge including Awesome Foundation, Public Laboratory, and Zeega.
A SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis corps member Ericha Hager conducted at each of the stations participating in the NorCal Regional Collaborative to identify the best points of collaboration within the group. Ericha conducted individual interviews with staff members at each station (and in some cases, group discussions) and compiled a SWOT analysis focusing on the four areas of emphasis within the collaborative (production; education/youth media; fundraising; technology).
Goal 1: Maintain, organize and upgrade computer center site
Goal 2: Provide opportunities for FOTS students to use the FOTS computer center to improve typing and word processing skills and to learn to use the Internet.
Goal 3: Implement an after-school computer literacy program
Goal 4: Train FOTS Teachers, Tutors and Parent To More effectively Use Educational Software to Enhance Student Academic Achievement
Goal 5: Train parents of FOTS students and other adult family members
Goal 6: Develop public and private sector resources that will enable the project to continue after the Members leave.
Goal 1: Community volunteers have taught the Americorps VISTA Volunteers enough basic computer maintenance and troubleshooting techniques to sustain the computer lab. A Technical Committee of five community volunteers was formed to help troubleshoot technical problems too large or difficult for the VISTA to fix.
Microsoft Access has been used to create databases to track software, hardware, community and technology contacts, and student, tutor, and parent contacts. Each database has easy-to-use interfaces to update information. Equipment evaluation sheets are cataloged for all incoming and outgoing donations.
A Web Committee was created to re-develop the FOTS website, and contains two volunteer web-professionals. The new website http://www.friendsoftylerschool.org was launched in September 2002. Easy to use templates were created so that future VISTAS and volunteers can easily update the web content and sustain the site.
Goal 2: Open Lab has fostered a lot of insightful learning due to the one-on-one attention students receive from the VISTA and volunteers. In addition to Open Lab, three computer courses have been successfully established. Nine students are currently enrolled in other after-school and evening computer classes. Curricular resources for the computer classes have been identified and cataloged in curriculum binders. Additional classes and projects are being developed for the spring and summer sessions.
Student files were created to track an initial general assessment to measure computer skills, keyboard efficiency, and technology interests. General program assessments occur quarterly.
Goal 3: The computer center has been operating on a five-day week schedule. Basic computer literacy skills are being addressed in current computer classes and Open Lab. Additional classes and projects are being developed by the VISTA in cooperation with community volunteers.
The summer program, Cool Camp, is currently being developed. Software, websites, and volunteer teachers are being identified.
Goal 4: A second lab has been established and maintained for tutors to use during tutoring and mentoring. A software database and computer procedures have been created and posted near computers. An introductory computer workshop was given to tutors, which covered the Digital Divide Initiative and computer center procedures.
In cooperation with Digital Sisters, seven parents attended a workshop on how to effectively use technology as an educational tool for young girls and teenagers. Shireen Mitchell, Director of Digital Sisters, presented this workshop.
Goal 5: Assessment of parents was done over the phone and included getting an idea of technology interests and availability. Based on initial conversation and meetings, a survey has been completed and will be distributed during future workshops.
Saturday Parent Workshops have been developed for selected weekends through April. Each workshop is built around a particular topic that can be covered during one workshop.
Goal 6: Sources have been identified and utilized for receiving equipment donations. A Verizon grant was awarded for the CTC.
Numerous computer programs, resources, and websites have been identified and catalogued in the computer office for future reference.
Many of the volunteers working with the FOTS Computer Center have been found through www.volunteermatch.org. For example, two volunteers were found for the Technical and Web Committee, and an additional volunteer was recruited as a lab helper.
Digital Sisters, a technology program that promotes technology among women and gender issues, has agreed to help FOTS conduct both parent and youth workshops. This partnership increases the capacity of FOTS by offering technology training that addresses relevant differences and opportunities between genders.
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