CTC Implementation and Support

Durham Literacy Center Inc.
VISTA Name: 
Brian Russell
Program Start: 
Program End: 
Project Description: 

This has been an exciting year for our CTCNet VISTA here at the Durham Literacy Center. Previous VISTAs have laid the framework for the progress that Brian Russell, this year’s VISTA, has made to date. Overall, the VISTAs role is to (1) serve as technology integration specialist and oversee learning offerings, including: PC Basics, ABE, GED, ESOL, Family Literacy and Career Passport; (2) provide web page maintenance and enhancement; and (3) develop technology volunteer plan.

Project Outcome: 

The VISTA was responsible for maintaining and upgrading all of our agency’s computers and labs in addition to assisting in making agency-wide decisions as they pertained to technology. By recruiting and supporting technical volunteers, Brian effectively juggled all of his duties. Our VISTA provided excellent leadership as the co-chair of our ad-hoc tech committee and guided us through many important decisions regarding infrastructure, training and outreach. Please see the 04-05 VISTA’s web-blog for details of some of the projects he worked on: http://www.cpcs.umb.edu/vista/blog/brian_russell/. However, only a few of his accomplishments are listed on his web log - the rest are highlighted below.

The www.durhamliteracy.org Website
The VISTA provided superb research, advice, set-up, development and, ultimately, training to the full staff team on our new website. After research, the VISTA recommended that we use a program called Civicspace.org, freeware with customizable authoring privileges and a straightforward authoring interface. The new website has already attracted funders, individual donations, a multitude of volunteers and strengthened interaction with all of our stakeholders. Each staff member has a blog and the ability to update content. After the VISTA trained the staff on the basics of the webpage and setting policy, many staff have mastered the basics and have set up more features such as discussion forums for volunteers, calendaring and soon-to-be online forms.

IBM Grant Management
As a beta testing site during this past fiscal year, Durham Literacy Center (DLC) English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) introduced the “Reading Recognition” program to approximately 130 students. While there are still some rough spots in the early version of the application, many students indicated that “Reading Recognition” helped them improve their pronunciation, listening and reading.

The VISTA coordinated volunteers to install 3 new computer labs at DLC and its partner-sites. Work included installing software and setup on servers and clients, hardware setup. The VISTA was instrumental in training staff, partners and end users on using the new computer lab and software.

Agency Policy Development
The VISTA effectively researched and gained buy-in by staff and management on best practices for creating policies and procedures appropriate for a non-profit like the Durham Literacy Center. The VISTA identified sample policies from other non-profits and counseled the management on policies to adopt. These policies include, but are not limited to the following:
• Providing donations to partner agencies
• Laptop loans
• Use of the computer lab
• Website content and authoring

The Teen Career Academy
The Teen Career Academy and the Duke Research Service Learning Project – The VISTA created a mobile lab using donated laptops. The VISTA trained volunteers and teen students on how to use the GED interactive software program and others and tutored teens in the program.

Adult Literacy
The VISTA participated in our volunteer training on the intensive reading instruction method called the Wilson Method. From that point, Brian assisted in tutoring some adult literacy students and then led an in-service tutor training activity on the use of technology and in the initial pre-service tutor training session.

Impact Quote: 

The Durham Literacy Center is very appreciative of the assistance and contributions that the Digital Arts Service Corps has provided to our partners and us. Last year, 2004-2005, we were lucky to have a VISTA as knowledgeable and experienced as Brian Russell. The VISTA took our agency to a new level – our technical infrastructure, integrity and our presentation to the outside world via the webpage are all at the strongest point they have been in years.

Transmission Project