Open Spaces CTC
The Open Spaces Technology Center (OSTC) is a community technology center which provides several key services in the Ellensburg area. It provides computer infrastructure for Worksource, which is a computer and technical training center for displaced workers in the Ellensburg area. OSTC will team with the Ellensburg Parks and Recreation Department to make computer technology available to the entire community. OSTC will also fund a Mobile Technology Center, which will further increase access to technology and training in rural Kittitas County.
The first half of Ethan’s term was spent generating community interest in learning technology and helping community members develop the confidence to learn more. The second half of the term was focused on expanding that interest to self-study and home use, and to continue the access to learning. During the course of the year, over 130 users were involved in introductory computer classes, logging roughly 1400 user hours. Among other things, these classes built community capacity, a cadre of volunteers, and led Big Bend Community College (BBCC) to develop partnerships and open new computer labs in Mattawa and Royal City.
Ethan visited a CTC nearby in Kennewick that worked on getting refurbished computers into the homes. They taught him that labs were not enough to get sufficient technology access to our students on a more consistent basis and that real progress for most students was dependent on there being computers in the home. The RECA Foundation in Kennewick became our resource for refurbished computers. Ethan was able to get computers into many of the students’ homes in Royal City and Mattawa. The computers are geared more towards families and give kids a basis for learning. They have security in place to prevent major problems from occurring to the operating system. The major drawback with these computers is that they do not allow changes to the system and are not configured for use of the Internet. However, as a beginning computer for families, they are perfect because they aren’t susceptible to viruses; as students become more comfortable with the computers, they can later invest in one that is Internet-ready. In the meantime, Internet access and ESL software remains available in the community labs.
Ethan helped bring much needed training to four very small rural communities in Central Washington. Bi-lingual computer training was made available to hundreds of predominantly monolingual Spanish-speaking Hispanic agricultural workers and their families. Students were able to take advantage of their abilities to learn the technology quickly, accessing information as well as learning ESL and other skills. Young and old were able to learn together and the volunteer base grew. As more and more young students begin coming in, we are able to take advantage of their abilities to learn the technology quickly. We allowed them to teach each other as they naturally seemed to do. The labs in Mattawa and Royal City developed a sense of community, as people of all ages worked simultaneously and without fear in asking for help from one another.
The development of skills and confidence that was nurtured in the community labs led to more individual commitment to purchase computers for home use. As a result, these communities not only have new community labs, but a group of adults and children who are able to continue to deepen their knowledge and use of computers at home.