Closing the Digital Divide
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BBRI Gains Recognition in Report to Congress for Tailoring of Digital Literacy Curriculum | Broadband RI

BBRI Gains Recognition  in Report to Congress for Tailoring of Digital Literacy Curriculum  | Broadband RI | Closing the Digital Divide | Scoop.it

Broadband Rhode Island’s efforts to make digital literacy curricula more accessible to individuals with disabilities have earned prominent recognition in the latest quarterly report to Congress from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). The report is titled the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP) Quarterly Program Status Report.

 

The Administration’s quarterly report to several U.S. House and Senate committees, dated March 2013 and covering activities in the fourth quarter of 2012, includes in its summary of BTOP initiatives the work that BBRI has done in conjunction with the assistive technology organization TechACCESS of Rhode Island to equip trainers to work with disabled learners.

 

The report’s section on “supporting initiatives” , states in regard to BBRI’s digital literacy curriculum, “When designing the curriculum, BBRI and TechACCESS made it a priority to develop curriculum that was accessible for all users, including people with disabilities.”

 

The report continues, “Through this effort, BBRI has been able to provide over 100 volunteer instructors with digital literacy curricula designed to reduce access barriers and increase adult students’ engagement with the Internet.” The report quotes an instructor who commented, “BBRI has done an excellent job of establishing a structure for digital literacy to be available to the public.”

 

BBRI program director Stuart Freiman says the recognition from the NTIA serves as a testament to the collective efforts of many individuals and groups that have worked to enhance the digital literacy curriculum now being used across the state. “It’s gratifying, and this also gives us a sense of confidence that we’re addressing the needs of all Rhode Island adult learners,” Freiman says.

 

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Via Chuck Sherwood, Senior Associate, TeleDimensions, Inc
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Get Connected initiative opens opportunities for public housing residents | Broadband Rhode Island

Get Connected initiative opens opportunities for public housing residents | Broadband Rhode Island | Closing the Digital Divide | Scoop.it

An innovative public-private partnership among Broadband Rhode Island, the Providence Housing Authority (PHA) and educational broadband service (EBS) provider Mobile Beacon is offering much-welcomed access to technology for some adult residents of the Manton Heights housing community in Olneyville.

 

A pilot group of 25 residents are completing a six-week digital literacy training course held at a Manton Heights computer lab. The room is equipped with eight computers that were donated to the PHA by G-TECH. Participants who attend every class in the ‘Get Connected’ program will receive a donated laptop computer, a donated 4G Wi-Fi device, and free Internet service for six months from Mobile Beacon. After six months, participants may sign up for Mobile Beacon’s unlimited monthly data plan for $10/month through the EveryoneOn.org national platform. In anticipation of this discounted fee, participants will also receive financial literacy training throughout the course of the program.

 

On a recent Monday morning, a group of adult learners enthusiastically gathered at the lab as they entered the final week of their course. The resident services coordinator at Manton Heights, José Luis Suazo, says parents who are taking the classes are deriving a great sense of self-worth from the experience.

 

When it comes to use of technology, “The younger generation does a lot for the family,” Suazo says, whether for booking travel, assisting job searches, or other needs. “The independence these adults gain from this — that is priceless.”

 

The Housing Authority believes that only about one-fifth of its residents have Internet access in their home. The heads of these households often experience a digital divide not only with respect to adults in the workforce, but also with their own children, who have become more proficient in using computers.

 

Classes at Manton Heights are being taught in English and Spanish. The instructor for the Monday morning class, Victor Ramos, says the needs of the two populations have emerged somewhat differently in the classroom setting.

 

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Via Chuck Sherwood, Senior Associate, TeleDimensions, Inc
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The Providence Housing Authority and it's partners GET IT!  25 families now have the tools and skills to better their lives!

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BBRI Plays Critical Role During Imperative Moment | Broadband Rhode Island

BBRI Plays Critical Role During Imperative Moment | Broadband Rhode Island | Closing the Digital Divide | Scoop.it

For adult learners seeking to improve their skills and marketability, technology can serve as either a welcome aid or a steep obstacle to success. Because their ultimate target populations overlap to a great degree, Broadband Rhode Island (BBRI) and the Rhode Island Adult Education Professional Development Center are working together to address a digital divide that can impede adult learners’ path to a better life.

 

The PDCenter is funded by both public and foundation money to offer training workshops and other assistance to the educators working with the state’s adult population. According to PDCenter director Jill Holloway, numerous state agencies have their own approved list of trainers who work to improve the literacy skills of those departments’ client populations, and digital literacy has become an expected component of these efforts.

 

Therefore, the intent is that if a person applies for unemployment assistance or TANF benefits, for example, that person’s digital literacy skills are to be assessed and efforts to improve these skills take place where applicable, explains Holloway.

 

A particularly encouraging development is occurring at the Rhode Island Department of Education, which is launching a technology initiative. An advisory committee to the agency is considering a proposal to require all adult education programs to take up digital literacy as part of their coursework. BBRI will play a major role in realizing this goal, utilizing its digital literacy curriculum as the common framework for assessment and instruction.

 

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Via Chuck Sherwood, Senior Associate, TeleDimensions, Inc
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