Mobile Computer Lab Project

SEPTEMBER 28, 2012

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We are moving forward with our plans to develop a digital literacy program with a focus on under-resourced residents of Kansas City.

Our goal is to help as many people as possible take advantage of Google’s generous offer of $300 for 7 years of Internet.  This connection fee can be paid with 12 payments of $25 in the first year of the service.

We have about a year before Google Fiber reaches the neighborhoods we care most about.   So, within this window of time, we will work diligently to help residents who have the means to become subscribers to understand all the benefits of signing up.

As we mentioned previously, three components must be in place to enable an individual or family to connect to the Internet; connection, digital literacy and hardware.  There are still thousands of people in our community who’ve never even used a computer.  Our plan is to create hands-on guided learning experiences that will be conducted in libraries, churches and other community facilities.  We will be helping people to learn how to use a computer and how to connect to the Internet.  Once they know how to get online, we plan to teach basic skills like using e-mail, browsing the web, and how to find what you are looking for.  We also intend to begin assembling online resources that are especially useful to the people we are trying to reach. A part of the training will involve how to sign up for the Google Fiber service.

Finally, there’s the hardware piece; obtaining computer equipment to get online.  For far too many lower income residents, this can be the biggest hurdle of all.  So, we have devised a plan to put the necessary hardware in the hands of the people who participate in our training sessions.  We plan to actually allow them to take home the laptop computers they use in the class. Our thinking is simple, why teach people to do something and not give them a chance to use it right away?   To help cover our costs, we plan to charge a $50 fee for the training experience that will also include a computer to take home.  Another thought in charging a fee is simply that people tend to value something more if they have somehow invested in it themselves.

This endeavor has the potential of bringing thousands of first time users into the digital world and to give them access to a host of opportunities with the potential for real improvement in the quality of their lives. These include employment search, online shopping, finding medical information, connecting with children’s schools, and staying in touch with friends and loved ones.

We are in the beginning stages of a drive to obtain donated and low cost used laptops and other equipment.  Details of this part of our effort are just coming together.

We will need donors, volunteers and sponsors to help us make this a success.  If you are interested in getting involved, please let us know using our contact form.

Thanks for your interest and support.

Written by Tom Esselman

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