Digital literacy initiative moves to solutions phase

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 31 January 2021 at 4:00 pm

Nearly 3,000 have filled out survey so far

A group that is researching the internet gaps in Orleans County and developing a plan to improve broadband access is moving to a solutions phase.

The public is welcome to sign up for different sessions beginning this week. The more participation, the better in helping the Orleans Digital Literacy Initiative Steering Team pursue funding for expanded internet in the county, said Mary Beth Debus, president of Program Savvy Consulting.

She is assisting in the steering team in compiling the data about the internet shortcomings in the county, and trying to identify funding sources to expand services.

“The first several months we’ve been trying to define how different communities within the community are impacted by the lack of internet,” Debus said.

So far, nearly 3,000 people have filled out 48-question surveys about internet access and needs. The steering committee would like to have 5,000 surveys completed, but Debus said having nearly 3,000 surveys filled out so far “is a really impressive number” and shows the community is engaged in the issue. Click here to see the survey.

The committee will have 16 different sessions to dig deeper in the local internet challenges and gaps. Click here to see the topics and to register. If you register for a session, you should also register for the orientation.

Some of the topics include:

  • Digital Literacy: Older Adults – How might we help older adults discover opportunities provided by learning technology as well as how to use devices/access internet? How do we alert to concerns of fraud and misinformation? Might we push in these services through existing infrastructure?
  • Digital Literacy: Youth – How might we address gaps in digital literacy for Youth? How might we integrate internet safety into programming? How might we teach computer skills (vs. just phone).
  • Economic Equity: Access to Internet and Devices – How might we increase access to internet and devices for those with economic barriers?
  • Increasing Content for the Spanish Speaking Community – How might we increase access to content, training, coaching, and resources for primarily Spanish speaking community? How might we teach use of translation options?
  • Digital Literacy: Expanding Existing Services – There are existing training and coaching programs within Orleans County including BOCES, GLOW Workforce Development, NIOGA Libraries, and GCC BEST Center. How might we make these more accessible to the community? How can we design to be fully utilized and self-sustaining?
  • Digital Literacy: The Unemployed and Underemployed – How might we build the digital literacy skills of those out of work or displaced such that they can more successfully find and secure jobs? How might we link the unemployed to existing programs to support them?
  • Digital Literacy: Preparing the Future Workforce – What are the skills most needed in the future and what are some mechanisms for building these skills in future employees? In what ways can the business community/employers help to develop this workforce? What services/trainings/supports would be helpful to exist to support all businesses?
  • Digital Literacy – Supporting Schools, Students, and Families – How might the school systems support the community in developing digital literacy skills? What is the best way to offer support? How do we take full advantage of investment in technology? How do we support educators, students, and families?
  • Accessing and Using Internet: Solutions – How might we develop access to information technology resources for nonprofits? How might we enable use of technology for nonprofits to better achieve their missions?
  • Improving Internet Access – How can people with poor internet improve that internet? What options might be available? How do we alert people to these options? How might we reduce economic barriers?
  • Digital Literacy: Improving Access for Those Living with Disabilities – How might access to internet and devices be improved for those with disabilities? How might we teach digital literacy in an inclusive manner? How do we teach safety?
  • Improving Access to Health Care – How might we help patients learn to successfully participate in tele-med? How do we share the benefits? How do we develop health literacy? How do we ensure that they have access to devices that will work for them? Could we design positions that support digital/health literacy?
  • Developing an IT Workforce – How might we both attract educational programs to the community and recruit participants to these programs? How might we connect need to future jobs? How might we support those most in need of employment?
  • Designing a Digital Literacy Campaign – How do we get the community engaged in wanting to improve skills? How might we help the community to know the value of digital literacy? How do we share where to go to get help?
  • Putting It All Together: Developing an Initiative – This set of sessions will review all of the ideas from the individual sessions and search for overlaps, contingencies, and opportunities for coordination. This will be a longer process and will take place over three sessions and will require prework of reading prepared document of prior work.