We're keeping an eye on the steady stream of press releases coming from NTIA announcing approved BTOP grants. It's great to see the serious attention paid to digital divide issues by the federal government as well as the hundreds of nonprofits, libraries, and government agencies (both state and local) involved in implementing the grants.
Several of the successful BTOP grant applications made reference to the role of training in sustainable broadband adoption. Supplying free computers and discounted home broadband to members of underprivileged communities is only a temporary fix if the recipients don't have technology knowledge and intrinsic motivation to keep up their subscription to high-speed services once the initial training is complete.
The grant applications I've seen focus on technology training at two levels. First, some grantees such as One Economy and OneCommunity focus on peer-to-peer technology training with tech savvy individuals training their friends and neighbors.. Some of these community connectors will create their own curriculum in advance or on-the-fly. The second type of training is the train-the-trainer component. The community connectors will often need training to hone their technical and pedagogical skills.
Rather than build digital literacy programs from the ground up, I hope the BTOP grantees will coordinate with one another, share their resources and use some of the lesson plans and training advice currently available.
It's been almost ten years since I taught basic computing skills, so I can't vouch for the quality of these resources. Still, even if these lesson plans have flaws, it's often faster to revise someone else's outline than start from scratch:
WebJunction has a collection of thirty lesson plans for technology training in libraries that could be repurposed for a novice audience in any audience. In addition, WebJunction hosts a variety of materials with tips to help anyone become a better trainer and develop their own course materials. This pathfinder on developing computer classes is a good place to start. Teachnology, Thinkfinity, Hibbing Public Library, Indian Prairie Public Library and Community Technology Network (CTN) Bay Area all have thorough collections of tech-for-beginners lesson plans on their sites, while the Goodwill Community Foundation and How to Split an Atom both have collections of well-produced, self-paced tutorials on the basics of technology and the Internet.
I know that several highly-accomplished technology trainers follow our humble blog (Brenda, Stephanie, Lori, Michael, Helene, Jessamyn, Sarah, et.al.--I'm looking at you). I'm certain that I've missed several high-quality sites that offer free lesson plans and training advice, and I'm relying on these trainers to fill in my omissions.