Goodwill committed to promoting digital literacy

Seattle Goodwill’s initiative to promote digital literacy in our community goes beyond basic computing skills. This initiative focuses intently on the resourceful use of digital technology and the associated thinking and navigational research skills that are becoming essential for life success in the 21st century.

Digital literacy is no longer a luxury, but a vital necessity for navigating the modern world, including everything from applying for a job, to researching and scheduling a doctor’s appointment, to communicating with a child’s teacher.

Seattle Goodwill’s unique training program is the first among Goodwills across the country to feature mobile devices rather than desktop or laptop computers, because mobile devices are the primary or only way many people have for accessing the Internet.

With generous support from Comcast, Goodwill is developing the curriculum, training our ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) instructors and rolling-out the new campaign across ten job training sites.

Keep kids safe online

SafeKids.com offers advice and tools for keeping youth and teens safe online.  Not just about computers, they also provide information and another look at photo sharing apps, cyberbullying, smartphone use and other ways to keep adults informed about what youth are doing online.  Here, you can also use Google’s SafeSearch engine which filters out sites that contain inappropriate content, including images.

Following are the first three rules for safe family cell phone use SafeKids.com has published.

  1. Have a conversation about when it’s okay and not okay to use the phone for talking, texting, apps and other functions. This should include both time and place. Talk about rules for cell phone use during dinner, at social events and in public places like movie theaters and restaurants.
  2. Consider having a centralized resting place for the phones to charge up while family members are sleeping. There are lots of reasons why phones shouldn’t be used or sending out audible alerts after bedtime. Just because your phone may also be an alarm clock doesn’t mean it necessarily should be sitting on your or your kid’s nightstand.
  3. Talk about the polite use of the phone, such as not talking in a loud voice (people think it’s necessary but it usually isn’t) and not talking or texting in a way that will disturb others or violate your privacy.

See the rest here.

Selecting IT support

When selecting an IT support company, things can get confusing really fast, especially when you don’t have anyone on the hiring team with an IT background. Here are some thoughts on what you should look for when searching for an IT company.

Needs assessment

You should assess what your organizational needs are for IT help, review your internal team and find out what technical skills they have.  There may be someone in your office with some technical skills who only needs help with the more complicated matters.

Before searching, take time to assess your needs:

  • Your internal equipment, i.e., computers, servers, web site and network
  • The skill level of your staff; ask, they might surprise you.
  • Will you or they research and procure equipment for you; do you let them do their jobs?
  • Will they take the time to walk through and understand your organization and its needs?

To whom should the IT person report?

It is important to figure this out and include them in the selecting process.  For example:

  • General manager (CEO/ED)
  • Accounting person
  • Technical support staff, if you are large enough to have one
  • Administrative assistants (best in the On Demand service model)

Paid vs. Volunteers

Paid:

This is best option, but make sure you get what you order.  Some companies are actually individuals  who will charge you little but offer limited experience.  Others can charge you a lot, but give you services that your organization doesn’t need.  You should test out a company on a small project before committing to a long term deal with them.  There are two major IT support models from which to choose. Whichever model, the contact person in your organization should have administrative rights and access to any technical documents.

Manage IT Service

In this model, the IT company normally monitors something within your network. This is the best option when you have no or limited IT staff and have services you need to be up, such as servers. Think of this organization as your IT Department.  Normally you build a relationship with a person(s) within the company who understands  your organizations goals. Make sure they plan to be around for a while.

On Demand Service

This model is best if you have someone who understand IT in your organization and needs help with more complex situations.  If you go with this model with no one to support your day to day needs, this model can be more expensive making it hard on the budget.

Volunteers

It is important to remember that volunteers are just that. They come and go.  You don’t want them to go when they are the only person with the working IT knowledge of your organization.  If you have a volunteer as your principle IT person/company, you should have them fill out a document that overviews your whole organization. The document I use is called a network notebook.  Stay tuned next month, when I cover this.  But if you don’t use the network notebook or need something sooner, make sure that:

  • The volunteer documents everything
  • You share your plans so they understand your goals
  • To get them in a position to be proactive, not reactive
  • To have them provide you with a cheat sheet of common tasks they do
  • To get them to commit for a period of time, such as one year

As a nonprofit, you will discover many organizations that are willing to provide you with some level of support for low or no cost.  Remember, IT support can be rather expensive compared to others you may hire, but with the right support these expenses will help your organization grow.  With paid or volunteer help, you should always ensure that you have access to copies of your organization’s administration data, should the relationship end.

No matter if you choose Manage Service or On Demand or Volunteer Staff, you should share your organization’s vision and goals, allowing them to give you their thoughts on how they can help you achieve them, in terms of technology.

Technology Matching Fund

The Technology Matching Fund provides
awards of up to $30,000 in matching funds to community projects which increase technology literacy, provide access to computers, the Internet, and other information technologies; and increase civic participation in the use of technology.  Workshops are being held February 10, 10:00 – 11:30 a.m. at 2100 Building, 2100 24th Ave S., Seattle, 98144; and on February 12, 6:00 – 7:30 p.m. at Solid Ground, 1501 N. 45th St., Seattle, 98103.

Due date: March 19

Seattle Youth Violence Prevention Initiative Community Matching Grant

The Community Matching Grant funds up to $25,000 and requires a 50 percent community match. The community match must show community commitment to, and investment in, a project. The match may include volunteer labor, donated supplies or food, meeting space and/or professional services. Both grants seek innovative, community-based projects to supplement existing SYVPI programs and services.

All applicants must attend a technical assistance session prior to submitting an application.  They are being held on February 24, 6:00 to 7:30 p.m. at Rainier Vista Boys and Girls Club; February 25, 6:00 to 7:30 p.m. at Southwest Youth and Family Services; and February 26, 6:00 to 7:30 p.m. at Therapeutic Health Services.  Go here for the addresses to these locations and for links to the application.

Due date: March 27, 2015 at 4:30 p.m.

Watch Me Now: notes on a surveillance society

PechaKucha Seattle, in collaboration with The Seattle Public Library, present “Watch Me Now: Notes on a Surveillance Society,” on February 26.  The event will bring together speakers from across the information ecosystem – including policy makers, technologists, advocates, and others to discuss the complex issues surrounding privacy and surveillance in the digital world.

This free public event will be in the Microsoft Auditorium at Central Library (1000 4th Ave) on Thursday, February 26th at 5:30pm. Starting this Thursday, February 5th, please see http://www.pechakucha.org/cities/seattle or http://www.spl.org for more information.

Scheduled speakers include Ryan Calo from the University of Washington Law School and co-director of the UW Tech Policy Lab; Frank Catalano, technology analyst and columnist for GeekWire; Jared Friend, Technology and Liberty Director for the ACLU of Washington State; Ramez Naam, former Microsoft executive, computer scientist, and award winning author; Ben Krokower, Chair, Seattle Citizens Technology and Telecommunications Board; and many other local and regional experts on privacy and surveillance issues.

PechaKucha Seattle was founded in 2006. Since its inception, PechaKucha Seattle has hosted 39 events city-wide. Over 400 presenters and have reached thousands of people to celebrate the amazing people that make our region so wonderful. PechaKucha provides a place for creative cross-pollination that is generative, personal, and truly engaging.

The Seattle Public Library brings people, information and ideas together to enrich lives and build community. The Library supports early learning and the joy of reading through our collections and resources, services, programs and partnerships. The Library also believes that privacy is essential to free speech, free thought and free association. The Library maintains a policy of confidentiality that covers library borrower records, including requests for information, use of online services, and library loan transactions.

What’s your vision of a day of learning in the future?

ShareYourVisionSeattle Public Schools has kicked off an “opportunity to help develop a shared vision of how technology should help enable all aspects of Teaching & Learning in Seattle Public Schools … and support “A day in the life of a Seattle Public School student”. Community members can share their vision at five upcoming town hall meetings. They will kick off with drawings made at the first Vision Summit, held Jan. 24th at Cleveland High. Over 100 students, staff, parents, principals, community partners and tech company representatives gathered to create drawings that shared their joint visions of student learning with new tech tools and innovation. Ideas ranged widely from easy learning web dashboards to video visitor walls, 3D printer/manufacturing labs, to mobile chemistry apps and devices, with sufficient Internet for all these…and much more!

Here is the schedule for the upcoming town hall sessions where you can join in. Meetings will be held from 6-8 p.m., in the cafeterias. Doors open at 5:30PM to view the vision drawings already created.

  • NORTHEAST REGION: Monday, February 23rd at Eckstein Middle School
  • CENTRAL REGION: Tuesday, February 24th at Washington Middle School
  • SOUTHEAST REGION: Wednesday, February 25th at Rainier Beach High School
  • NORTHWEST REGION:  Thursday, February 26th at Ingraham High School
  • WEST SEATTLE REGION:  Monday March 2nd at West Seattle High School

For more information, see techsummit.www.seattleschools.org or e-mail techvision@seattleschools.org.