MIRC Community Update: Windom

As the Minnesota Intelligent Rural Communities (MIRC) initiative winds down, demonstration communities are taking time to reflect on what has happened in their community as a result of added focus on broadband and broadband projects in the area. Each community will go through this process looking at what’s happened, lessons learned and plans for the future. One of the public benefits of federal funding for a project link this is the opportunity each community has to share what they have learned and the opportunity that other communities have to glean from their lessons. And so today I’m pleased to share notes from Windom (Actually I have notes to share all week. I’ll add this preamble to each for historical context – but each day will be a new community.)

Here are the note on Windom…

Windom had a great turnout of community leaders and MIRC champions for their closeout meeting – plus three folks from the nearby Southwest Fiber Project.

Windom implemented eight projects through MIRC. Here are the highlights:

Wireless and new devices in the schools – The school put a new focus on the use of wireless and mobile devices in both high school and middle school buildings. Over 100 students used their own devices on the school network. They created more access wireless points to improve coverage and bandwidth. The need for a more robust wireless network at the high school led them to start new at the high school with the old network being moved to the middle school.

They were able to purchase a total of 44 Ipads using MIRC and Remick Foundation funding. They also purchased a projector, Apple TV and a macbook pro. There was a focus on using these IPADs in STEM courses thanks to the commitment of a team of teachers who were creating content and learning tools on the fly.

Pre-algebra seemed to work best. The instructor created lessons, videos, and tests. To grade the tests took 30 seconds rather than an hour. Lesson plans were altered in light of the test results and individual and/or group assistance could be provided. Videos used for instruction, then students do the work and get the help. The videos were an excellent use for any substitute teachers. They used the videos to drive learning and to create a flipped classroom. They also used Khan Academy video to support locally created content. For the testing, they used Google Form Assessment.

They found that IPADS increase in student engagement. Windom is committed to the use of technology including training for teachers. Students can use the ipads as their own, including itunes, etc. The Windom Tech budget rose from 60k to 150k. Hopefully heading to 1:1 devices to students. They found that school provided IPADS drive community broadband use. Web enables video on demand for science learning; they could watch a series of short video highlights rather than a one-hour documentary. They also found that the use of student owned devices eases school owned device shortage. They recognize that the 1st year of use is tough on teachers in learning the tools and creating the content.

They now have 5 video units at BARC and a portable video lab at middle school. These units have high bandwidth for quality video. They are finding that connectivity replaces travel costs and time for meetings and learning opportunities for the schools and for local businesses.

Currently, they have two post-secondary options arranged – the U of M and Ridgewater College. There is no reason that many other sources of content cannot be arranged. They have done business meetings and trainings and completed a needs assessment for local businesses.

They are very interested in creating and promoting centers of local expertise to sell locally created content. They have tied this tech asset to a community need for intercultural communities. They received a BCBS grant to be more welcoming, focus on interpretation training – 44 attendees on introduction. They had 13 attendees from Windom for more advanced U of M interpreter training program. There was collaboration with Ridgewater on a leadership series with 65 attendees. Also health care CEUs and realtor training.

They also purchased four laptops, web cams, headphones, and printer/scanner equipment to improve public access and use. With this range of devices, it provides multiple broadband opportunities in one location. The laptops used for many community purposes including community theatre, senior citizen training and access. The seniors are using skype to connect to family in other places. The also opened up their computer lab, which was pre-existing, but underutilized. Marketing efforts of WECC/BARC have increased through MIRC. Now they have a job club meeting here using the computer lab rather than in prior location where they had to share one computer. There is also a senior computer club.

The first tenant in the incubator office in WECC/BARC has been approved.

There was an identified need to improve local website.

Finding Windom was developed to connect the community and market the community to the outside world. It is a community portal with strong use of google maps and places. There is a growing list of organizations and businesses on the site. The city website now links to Finding Windom on the front page of its site.

The City of Windom site has been greatly improved with lots of information, forms, etc. They have included Intelligent Community messaging on the site.

They were able to purchase and install 13 laptops with aircards across multiple agencies across the county. More info is now available in the squad car, ties to multiple databases. All forms are now in the squad car so that officers can create the report from the road so their presence is maintained out in the community, not sitting in the office. Fire department has two laptops in two trucks, leveraged two more laptops from state patrol. They have access to MNDOT emergency response guide in the vehicle and hybrid vehicle emergency response information. They have downloaded maps of towns and townships, lakes area as well as maps and building drawings of larger company facilities, schools, hospital, nursing homes etc. They also have aerial photos by address, access to weather spotting and weather radar online. More record keeping is online.

IPADS for Patients, Windom Area Hospital
The hospital was able to purchase 5 IPAD 3 to provide access for patients and visitors to online devices and connectivity. Now they can update patient’s caring bridge site, check email, and use patient education tools around their condition. The hospital is still working out the conditions of use – safety, cleanliness, etc. With some brainstorming by hospital staff, they have identified the IPAD as a tool for speech therapy as a new application; this is sparking ideas for other ideas.

A cool collaboration is that Windom School tech experts are going to train hospital staff based on their own learning experience, easing the learning curve for the hospital!!

They hospital administrator expects higher patient experience ratings. Now, hospital staff wants IPADS. Creating a culture of use!!

Windom is also doing Windom Business Caffeine Meetings, similar to the Social Media Breakfasts.

Here are some of the ideas that the group came up with for continued efforts. Most of these have a team that committed to move these ideas forward.

1. Finding Windom calendar improvement, SEO.
2. Market area (regional) better online, especially Google
3. Chamber CVB site with links to other public entities and businesses
4. Strategy to recruit knowledge workers, tourists and related businesses
5. Unifying counties use each others’ resources including private. Showcase best broadband practices
6. How to get people/tourists to stop in Windom?
7. Sharing lessons learned within the region to solve problems
8. Workshops for businesses in shorter time blocks, over lunch or breakfast
9. How to engage youth in the community and feel welcome to stay or come back?
10. Capture historical sites, unique people and businesses
11. Ag related businesses – renewable energy businesses,

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