What are the elements of a successful digital inclusion partnership?

Later today I will be part of a Blandin webinar on Digital Inclusion Basics. I’m excited to be on a panel with Angela Siefer (director of the National Digital Inclusion Alliance) and Emy Tseng (senior program specialist with the National Telecommunications and Information Administration)

It’s going to be a good conversation. I invite you all to join. I have been ask to talk about the elements of a successful digital inclusion partnership. So I’m getting myself ready in the best way I know how – write it all out. And then I figured heck – might as well share the sneak preview

So what are the elements?

Get the right partners 

At the National Net Conference (in May in St Paul) we heard about the three legged stool of digital inclusion:

  • Access to (affordable) broadband
  • Access to (affordable) devices
  • Knowledge to use them
  • Cheater addition: tech support and reasons to go online to that list

Start by finding partners who address these issues. An obvious example might be a broadband provider, a computer refurbisher and a community ed teacher. Or it might be a library, which provides all three. Also you’ll need someone to help promote the opportunity. Who speaks to the audience you want to reach? Get them involved. Get them involved early for a glimpse at what the target audience wants now.

Be sure that everyone understands their part – especially for any post-event, post-opportunity tech support.

Give it time

We all learn best when we get to practice what we learn.  The second round of training is often better than the first. BUT more importantly, students need time to practice what they have just learned. Think about how they can get the time they need with a connected device or computer. Can they take the computer home? Do they get reduced rate broadband? Is there a regularly scheduled open lab

Giving it time also allows for word to get around. A happy new digital will tell friends and family and build demand for more opportunities. An ongoing program helps build a community.

Check in and report back

Create a way for partners to talk on a regular basis to see how the project is going from all sides. Are there any opportunities for improvement? Any stories to tell to funders, policymakers, supervisors? Keeping that channel open helps everyone feel more rewarded and can provide a heads up on any changes such as funding cuts or opportunities for new funding.

This entry was posted in Conferences, Digital Divide, MN by Ann Treacy. Bookmark the permalink.

About Ann Treacy

I have a Master’s Degree in Library and Information Science. I have been interested or involved in providing access to information through the Internet since 1994, when I worked for Minnesota’s first Internet service provider. I am pleased to be a part of the Blandin on Broadband Team. I also work with MN Coalition on Government Information, Minnesota Rural Partners, and the American Society for Information Science and Technology.

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