From Blandin Foundation’s recent assessment of the Blandin Community Broadband Program – the highlights from Nobles County…
According to Nobles County Administrator and Blandin Broadband Community Steering Committee Chair Tom Johnson, the Worthington School District is the most diverse in the state. Thus, one of the goals of the Nobles County BBC Steering Committee was to use technology to implement programming for new Americans. One way they did this was through the myON Digital Library project. The myON program and tablet devices were purchased for use by Worthington schools, and utilized primarily by ECFE and ESL instructors at all grade levels. According to project implementers, the students and families who use the literacy resource are reaping great benefit. Project administrators report that both children and their parents have increased their English language skills through their participation.
Nobles County has also focused on digital literacy for other county residents, including through the creation of college credit technology classes for high school students and digital literacy programming in alternate languages including Spanish, Tigrinya, Amharic and Karen. Participating immigrant families have learned how to use the computer for connecting with relatives back home, saving a lot of money on long distance telephone charges.
Nobles County also conducted a feasibility study. Using the results of the study, the county’s provider-partner, Lismore Cooperative Telephone Co., was awarded a $2.94 million Border-toBorder Broadband grant to create a hybrid fiber and wireless network to bring high-speed internet to the entire county. During testimony before the House committee charged with broadband policy, Johnson told state legislators: “If not for our participation in the Blandin Community Broadband Program we would not have been in a position to apply for and receive this much-needed state funding.”
Other projects in Nobles County increased public access to broadband, including through the installation of new public hotspots and upgrading to world-class symmetrical fiber the broadband connection available at the county’s flagship Biotechnology Advancement Center.
For a more recent look at Nobles County – check out the Redwood County profile I did earlier this year.