Last week I was in Orr to hear about broadband projects in the area. I was happy to meet Missy Roach from the Timberjay newspaper. She was kind enough to tell me about the difficulty she has as a reporter doing her work without broadband. Spoiler alert – she gets up in the middle of the night to upload stories!
As Missy points out she’s not alone. Imagine the entrepreneurs or potential entrepreneurs trying to do their work under such circumstances. It’s a barrier to business and a barrier to recruitment to the area. But Missy’s problem is a larger community issue – broadband is getting in the way of people getting news and that’s a civic issue!
Yesterday I attended the Strut Stuff Tour in Orr to hear about our the local broadband adoption programs went through the IRBC (Iron Range Broadband Communities) program. We were in Orr but this project brings together Orr, Cook and Bois Forte. It is apparently the first time these three communities have worked on something together outside of the school.
It seems that everyone is working well together they are focused on training, equipment for community center (to accommodate training and other online interactions) and wifi in the area – both in terms of places to go for public wifi and mobile hotspots for community members to check out from the library.
It was interesting to hear about the training. They had just completed a survey of residents and businesses and had a good return. Training needs range from how to use a computer to online business marketing.
I have a video of the intro to the meeting and full notes below.
I’m going to keep my notes a little rough with the intention of leaving them more complete for any community looking at implementing similar projects. Continue reading
Thanks to everyone who attended the Blandin webinar on digital include earlier today. Here’s the archive:
The July webinar is entitled “Digital Inclusion Basics” will feature three nationally known digital inclusion experts. Angela Siefer is the director of the National Digital Inclusion Alliance. She has hands-on experience with many digital inclusion projects and has done significant research in this topic area. Emy Tseng is a senior program specialist with the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) and worked previously with the City of San Francisco. Emy recently was recognized for her excellent work at the NDIA conference with the prestigious Charles Benton award. Ann Treacy is a key member of the Blandin Broadband team and has tremendous experience both researching and providing hands-on training for technology learners at all levels.
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.
In May, I wrote about a boy outside of Biwabik with autism who was missing therapy because his broadband (satellite) was intermittent. In Forum has learned more about the story…
As a youth who suffers from autism, technology is a way that Dalton can connect to the rest of the world.
“He is extremely interested in anything visual,” his mother, Kirsten Klang, said. “That is how he learns.”
However, Dalton usually cannot connect to the internet for videos and other online aids because the family lives in a northern Minnesota area without wired internet service.
“He is so smart,” Klang said. “But I just don’t have the resources to get him as much internet as he could use.”
The satellite internet service Klang uses is spotty, at best, and costly for how little good it provides.
The boy’s story illustrates a push to expand high-speed Internet, known as broadband, in rural Minnesota. Gov. Mark Dayton set a goal of making broadband available to every home and business.
The situation is getting better – but not everywhere…
The government and private investments mean that not everyone’s story is like that experienced by Klang and her son.
“In general, we are seeing the momentum and the interest in the program increase,” Executive Director Danna Mackenzie of the state’s Office of Broadband Development said about state broadband construction grants.
The article goes on to highlights towns with and without access. It’s another example of the growing interest in equitable access for all!
This would be a tremendous opportunity for the right person. And I’d love for that right person to be from Minnesota…
ICANN Announces Global Indigenous Ambassador Program
14 June 2017
LOS ANGELES – 14 June 2017 – The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) today announced the creation of the Global Indigenous Ambassador Program. The program establishes two Indigenous Ambassadors, to be selected from underrepresented indigenous communities. Through the inclusion of a broader and more diverse base of knowledgeable constituents, ICANN will be better equipped to support the next generation of the global Internet community. “This is an exciting opportunity for two Indigenous Ambassadors to learn about ICANN and the At-Large community, representing the best interests of Internet end users,” states Loris Taylor, President & CEO, Native Public Media.
ICANN is now accepting applications for two Global Indigenous Ambassadors. Applicants must be members of unserved or underserved tribal or native communities and meet the ICANN Fellowship Program criteria[icann.org]. Selected participants will receive travel, hotel, and per diem for the ICANN60 Conference in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, to be held 28 October – 3 November 2017.
The deadline for submitting applications is 6 July 2017.
This summer the Blandin Foundation is focusing their monthly webinars on Digital Inclusion and highlighting some of the great speakers and content from the National Net Inclusion conference held in St Paul in May.
- July 11 – Digital Inclusion Basics
- August 10 – Low Income Devices and Connectivity
- September 14 – Assessment tools and training
All webinars are from 3:00 till 4 pm.
According to the Net Inclusion conference hosts (the National Digital Inclusion Alliance – NDIA), “digital inclusion refers to the activities necessary to ensure that all individuals and communities, including the most disadvantaged, have access to and use of Information and Communication Technologies. This includes five elements:
- affordable, robust broadband Internet service;
- Internet-enabled devices that meet the needs of the user;
- access to digital literacy training;
- quality tech support; and
- applications and online content designed to enable and encourage self-sufficiency, participation and collaboration.
The July webinar is entitled “Digital Inclusion Basics” will feature three nationally known digital inclusion experts. Angela Siefer is the director of the National Digital Inclusion Alliance. She has hands-on experience with many digital inclusion projects and has done significant research in this topic area. Emy Tseng is a senior program specialist with the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) and worked previously with the City of San Francisco. Emy recently was recognized for her excellent work at the NDIA conference with the prestigious Charles Benton award. Ann Treacy is a key member of the Blandin Broadband team and has tremendous experience both researching and providing hands-on training for technology learners at all levels. (Register here!)
The August webinar will focus specifically on programs that provide devices and low-cost Internet to low-income families.
September will focus on assessment tools and training.
Please put these on your calendar. They will be very informative events!