Local educators teaching neighbors is what Consolidated Telcom of Dickinson, North Dakota is enabling with their new $20k grant program. As Rhonda Dukart, marketing and public relations director for Consolidated Telcom, explains, this program is about helping people stay current with technology.
The grants leverage the existing computer and communications resources of local schools in communities Consolidated Telcom serves. By utilizing existing assets, they are able to create a bigger impact than they would with a stand-alone consumer education program.
Rural broadband providers routinely provide tech classes for the people they serve, but what makes this program unique is that professional educators are creating and teaching the courses described by Dukart. Central to this program is Consolidated Telcom’s relationship with EDUtech, the Information and Technology group within the state of North Dakota that supports K-12 educators.
EDUTech is serving a valuable role as the bridge between the educators and Consolidated Telcom. EDUTech provides an excellent overview and promotion of the program on their blog.
As mentioned in the above interview, Consolidated Telcom has some fun incentives to promote the classes and sees the potential for taking this beyond the classroom and creating a blended learning environment in the living room. Although this program is just beginning, Dukart hints that they are in this for the long-haul and that it will expand to more of the communities they serve.
It will be interesting to see what sort of benefits the communities will see from people converging on the local school and learning from the very same teachers who are teaching their children and neighbors’ children. In the end, the tighter binding of the face-to-face community, that results from these classes, may end up being one of the most valuable aspects to this program; something that is difficult to measure in a spreadsheet, but priceless in the real-world.