The fight for adult literacy has gone digital

Brian Isdell We plan to bring our entire computer lab to an outdoor event in Philadelphia this summer. He wants you to visit.
He will be driving a “Techmobile,” a large van that can hold eight computers or tablets with full WiFi access and one-on-one training. Launched three years ago and previously canceled due to technical challenges, the purpose of the van and its event visits is to provide technology, internet access and training to the public while on the move.
Techmobile is part of a larger company. key spot effort by philadelphia free library and many other organizations across the city are working to bridge the digital divide between those who have easy access to technology and those who don’t.It became a hot topic at events during the period. Philly Tech Week presented by Comcast, led by the Mayor’s Literacy Committee. This is an adult answer to many young people’s approaches to STEM learning, such as: tech girls and coding by kids.
The hope of these adult-focused initiatives is to provide leaders of low-income households, who frequently find themselves on the restrictive side of the digital divide, an opportunity to move above the poverty line with adult digital literacy and education services. That’s it. Consider that last year, state GED exams began being offered only in digital format and required some degree of computer literacy.
With a little more technological reassurance, it is hoped that residents who may have lost their jobs due to lack of experience in a rapidly changing technological world will be able to gain a place in the evolving economy. .
In 2011, Mayor Michael Nutter Philadelphia is reported to have a whopping 550,000 adults. [PDF] I don’t have the literacy skills to apply for a job.
Families who cannot afford broadband Internet access or home computers at home have the opportunity to use new technology to find work, education, and learn about the affordability of the Internet with help from community centers. I can.
Mercy Neighborhood Ministry of Philadelphia The neighborhood is located in the Tioga and Nicetown neighborhoods of North Philadelphia, which has one of the highest poverty rates in the entire city, at about 40 percent, according to a 2013 Pew study.
It was founded in 1997 by the Sisters of Mercy in 1993, when the archdiocese began closing parishes and Catholic schools, according to representatives. The only choice for the nuns was to finish their mission or start somewhere else.
Sister Ann ProvostThe executive director of Mercy Neighborhood Ministries said the faith-based nonprofit was founded with a strategic plan to be a hub for families in the community. The services provided to the community were aimed at responding to the various needs directly raised by local residents.
“Each of our programs is shaped by the needs we learn through the families we serve,” Provost said. “When we were here for a year, families reached out to us and asked if we could consider a preschool. We also had focus groups about how to care for the elderly in our neighborhood. was also held.”
This also includes basic computer literacy.

A prominent need in the Tioga-Nicetown area was adult education. With this component, Mercy Neighborhood Ministries moved toward workforce development after establishing his GED program. The center accepts students between the ages of 25 and 75.
The current GED test format was introduced in Pennsylvania in January 2002 as a paper-based test and became computer-based in 2012. It officially changed from paper to online format in January 2014.
Therefore, to prepare students for the test, Mercy Neighborhood Ministries has a computer lab for courses. He meets twice a week and accepts 55 students, most of whom are working towards their GED or literacy skills.
“Increasingly, our daily lives require us to go online to make appointments, find information about businesses, pay taxes, and more,” he said. scott pinkleman, Digital Literacy Innovation Specialist in the Free Library’s Innovation and Technology Department. “We’re trying to guide people through this online environment where there’s a lot of life going on.”
Additionally, to provide regular digital access and instruction to the public, Mercy Neighborhood Ministries and the Free Library have partnered to establish a small computer lab that is open during the week and hosts public events.
ozvia jonesA digital resources specialist at the Free Library of Philadelphia, he worked at another public hotspot near the intersection of Broad Street and Susquehanna Avenue before the program was cut back. Later, he was brought to the Mercy Neighborhood Ministry as a staff member of the Public Institute.
Jones works for Mercy Neighborhood Ministries, but is also an employee of the Free Library. Provost said he sees the library as one of the biggest opportunities for the neighborhood because the center couldn’t afford to hire staff on its own.
Mr Jones said he found that adult learners were open to learning new technology.
“The more they’re willing to challenge themselves, the more they’ll get out of the technology,” Jones says. “Your potency when you use it will make all of your things bloom. I encourage people not to have a linear mindset about how they use technology.”
richard tillerA certified nursing assistant looking for a new job, he said he graduated from college. Cortiva Massage Therapy Institute However, due to a “minor setback” he was unable to serve on the state board. He met Jones through the Broad and Susquehanna hotspots.
“There are a lot of single mothers and fathers looking for work, and this is a stepping stone for them,” Tiller said. “I don’t let setbacks stop me. I’m looking for a better position.”
Additional services at the center include early childhood childcare, adult childcare, and digital literacy education for all ages with a second, larger computer lab.
In 2003, Mercy incorporated separately from the Sisters of Mercy after working in rented office space. The current building opened in 2009, formerly a vacant warehouse whose last tenant was a copper pipe manufacturer in the 1950s. During the four-year renovation, members of the surrounding community had input into the building’s design, making it one of the city’s first green buildings.
To make the renovations possible and maintain the building itself, the center receives funding from a wide range of donors as well as the government. William Penn Foundation, PHMC and reinvestment fundWe covered the construction costs for new classrooms. Revenue also comes from fees collected for programs offered by the center.
Many local adult literacy coordinators believe that in addition to providing access to technology, it is equally important to teach it to adults, especially those who did not grow up in a time when technology was so pervasive in everyday life. He said there is.
In 2012, the city removed the distinction between traditional literacy and digital literacy, telling Philly that the digital divide is an education issue, not an accessibility issue.

Educated tutors and volunteers were needed to teach these newly prioritized skills. The Mayor’s Literacy Commission Technology Instructors has launched a program to acquire tech-savvy talent to help educate the city’s adult learners.
Tech Tutors is a partner of the Mayor’s Literacy Commission, the Mayor’s Office on Civic Engagement and Volunteerism, the Freedom Rings Partnership, and drexel university.
Stephen Waitsis a general engineer for a government defense contractor and a volunteer instructor for Tech Tutors. He currently does volunteer work through an organization called. my place I will be teaching 3 students. Because he commutes to work, he only comes to the computer lab once a week, but he still assigns homework to his students throughout the week, he said.
“I was looking for a way to contribute to this city,” Waits said. “I took classes to become a technical tutor in 2013. In October 2014, after receiving a flurry of emails in the city, I learned of the need for technical tutors and started teaching in November 2014. started.”
It was because of his connection Lynette HazeltonAdult Education Coordinator and Communications Manager. District 1199C Training and Upgrade Fund, that Waits was able to become a tutor in the district. In collaboration with Tech Tutors, the Mayor’s Commission hopes to improve employment prospects for adults in Philadelphia.
Diane InversoHe is a senior director on the Mayor’s Committee, overseeing the Nutter administration’s efforts to strengthen adult education policy.
“Our role is primarily to help the adult citizens of the City of Philadelphia become more literate and comfortable with reading, writing, and arithmetic.” [and] To make them more employable,” Inverso said. “We also support the literacy providers, the people who actually provide these services, professional development training and opportunities.”
In addition to providing adult education opportunities, the Mayor’s Commission also coordinates key spots in Philadelphia. Inverso said KeySpot’s home network currently has 51 organizations, 19 of which are located in Philadelphia’s parks and recreation centers, all of which are open to the public.
“There are multiple reasons why people lose their jobs,” Waits said. “A lot has changed since many of these adult learners started school. Today, if you don’t have basic digital literacy skills, it’s difficult to acquire them.”
Charna Washington Another instructor at Tech Tutors, IHM Literacy Center Located in West Philadelphia.
Her duties include teaching students English as a second language and basic computer usage, such as buying groceries online, finding bus schedules, and sending emails. It is included.
Ms. Washington has been working as a tutor for about five months. Initially, she started with four students, but now she has reduced to two.
Washington said one of her students is fluent in English, but has trouble understanding certain terms she reads. The way the Washington government can help with this is by using Google to look up words and their definitions.
She alternates between the physical dictionary and the online version to help her students adapt to technology so that her goal of helping her children with their homework is less daunting.
“One of my students is ahead of the rest because he’s pretty good with technology,” Washington said. “He is familiar with his mobile device and how to use it as a computer, but the other students don’t understand it.”
Many adult educators said it is common for students to be comfortable with smartphones but less familiar with desktop and laptop computers. According to a 2012 study, Welcome Center for New Pennsylvaniansimmigrants in the United States are some of the most active users of mobile devices, sometimes surpassing native users.
This population, as well as others facing the challenge of bridging the digital divide once and for all, will be the target population for various programs and organizations in the city to address this issue. This organization and program strives to be a hub for people to take full advantage of the evolving technology of today’s economy.
Brian Isdell, who runs TechMobile for Free Libraries, said they use modified vans to supplement these static computer labs with mobile labs that are open to the public.


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