Bringing technology training to families who cannot afford home computers and/or high-speed connections should be a goal for all communities. The success-example that I am most familiar with is the program pioneered by the DeKalb County (Georgia) School System in 1996. I had the good fortune to have worked with them during the early years of their Family Technology Resource Centers (FTRC’s). The success of their FTRC’s is unparalleled and has even gotten the attention of the Smithsonian Institution.

The Family Technology Resource Centers are designed to train, re-train, educate and re-educate family members in FTRC’s scattered throughout the county. In their first few years, these FTRC’s:

• Offered instruction, via state-of-the-art technology, in academic (basic skills, GED, reading and math), vocational, and technical areas;
• Expanded the hours of school to evenings and weekends to accommodate the family educational needs;
• Provided instruction for preschool through adult needs;
• Offered free child care services by a licensed child care provider;
• Utilized the existing hardware and courseware in the schools, as well as additional resources;
• Prepared parents for productive employment in the world of work;
• Increased student achievement by providing parents an opportunity to improve academic, vocational, and/or technical skills, encourage parent-child learning, and increase time-on-task for all students;

Over 40 years of research has shown that parental involvement in a child’s education does more to positively impact achievement than either parental income or education. In their early years the DeKalb County School System witnessed the following results:

• 77% increase in student school attendance;
• 90% of the students increased their GPA;
• 80% increase in completion of homework assignments;
• 80% reduction in student fighting;
• PTA attendance increased by 70%;
• Parental volunteer services increased up to 100% in all FTRC locations;
• More than two-thirds of the participating parents either gained employment or upgraded their existing positions.

For months, this BLOG has discussed the dramatic benefits that can be attained in business through the use of technology training. As you can see, our individual communities can also benefit in a variety of ways. The “video learning culture” is firmly entrenched in our society. The quicker we make use of these new learning tools, in both education and training, the more rapid will be our increase in learning. And, isn’t that what this whole discussion is about?!?

More on Tuesday – – – – –

— Bill Walton, Founder of ITC Learning