We have all heard about the power of social networking, everything from using LinkedIn to find a job to organizing a revolution on Facebook. During Connect Your Community courses we teach about social networking sites in order to connect Appalachian residents to a wider world. However, the connections made in the classroom between participants can be just as valuable. A typical CYC class is comprised of adults of all ages, with limited tech skills, and a huge variety of interests. Our instructors try to utilize these interests to illustrate the topics they are teaching. This often results in conversations a little off topic, but these conversations create a sense of community that lasts beyond the computer class.
A recent CYC class was a great example of this or what I call “social computing.” A student, Judy, commented that her son would be interested in one of the websites that we were showing during class and mentioned that her son had a learning disability. Another member of the class, Sandy, spoke about her adult son, also with some difficulties. When a third member of the class, Betty, mentioned that she also had two grown children with learning disabilities, we launched into quite a discussion about how technology could enhance their lives. All of these young people can read but only one regularly uses a computer to play a game. As a result CYC scheduled a special class for these mothers and their special needs adult children. During the class these students learned about internet security, how to search for their interests and to send and receive email. Hopefully, with some practice these young people will become independent sustainable broadband adopters.
By sharing websites and a little personal information during a CYC class, new connections were made both on the internet and between these families. Technology creates a unique environment for people with all types of abilities. CYC provides information enabling families to access the possibilities, opportunities and life changing options made available on the internet.
ACCEL Connect Your Community