July 22, 2014

BTOP: New Case Studies Show Schools, Libraries and Health Care Providers Play Key Role in Broadband Expansion, Adoption

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From the National Telecommunications and Information Administration:

Today at the Schools, Health & Libraries Broadband (SHLB) Coalition annual conference, we released four more of the 15 case studies that detail the impact of the BTOP public computer center and sustainable broadband adoption awards.  The case studies were conducted as part of an evaluation contract by independent research firm ASR Analytics.  With this release a total of seven studies  are available to the public.

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At Florida A&M University, a university that has historically served African-American students, a new BTOP-funded Center for Public Computing and Workforce Development serves Tallahassee and surrounding counties.  The center features 80 new computers with broadband Internet connections, internal wireless access, and interactive video conferencing technology being used to provide both college classes and training for area businesses.  A major focus of the center is assisting small and disadvantaged enterprises, including construction companies and website developers.  Senior citizens, middle school students, and summer campers are also learning new skills, from Photoshop and Google search to how to apply for college.

Direct to Case Study

The Foundation for California Community Colleges (FCCC), a nonprofit that works with two-year colleges throughout the state, used BTOP funding to provide computer training, laptops and wireless cards for low-income and minority students enrolled in the Math, Engineering, and Science Achievement (MESA) program.  Each participating student was required to teach a computer skill to at least seven people from his or her home community, such as how to send emails or use Skype.  Program participants were able to use their teaching experience to bolster their resumes.  Students also earned more than 1,100 certifications in Microsoft Office programs and used their laptops to apply for jobs, internships, and admission to four-year colleges.  FCCC created more than 9,000 new broadband subscribers

Direct to Case Study

Connect Arkansas, a nonprofit established by the state legislature in 2007 to promote broadband adoption and deployment, targeted its BTOP investment in the state’s 57 poorest counties, where 23 percent of adults have not finished high school.  The project focused on using broadband to improve education, entrepreneurship, and health care, since the economy of rural Arkansas depends on a population that has the skills and vitality to compete for jobs.

Connect Arkansas reached into schools to connect with low-income families, providing free computers and training to more than 1,000 students, along with their parents or guardians. Leveraging a broadband mapping grant from NTIA, the program also worked with 11 Internet service providers to match low-income families with discounted Internet access.  And it offered entrepreneurship classes in 144 high schools to teach students how to build websites and business plans.  In addition, Connect Arkansas collaborated with the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences to train more than 4,000 healthcare professionals in the use of telemedicine, a critical resource in rural and high-poverty areas.

Direct to Case Study

Finally, the Future Generations Graduate School, located in Franklin, West Virginia, took an innovative approach to promoting broadband use and adoption in rural areas by establishing public computer centers at 60 local fire stations serving largely poor and mountainous areas of the state. The fire stations received BTOP-funded laptop computers and broadband access in return for opening their facilities to area residents.  First responders also used the new computers to complete online training and update their certifications, saving time and travel costs. The stations also used the computers to file required incident reports online.  As of December 2012, more than 37,000 people had used the new centers to connect with friends and family, apply for jobs, upgrade their skills, and promote their businesses.

Direct to Case Study

See Also: Short-Term Economic Impacts Report

Note: We shared direct links to three more case studies (re: library broadband grants) from the National Technology Information Administration on April 21, 2014. See: “NTIA Releases 3 Case Studies Examining Impact of Broadband Grants Program on Connecting Libraries”

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Gary Price About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.