As I mentioned in my last blog entry, one of the main barriers to digital equity is a lack of local advocates: the dedicated school staff member, local government official, passionate parent or leader of a religious congregation that has made it their mission to help bridge the gap. I’d like to talk about one specific activity ExploraConnect is putting together to see if we can activate and empower more of these advocates. This activity is a train-the-trainer workshop scheduled for September the 7th at the Senator John Pinto Library in Shiprock New Mexico.

Background: The Senator John Pinto Library functions as a college library for Dine’ College in Shiprock NM, however it is open to the public, and is one of the only locations residents are able to access free wifi and a computer lab in their community. The library has a limited staff, and is serviced by one very dedicated librarian: Samanthi Hewapakuge. I was introduced to Samanthi by the head of Natives in STEM, Chelsea Chee, who recognized her as exactly the kind of local advocate I have previously described. Not long after our introduction we scheduled a Family Science Night at the Senator John Pinto Library for September the 7th, and later we scheduled another for August the 24th. In future blog posts I will explain more about the granular details of these events but for now I’d like to focus on the library itself and how ExploraConnect can assist Samanthi and her staff promote digital equity.

The Library: Senator John Pinto Library serves the community around Dine’ College as well as its students and staff by providing a computer lab and wifi access. Library staff are responsible for answering any computer related questions that patrons may have, which in recent years are getting more and more frequent and becoming more and more a part of the library staffs responsibility. While discussing this problem with Samanthi, I decided to offer a one hour train-the-trainer workshop to help the staff better answer these digital related questions for their patrons and set them on the path to creating digital literacy programming. \

The Workshop: To create this workshop I have leaned heavily on Explora’s Science and Investigation based pedagogy, which I will summarize here: Never underestimate the power of a fun activity, and start by asking where a learner is with the material, and evaluate by ending with the same question. I am providing links below to access the components of this training training:

Instead of going through the training  step-by-step , I’ll identify the problem the training hopes to address, and what resolution we would like to see.

The problem: Library staff are overextended answering digital questions. They are unable to provide the quality of troubleshooting that can lead to digital equity because of lack of training.

The Workshop Addresses:  Addresses staff concerns and re-asserts the importance of digital troubleshooting. Lays the foundation for the staff to become better organized around digital troubleshooting. Lays the foundation for staff to implement meaningful programming for patrons to be more self sufficient. Leeds the staff to training resources to implement for themselves and for their patrons.

Resolution: After this workshop the staff should be able to better answer computer related questions, the staff should know the importance of good digital troubleshooting for their patrons, the staff will be able to keep a record of questions to inform future programming, and have the framework and resources to implement this programming.

Further ExploraConnect Steps: To keep close contact and evaluate the success or failure of this workshop, I will propose to put on digital literacy programming based on the records kept by library staff of digital literacy questions. I then will ask if the staff has any ideas for future programming and assist them in the creation of their own program.