Increasing sustainable broadband adoption starts with identifying an individual’s broadband value proposition and then requires a computer, broadband, computer training, Internet training, and Internet safety training. Follow up technical and customer support helps increase new users’ comfortableness and expedites the learning experience. Technical and customer support ensures that new broadband users receive ongoing assistance when it’s most important – during the first six months after users receive their first computer.
Computer refurbishing is made more difficult for many NGOs because they are not sufficiently funded to have the storage facilities they require for efficient operations. But when NGOs partner with government, businesses, and other NGOs, real synergy can be created. Since digital literacy is becoming increasingly important to government and businesses that seek to facilitate a competitive and highly trained labor force, they have a vested interest in maximizing digital literacy.
Refurbishing computers is a process. Efficient operations use equipment such as KVMs or imaging software to increase computer refurbishing productivity. When a computer has a hardware problem, it takes knowledge, spare parts, and creativeness to make certain every possible computer can be given a “second life” and be donated to a school, a library, or other NGOs.
Many NGOs experience difficulty obtaining computers to refurbish so that they can be donated to others. Computer acquisition tactics vary depending upon the existing opportunities. Conducting computer drives, working with businesses that replace computers, and partnering with government that conduct periodic computer refresh programs are often used in combination by NGOs, depending upon the community. Most NGOs and their constituents cannot afford to purchase new computers, so NGOs that are creative are often the most successful.
In many countries, older population groups have lower broadband adoption rates than the population’s universe. Some NGOs construct computer labs in independent living facilities and senior citizen apartments because with this strategy, computers become part of the senior citizens’ homes and lives.
– I just got an email with a picture of my new granddaughter!
– Look at the bad weather that’s coming…you can see it on the weather radar!
– I just found something interesting about a health issue that I was really worried about.
These are the type of comments that help others understand that broadband’s value proposition is as varied as each individual and digital literacy opens news windows into the world.
They are called the Digital Generation and there are times when an NGO’s older student volunteers can learn 21st Century presentation and communication skills while helping younger students computer and Internet skills. Programs that enable students-to-help-students creates youth role models and show younger students how technology is both empowering and “cool.”
In many countries, NGOs help schools by providing them computers for classrooms and providing other digital literacy resources to help increase student success. Parents, students, and schools’ administrators and educators understand the importance of this advocacy and support. Without access to broadband and digital literacy skills, it is becoming more difficult for students to remain competitive in school and gain the necessary 21st Century skills that will be increasingly required in tomorrow’s job market.
Many NGOs are required to include computer refurbishing as a core competency and is a necessary function for them to complete their digital literacy and digital inclusion mission. However, computer refurbishing results in CPU components and monitors that are not usable. Rather than dumping them in landfills, “green” NGOs show social responsibility by taking the extra steps to recycle eWaste responsibly. As an example, monitors contain toxins, including lead, that can pollute communities for many years. NGOs that carefully QA monitors and dispose of inoperative ones responsibly ensure that our planet will remain “green” for future generations.
Increasing Digital Inclusion is Socially Responsible and the Entire Family Must be Engaged in the Home Learning Process
Cost relevance and literacy are barriers to adoption and those barriers affect some sub-sections of our population more than other sections. Since broadband is a gateway to the empowerment that the Internet offers, it is socially responsible to encourage broadband adoption and digital inclusion. Computers for Youth has learned that it is vitally important to involve the entire family. Parents play a critical role and are the gatekeepers in the home and their engagement in the learning process facilitates home learning, digital inclusion, and digital literacy. Speakers at the Roadmap to Broadband Adoption held in Washington DC by the USIIA, Net Literacy, and Broadband for America included:
- Karen Perry, FCC National Broadband Taskforce
- Blair Levin, Communications & Society Fellow, Aspen Institute
- Elisabeth Stock, President, Computers for Youth
ISP organizations and NGO can partner together to increase awareness and help engage the government and other stakeholders in a discussion of digital inclusion and digital literacy best practices. With nearly 150 attendees and speakers representing government, ISPs, and NGOs, the Broadband Adoption Summit thoughtfully discussed barriers to and catalysts that will enhance broadband adoption. The summit was held in Washington DC and co-sponsored by Net Literacy, the US Internet Industry Association, and Broadband for America.