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partnerships:articles:demo1 [2017/06/12 10:20] (current)
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 +Seeing IT is believing
 + by [Sara Gowen](mailto:​,​
 +IT and the Internet don't make much sense to newcomers unless there is
 +an opportunity for 'hands on' experience. Early in 1997 Sara Gowen wrote
 +this article describing how Community Links and the Burley Lodge Centre
 +ran a demonstration about '​Making Computers work for the Community',​ and
 +the lessons they learned.
 +*Below she adds some '​*[personal musings](demo)*'​ about using
 +the Internet with community groups since writing the article.*
 +The day was designed to give community groups experience of a range of
 +information technology, from word processing through to the potential of
 +the Internet. We set up six workstations (e.g. computer and printer or
 +modem) each with a '​tutor'​. People came from community groups with no
 +computers through to those who were thinking about going online. The
 +mixture of skills and experience of the participants enabled them to
 +share their own knowledge and form contacts which will provide local
 +support and advice.\
 +What people said
 +After the first hands on session participants formed small groups and
 +brainstormed two questions: what have you learnt and what questions do
 +you have? The response was interesting in revealing the wide range of
 +attitudes and experience of IT for community groups. For example, those
 +who had been at the Internet workstation said:
 +-   There is too much information - how do you manage it?
 +-   Some good, some bad information
 +-   There is a problem of access - getting the skills
 +-   It is like a big library or encyclopaedia - but what about the
 +    interactive stuff?
 +-   ​It'​s not very fast
 +-   There are a lot of hidden costs
 +-   ​Incredible!
 +-   How do you find relevant material quickly on the net?
 +The general comments are equally revealing:
 +-   It is useful to find out what others are doing
 +-   Cheap day but expensive equipment!
 +-   Need - what do I need? and
 +-   Cost - what can I afford?
 +-   Where does servicing/​backup come from?
 +-   ​Communities are empowered by access to IT
 +-   It has given me encouragement for further study
 +-   You still have to use your brain!
 +-   How do you find out which packages will be most useful for each
 +    group?
 +-   Where do you find out about courses and costs?
 +The main themes emerging from discussion at the end of the day were
 +sharing and collaboration - from sharing information,​ providing training
 +for each other to collaboration in purchasing.
 +Why not organise your own?
 +'​Making Computers work for the Community'​ was a success. We could have
 +had more computers, more time, more space but the basic format for the
 +day works. It is easily transferable to other parts of the country - so
 +why not think about organising a similar day in your area.\
 + A budget for the day is difficult to calculate as much of it came as
 +gifts in kind which we have broken down to give real indication of cost.
 +True costs worked out at £50 per participant @ 50 attending with 6
 +computer workstations,​ based on a staffing rate of £10.00 per hour.\
 + The following is a guide to the time we took to organise the day,
 +taking the organisation over six months, divided up as:
 +-   Month One: Discussion and initial planning
 +-   Month Two: Arrange venue, catering and facilitators
 +-   Month Three: Plan publicity and continue arrangements
 +-   Month Four: Publicity out, prepare advance information for
 +    participants
 +-   Month Five: Prepare programme pack and inform
 +    facilitators/​participants of details. Check all necessary equipment
 +    will be available
 +-   Month Six: Confirm catering, final arrangements and send out press
 +    release.
 +A full report of the event has been published and is available for £1.50
 +(including post and packing) from Community Links, 237 London Road,
 +Sheffield S2 4NF.\
 + ​Email:​ [\
 +My Personal Musings on the use of Email and the
 +internet in the community sector by Sara Gowen, Publication Worker,
 +Community Links\
 +Having published our main publication;​ the Ideas Annual on the internet
 +for over three years - I would argue that uptake and use of the net is
 +progressing very slowly within the community sector. I now get ideas
 +sent to me by Email but mostly it is phone and post. Community Links
 +Youth Team is developing its own site and this is where some of the more
 +interesting IT development work is happening within communities - as
 +young people use the medium to put their own message in their words and
 +I think the current value of the new technology to many local community
 +development organisations is limited. At best it is one more tool of
 +communication but it is certainly not the bees knees that some people
 +make it out to be. There are a lot of issues about getting access to the
 +equipment, the language used, the cost of telephone calls and just
 +finding your way around the internet once you get hooked up - all of
 +which will slowly be overcome but many of the small, unfunded, and often
 +isolated, groups who would most benefit are likely to be the last to
 +join up.
 +Yet to be positive, it is possible to be interactive and I hope that is
 +what will eventually happen with the Ideas Annual web site. People will
 +read an idea and click a button to send back their ideas, comments, etc.
 +This sort of immediate response just doesn'​t happen with a book. It is
 +still early days for the Ideas Annual web site and there are plans to
 +pilot it with local community IT projects in South Yorkshire to see how
 +well it works.
 +As for Email &​endash;​ it is instant communication but until more people
 +have Email boxes within our sector then it can only be one more tool,
 +alongside stamps, telephones and faxes.
 +Ideas Annual website at: <​http://​>​
 +Youth team website at: <​http://​>​
partnerships/articles/demo1.txt · Last modified: 2017/06/12 10:20 (external edit)