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Digital Literacy Training in New York City for Middle School Students and their Families

The New York City Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications (DoITT) and the New York City Department of Education (DOE) launched the NYC Connected Learning program in 56 low-income middle schools across New York City. The program is a citywide initiative to boost sustainable broadband adoption and enhance educational outcomes among sixth grade students and their families. DoITT and DOE partner with a range of non- and for- profit organizations to provide free computers, discounted broadband service, comprehensive digital literacy training, and technical support to participating families.

Computers for Youth (CFY), a national non-profit focused on improving the educational learning environments for low-income children, hosts Family Learning Workshops at these schools, teaching students and their parents about the educational uses of home technology and broadband. CFY also provides participants with a broadband-ready Home Learning Center, broadband enrollment guidance, and access to high-quality, online educational software focused on math, English, social studies, and science. The program’s professional development partners, Teaching Matters and the Australian United States Services in Education (AUSSIE), provide each school with an Instructional Technology Coach (ITC) responsible for training teachers to use computers to enhance classroom activities. The program also provides teachers with digital literacy curricula through its partnership with Common Sense Media. NYC Connected Learning partners with The City University of New York (CUNY) and MOUSE Squad to help schools set up a student-run help desk that provides technical support and general troubleshooting. NYC Connected Learning participants also receive discounted rates for high speed Internet from Cablevision and Time Warner Cable.

As of May 2011, approximately 13,832 students and family members have participated in the program. The program has subscribed 2,566 families to broadband, trained 360 students in MOUSE help desk operations, and trained 1,287 teachers in ITC courses. By the end of the project, the NYC Connected Learning program will be operational in 72 schools.

Middle School Students at a computer station