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One of the goals of a community computer network is to close the gap between technology "haves" and "have-nots". This gap includes a lack of access to computers and the physical infrastructure needed to support computer use, and a lack of computer and Internet literacy skills. During the last 2 Ĺ years Prairienet, an outreach service of the Graduate School of Library and Information Science of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, has implemented the Community Networking Initiative project to address the technology needs of "have-not" groups in Champaign County. The mission of this project was to provide information and technology access to economically disadvantaged neighborhoods and groups. The project included computer training and the creation of computer labs that are publicly accessible.
Based upon the success of the local project and Prairienetís desire to reach out to other communities. Prairienet is initiating partnerships with existing groups and organizations that are trying to address the digital divide. Prairienetís efforts will be to enhance those programs and expand the capacity of those groups. The goal is to develop four to six computer labs, to expand the computer and Internet training curriculum, and to train individuals to deliver the training.
The role of Prairienet will be to create local capacity. The computer labs will be publicly accessible and are tentatively sited for churches, local Housing Authority sites, and neighborhood centers. The focus of the training will be to train local residents as docents who will host the labs and who can in turn train others to use the computers and access the Internet. Ultimately the public access sites will be locally staffed and supervised.
This project should go a long way towards addressing the digital divide and increasing the technical capacity in East St. Louis.
UP260, Urban Social Problems and Planning, taught by Dr. Pattsi Petrie will be involved in East St. Louis this year. The course is an introduction to the dual contemporary issues of poverty and inequality in the United States and addresses how social planners might address these problems.
Brian Orland has left the ESLARP project and the University of Illinois. Brian has provided major contributions to the project and will be greatly missed. From teaching courses based in East St. Louis and starting the project in computing activities, to getting down and dirty on Outreach Weekends he was very dedicated to the project.
Brian has taken the Head of the Landscape Architecture Department position at Penn State University.
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Document author(s) : Deanna Koenigs, Paul Adams
Last modified: 06 September 2000, Deanna Koenigs