The Digital Educator 2 - Page 12

The burmese project

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Helping to Bridge the Education, Language, and Technology Gap

BPS International School 45 became the perfect partner to help unroll a new pilot program called, "School to Home" Technology Training Program.

“I want to learn more about computer,” one parent writes in an email to Heather DiGiacomo, the Instructional Technology Coach at PS #45, The International School on Buffalo’s West Side. This may look like something as simple as an email with a message, but for the refugee families of International School #45, this is large in scope and part of a bigger picture of accomplishments witnessed through the “School to Home” Technology Training Program.

At the start of 2013, twenty Burmese families from the International School #45 participated in a pilot program that was designed to help bridge the digital, language, and educational divide in the use of computers to communicate with the school and its teachers. The program was created by Computers For Children (CFC) through a grant funded by The John R. Oishei Foundation.

Community activist Zaw Win, owner of West Side Value Laundromat, which houses the WASH Community Project - sent a request to Paul Hogan, Vice President at The John R. Oishei Foundation for computers to send home to Burma. Paul saw the opportunity of using the computers in Buffalo to better connect the refugee population. “Having access

to a computer and Internet connection is essential to learning, finding work and support, and maintaining relationships with others who are often far away,” said Hogan. “For many people, the public library serves this purpose. But here, with Zaw’s dedication and ingenuity, families have access right in the neighborhood. We’re pleased to support this effort.”

Interestingly, when Hogan approached Christine Carr, the Executive Director of Computers For Children (CFC), CFC was already working on solutions for a “School to Home” technology-training program. CFC was looking to help further bridge the technology and digital literacy gap between schools and student’s homes. A conversation started with former Public School Board member, Lou Petrucci who explained that the Board was exploring options to help students and their families overcome the challenges of conducting research and applying for schools or jobs.

The families received trainings by CFC trainers. CFC Program Coordinator, Genna Mitchell, developed and, with the help of UB Career Center interns, implemented a specific curriculum to include computer basics, email, Internet search, NFTA bus schedules, an