For organizations that encourage broadband adoption and use in underserved communities, providing those communities with Internet access is only half of the solution. Meaningful broadband adoption requires trainers. Whether it's in a computer lab, in a classroom, or at home, people who are new to computers and the Internet often need mentors who can teach basic computer skills and help them navigate the web.
TechSoup recently completed a study of Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP) grantees, and one common theme that came up again and again was the need for trainers who understand and relate to the communities the organization serves. Ultimately, friendliness and community-mindedness outweigh technology skills. As interviewee Jason Schroeder put it, "You can teach anybody how to use a computer… but they [the trainers] have to be the right kind of person that the public wants to spend time with."
When asked to rank the top three skills they'd look for in a trainer, librarians and nonprofits agreed on these competencies:
Nonprofits and public libraries had different perspectives on some aspects of training and hiring, and we've gathered a few stories and resources from BTOP grantees below.
Image: Computer Lab, Shutterstock
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