MINNEAPOLIS ( March 13, 2013) — For those who don’t have access to the Internet, or who don’t know how to use it, it can be difficult to get by in today’s digital environment. Applying for a job, paying a bill, or getting education online can be a challenge without the Internet. Minneapolis recognizes the need for our residents to be digitally literate if they are going to have success in the future. That’s why Minneapolis is kicking off a series of activities to promote digital literacy in 2013.
The City and its partners are hosting a series of open houses March 21 to encourage new users, community members and businesses to get connected with local community technology resources. In addition to libraries and parks, there are several locations in Minneapolis where residents can use computers with Internet for free, and improve their digital literacy skills. These locations are referred to as “Community Technology Centers” and the following locations are partnering with the City to host these open houses through their association with the Technology Literacy Collaborative, a local network of digital inclusion supporters committed to sharing best practices, advocating for technology and digital literacy skills and access, and promoting collaborative efforts. Free Geek Twin Cities 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. 2537 25th Ave S
• Tour expanded computer refurbishing center and see inventory of low cost computers for sale. Donate computer equipment, sign up to volunteer, and get hands-on computer experience.
• Presentations at 10 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. to learn how to take apart computers and about the key inner components.
• Presentations at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. about Free Geek’s volunteer program which provides basic computer skill training and credits toward earning a refurbished computer.
Project for Pride in Living Learning Center 8:30 a.m. – 4 p.m. 1925 Chicago Ave
• Use the computer lab at the PPL Learning Center to work on your computer, employment and education goals. Volunteers available in the lab to help with your questions.
Presentation at 10 a.m. on Learner Web – an online, self-paced program to help you increase your computer and Internet skills.
• Presentation at 11 a.m. on the Northstar Digital Literacy Assessment – assess your computer skills and earn a certificate.
• Debt Management workshop at 1:30 p.m. – find out how to pay off your debts and start rebuilding your credit.
NorthPoint Health and Wellness Center, Inc. 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. 1315 Penn Ave N
• Learn about online health tools, how to access your electronic health records or get one-on-one computer lab assistance to help you tap into a wealth of valuable consumer information.
• NorthPoint’s computer lab is open to the public Monday – Friday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (closed 12 – 1 p.m.) and provides free Internet access and computer assistance for the community on a variety of topics.
Pillsbury United Communities / Oak Park Neighborhood Center Noon – 3 p.m. 1701 Oak Park Ave N
• Tour computer lab, learn about community and employment services and talk with a computer instructor.
• Visitors can also schedule an appointment to come back for personalized computer and employment help.
Pillsbury United Communities / Waite House Neighborhood Center 11:45 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. 2323 11th Ave S
• See their computer lab in action and learn about their community and employment services.
• Lunch will be served for community members at Waite House from 11 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
University of Minnesota – Urban Research and Outreach-Engagement Center (UROC) 9:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. 2001 Plymouth Ave. N.
Visit the Computer Refurbishing Program, learn how to donate or apply for a refurbished computer and sign up for computer classes.
In addition to these open houses, the City will be holding community meetings this spring to discuss results of the 2013 Community Technology Survey and highlight what has changed from the 2012 survey. Additionally, city staff will also seek community input on technology services and programming needs and also seek support from those in the community that can provide technology access and services.
A 2012 survey of City residents found that 82 percent of Minneapolis residents have computers with Internet access at home, but technology access and knowledge gaps still exist with certain demographics of the city.
The City’s IT vision includes a component for addressing the digital divide, which is the gap between individuals and groups in their access to information and communication technologies, and their use and knowledge of these technologies. As government, education, health care providers and businesses are using technology to connect more and more with people online, it’s important to ensure that all individuals can participate in the benefits of the digital society. The city’s residents and businesses need to be equipped to effectively compete with others around the world —to be smarter, more creative, more knowledgeable, and more innovative. Leveraging technology is a necessary ingredient of success.
For more information about the City’s digital inclusion efforts, folks can call 311 or visit the City’s website.