Filling the gaps in technology education in our community – News
With technology becoming a vital part of our daily lives, it’s easy to take basic technological skills for granted.
Earlier this year, students from Missouri State University College of Business identified the need for basic technological skills and access for women who had recently emerged from domestic violence situations.
Now, Annice mclean and Dr Ching-wen Chang, professor in the Missouri State Department reading, fundamentals and technology (RFT) in the College of Education, volunteer their time to help women learn the skills they need to get back on their feet.
Recognize a need
The project started as a mission for MGT 440, leadership and development skills: identify a need in the community and come up with a solution.
Students focused their problem-solving skills on shelters or places where women find refuge and support after leaving a situation of domestic violence.
“What this project determined was that there was a gap in the access and use of the technology,” McLean said. “This can be a barrier for women to find gainful employment and continue their education. ”
Van Oswald, one of the students on the project, contacted the RFT department, hoping they could volunteer their time to provide technology education to women in need.
McLean and Chang were among the first faculty members to learn about this project.
When they met with the shelter coordinator, they realized the need to limit the number of people involved in order to maintain confidentiality for the women in the shelter.
“We were excited about it and thought it was definitely a need. So we volunteered to be part of the project, ”said McLean.
A unique course
The course that McLean and Chang offer for women is different from your typical introductory computer course.
“The goal was to design a course that met the needs and goals of individuals,” McLean said.
The two teachers started with a list of basic information that they believed would be relevant to anyone new to computers.
As they started to meet, they gained a better understanding of the specific needs of each woman.
“It could be anything from email to how to do a Zoom meeting, the online store or lessons on security,” McLean said. “It could even be using online games to help reduce stress or accessing homework sites to help children learn online.”
The best thing they could do was create a flexible plan that could help every woman achieve her goals.
“They just want something useful for them – they have to find a job, finish school or manage their banking online,” Chang said. “So we change the program to help them do what they want to do. ”
Teach and learn
McLean and Chang use technology quite frequently in their work, but they could still identify with the struggle to learn new technologies. “I think back to the first time I was going to have a Zoom meeting,” McLean said. “I was afraid it wouldn’t work.
After working with the women several times during the semester, McLean and Chang felt that everyone was taking something away from the lessons.
“I felt like we were helping the ladies. I also felt like I gained something from them – an appreciation for their attitudes and positivity, ”McLean said.
McLean and Chang hope what they started doesn’t end there.
“I think our ultimate goal is to make it more transparent for the ladies – more convenient for them and their schedules,” McLean said.
In the future, they hope to be able to provide more permanent access to computers and the Internet. So far, they’ve borrowed Chromebooks from college for each semester.
“When we finish the course, we go with the Chromebooks,” Chang said. “But hopefully if this continues, maybe we can work on a grant to buy some.”
They also hope their work will raise more awareness of others who may have difficulty accessing technology or technological skills.
“Maybe if other people hear about it, they will contact us and we could create other opportunities for something similar,” McLean said.