What is the role of technology in afterschool programs?
In an ideal world, there would be enough money for all students, in school and afterschool, to have access to computers for research and academic enrichment. In reality, resources can be scarce, and, while some computers might be available, there might not be enough to go around. Still, students love to use computers, and access to them can be a strong marketing tool, as well as a powerful enrichment tool, for your program. Think creatively; in afterschool programs, you might be able to take advantage of smaller groups or more flexible schedules to make computers available to a few students at a time. In this way, students might have opportunities that are unavailable during school hours or at home.
Adriana de Kanter La Perla talks about the demand for Technology in afterschool programs.
There are many organizations whose mission is to bring innovations in technology into school and afterschool settings, including WNET/Thirteen New York. The International Education and Resource Network (iEarn) is a non-profit that empowers teachers and young people to work together online at very low cost through a global telecommunications network. The Institute for Learning Technologies (ILT) at Columbia University works to encourage the human application of information technologies, and to expand educational opportunity and achievement through innovative projects, research, instruction and technical support.
The ILT partners locally with Playing2Win, a community-based technology center that offers workshops and projects for the community. Playing2Win and ILT sponsor the successful HarlemLive, an Internet publication produced by Harlem teens. Their Web sites offer ideas and information about using technology with youth. Around the country, for-profit corporations like America Online and Intel Corp. have extended their philanthropic efforts to include work with afterschool programs in schools and outside of schools. If you are starting from scratch, looking for ways to bring technology to your program, these organizations can offer initial guidance.
At Playing2Win, teachers and students talk about the variety of short and long term benefits they see when students have access to computers, and are taught how to use them.
Bear in mind that, like television and videos, computers are only educational tools when students are given clear goals for their use, and when they are supervised closely by adults. Given this caveat, your afterschool program can be enhanced if you find ways to use technology creatively to excite and engage students. Your lessons should still address student needs as we've outlined in this section. But the possibilities are as limitless as the Internet itself.
For information about using technology in the classroom setting, including appropriate use guidelines, take a look at the Thirteen/WNET New York's NTTI (National Teacher Training Institute) Web site, housed on wNetSchool. For further information about incorporating technology into afterschool programs, see the Department of Education's paper "Technology in Afterschool Programs".
Technology for program administrators.
You've already made use of the Internet to find this Web site, and as you can see from all of the online resources we've cited, the Internet can be a highly effective tool for seeking funding, finding curriculum ideas, communicating with directors of other programs, and staying up-to-date on issues in the field of afterschool education. You might also consider putting information about your afterschool program online. Creating your own home page and simple Web site can be one way to communicate information about the program to parents and to community leaders. It's an impressive way to garner support, and can lead to new funding sources, pools of volunteers, and exchanges with people who might not otherwise find out about your program. (If you have the resources and the training, you can include youth in the creation of the Web site - an activity that gives the students the opportunity to learn valuable skills, use their creativity, and give back to the program.)
Looking through the prism "interactivity"
In the previous section, you have had a chance to explore the aspects of a quality program. Our experts and designers have come up with the following Looking Through the Prism "Interactivity" to inspire you to think about the evaluation of your program, and begin to identify your needs.
|Click here for an interactive activity. |
Now you are ready to move on to Implementation, where you will proceed through the specific steps of planning your program, including scheduling and activity planning.