[Hpn] Tooling the Web:Using the Internet to get there from here
Morgan W. Brown
Fri, 22 Dec 2000 09:59:06 -0500
Hello HPN FT's (Fellow Travelers),
Below is a forward of an article just published (part three of a three part
series) which may be of interest to you and others whom you know.
Note: Please read the notes regarding reprint and subscription information
and related articles which follow the article.
A Vermont publication for elders and people with disabilities
Vol. 9, No. 5
Pages 19 & 20
Tooling the Web:
Using the Internet to get there from here
[Part three of a three part series written for The Independent]
By Morgan W. Brown
The world of computers and the Internet can seem intimidating, mysterious or
abstract at times. Having access to the use of computers and the Internet
does not ensure a person the ability or skills to easily navigate this
The Internet is more akin to being in a maze where one can become confused,
disoriented, frustrated, worn down and lost rather than being a means to
acquire information, "find oneself" or connect with others. Put simply, no
one can lay blame on another for not daring to venture online by him or
While there are some places which provide what could be termed "driver
education" classes for getting around on the information superhighway, there
are those who fare better with a one-on-one or personally tailored approach.
However, unless one has the money and the resources to afford it, such
coaching is hard to find.
Many of the struggles some people face could be a thing of the past if the
obstacles they encounter were removed, or the circumstances caused by them
seriously ameliorated. These barriers deprive access to valuable resources
and opportunities which otherwise prove essential to improving the quality
of life for individuals, families and communities.
If we expect people to move into or advance within the workforce, or to
volunteer for non-profit efforts, they must be provided with the education,
training, resources, tools, reasonable accommodations and opportunities that
address their individual needs. This is the encouragement, support and
empowerment that will be necessary if we mean to assist them to continue in
the direction of their hopes which they have for the work, career or
volunteer positions they are
If people are expected to be able to focus, learn and then apply what they
have learned, they must be provided with an environment that is conducive
and supportive of these goals. Among other things, this means not burdening
them with lots of hoops to jump through, piles of paperwork or financial
debt. This would only serve to distract, impede or dissuade them.
To paraphrase an old saying: It makes more sense and, is much more
compassionate, to show people how to fish than it is to hand them a bowl of
fish chowder at a soup kitchen from time to time.
One possible way for us to get there from here would be to establish free
accredited programs to educate, train and certify people in various hands-on
computer, programming and internet skills in small class settings.
For anyone who wanted to learn new skills or to refresh former skills, a
person would first be thoroughly taught in the basics at a level and pace
that is appropriate for them. When ready, they could be instructed in more
advanced skills. Key components of their education would include being
trained in relationship building, and how to pass along their skills
respectfully and effectively.
When each person successfully completed certain phases of their training,
they would perform community service during which they tutor others
one-on-one (at no cost to the person being tutored) as part of their class
requirement. This could be done under various forms of
After their training was over, there would also be a final period in which
they perform a lengthy supervised internship. The internship would include
providing in-depth, one-on-one tutoring, mentoring and training to others in
essential computer and internet basics as well as sharing related knowledge,
information and experience that may prove useful; all free of charge. There
should not be any requirements imposed on anyone tutored by interns however,
other than having each person tutored complete a brief evaluation survey at
the end of the session.
The same basic standards and support would apply regardless of the skill
level and training each student may engage in or complete. Once the entire
training process was accomplished successfully -- including having all
training and intern requirements fulfilled -- they would be awarded the
These training programs should avoid an overly bureaucratic set up which
would drain resources, energy and time away from students or those providing
program administration, training and supervision.
Such programs could be funded and administered by a collaborative
partnership between federal, state and local government, corporate and
business sectors, educational institutions, libraries and other public and
private entities serving the public interest.
In addition, during their training, internship and in the transition to
employment, if a person is in need of support, assistance and accommodations
with transportation, housing and other needs or benefits, they should be
provided. This could be done through a voucher system or existing programs
that meet any of these needs. But, they should be accessible via one-stop
If we made these investments in people eager to join, rejoin or move into
the workforce, the dividends would be of immense benefit to our communities
in ways we now can only imagine.
Besides creating a broader and deeper pool of skilled workers, these
programs would provide richer and wider opportunity by giving greater access
to a wider range of people. These citizens would be tutored in new skills or
improve rusty skills. The new relationships between the people these
programs would bring together are another benefit.
The intention and purpose of these concepts, and of this proposal, is to
foster a free community-wide apprenticeship and mentoring model that can be
used to help bridge several gaps across Vermont and elsewhere.
This approach is envisioned to bring people together and build good will,
understanding, tolerance and community spirit, as well as address mutual
needs and goals within our diverse communities. People of all ages would
have a community resource to acquire skills for tooling the Web when, and
if, it is needed.
It would enable more individuals, families and communities to move toward,
and share in, an economic progress that today is only dreamed about. If we
all work together and freely offer support to each other -- especially with
those most in need -- we can get there from here.
Morgan W. Brown is a struggling, but "serious & persistent" writer, poet and
activist residing in the Montpelier area. His life experience includes that
of psychiatric incarceration, shock treatment (ECT) and being homeless.
---End of forward---
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To read the first and second article in this three part series, go to:
Net-Working: Revolutionizing What it Means to be Connected:
Wandering the Internet: Turning Online Experiences Into Journeys of Personal
Morgan W. Brown
Montpelier Vermont USA
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