This spring, the International Rescue Committee (IRC) in Atlanta’s English Literacy and Civics (EL/Civics) class partnered with PowerMyLearning to offer eight weeks of digital literacy classes to our intermediate and advanced level students. PowerMyLearning is a national non-profit that utilizes technology to help students expand upon their learning and excel inside and outside the classroom, and is part of the Digital Inclusion Fellowship, a program funded by Google Fiber in partnership with the Nonprofit Technology Network (NTEN). PowerMyLearning-Atlanta provides a Digital Inclusion Fellow to instruct computer and digital literacy classes to local learners. The program is free to all enrolled and covers basic computer and internet skills as well as advanced certification in specific computer software.
Felicia Tilman, PowerMyLearning’s Digital Inclusion Fellow, brought a mobile lab of 25 laptops to our EL/Civics class each Thursday evening and used Northstar Basic Computer Skills curriculum to guide her lessons. Each week, students had the opportunity to take certification tests for topics including Windows, Microsoft Word, social media, and email. The most common certificate received was Module 1 - Basic Computing. 11 out of the 18 participants received at least one certificate, and two students, Celina and Nai, received certificates for every module they completed. For Celina, having a great teacher made a huge impact. “I liked Felicia’s passion,” she explained. “She understands that we don’t always know, and she’s patient.” Even participants who didn’t receive certificates walked away from the class with valuable knowledge. “It’s great!” commented student Yaqui. “This is my first time. I didn’t pass the tests, but I liked trying. I want to practice more.”
Many participants have found their newly acquired computer skills to be helpful for work and every day activities. “Some of us never touch a computer, but in this country computers are everywhere! We need to learn,” one student, Christelle, noted. Yaqui agreed: “I want to change my position at work, and the computer skills will help. They’ll help my children too!” In addition to the students, IRC Atlanta’s EL/Civics instructors also enjoyed the classes. Instructor Bridgette highlighted the collaborative learning experience between students, the fellow, instructors, and volunteers as a high point of the PowerMyLearning classes. She also pointed out that many of the students wouldn’t have opportunities to learn digital literacy elsewhere. The PowerMyLearning partnership has been an extremely successful experience for all involved and we look forward to working with them again in the future.
To learn more about the work of the IRC in Atlanta and for information on how you can get involved with the IRC as a donor or volunteer, please contact us at Atlanta [at] Rescue.org () or 678-636-8941.