Gens Johnson is about to launch two statewide experiments, and they both will involve libraries.
Working under a federal Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP) grant, supplemented with funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Idaho's most rural libraries will soon have an average of 10 Mbps access to the Internet.
In a state where 40% of the libraries have been working with little better that dial-up access, and where the public access computing at the library is the only free Internet access in 70% of Idaho towns, how will life change in rural Idaho?
The BTOP/Gates initiative isn't just about connectivity, the project manager, Gens Johnson, says. More than just databases, Johnson is helping libraries connect to services that help youth and the jobless residents. The project delivers digital-literacy training, connects library staff with state job and education resources for patrons. In a collaboration with Boston's WGBH Educational Foundation, Idaho will roll out this summer a youth-friendly "SCOUT" service -- an encylopedic-like archive of short-duration videos on science, math, social studies and English and language arts. The statewide public broadcast network is a major channel for information on the project for the public.
There is no statewide newspaper in Idaho. What might public access computing in rural libraries enable in respect to news gathering, sharing and
Johnson was to attend "Beyond Books," but is unable because of a important family development (becoming a grandmother). In a video, she describes her BTOP work to expand broadband access to rural Idaho libraries, as well as the SCOUT initiative with WGBH.
The original resource is called "Teachers' Domain." Idaho Public Television, with which Johnson works, will call it "SCOUT." She's working with Ted Sicker, executive producer for education projects at WGBH.
In a state where 40% of the libraries have been working with little better that dial-up access, it will be as if the state has sudden gone online. How will citizens change their use of library access services?
Johnson wants to find out, from many perspectives. She startered her career as a technologist and a project manager for a local phone company. She then acquired advanced degrees in engineering and communications, worked in public television, and taught at the university level. All of that is helpful in her current role with the Idaho Commission on Libraries.
The BTOP/Gates initiative isn't just about connectivity, she says. More than just databases, Johnson is helping libraries connect to services that help youth and the jobless residents. The project delivers media-literacy training.
Opening up public and educational multimedia resources to direct public use is an emerging challenge and opportunity for both librarians and journalists. A unique collaboration between Idaho Public Television and Boston's WGBH Educational Foundation, will launch this summer to do just that with a rich, existing resource. The youth-friendly "SCOUT" service -- an encylopedic-like archives of short-duration videos on English and
language arts, science, math, nature and other topics.