Evaluation of ConnectDC2000
Results of an Evaluation Study

Conducted by

Basic Technologies, International
1625 Massachusetts Ave., N.W.
Washington, DC  20036

March 2001



Summary


In order to fully participate in modern society it is necessary that one use technology.  Age, class, and race are the main characteristics that distinguish the users of technology from the non-users of technology.  CAM-FAM III, under the direction of Vernard Gray, and with the partnership of the Marshall Heights Community Development Organization, the Greater Washington Board of Trade and the District of Columbia Government (Departments of Recreation, Employment Services and the Public Schools), created ConnectDC2000 to address this "digital divide."

ConnectDC2000 was conceived as a means of bringing youth and the elderly together to achieve a common purpose: learning skills for full participation in the information age.  The program focused on such information technology as photography, documentary video, computer and the Internet.

ConnectDC2000 began in the spring of 2000.  It proceeded in five phases: The Design and Fundraising Phase, the Recruitment Phase, the Training Phase, the Production Phase, and the Post-Production Phase.  Students were trained in information technology, interviewed elderly community residents, and developed a web site documenting the results of their interviews.

ConnectDC2000 had a set of serious problems in implementing its activities.  Resources promised were not made available.  Yet, in spite of these problems, a program was put in place that should serve as a model for jointly training youth and the elderly in information technology.

Twenty-eight youths were selected to participate in the program.  Thirteen of the youth participants were female, and 15 of them were male.  They ranged from 14 years to 19 years of age.

All the program youth participants received training in digital photography, video camera usage, lights, logging, sound editing, video editing, and photo/graphics editing.  The youths were divided into four teams (journalists, web designers, documenters, and support team members) in producing ten websites from interviews with thirteen senior residents of Washington, DC.

ConnectDC2000 had a significant, positive impact on the youth.  Twelve of the youths indicated that before they entered the program, their knowledge of web design was poor. Five of the youths indicated that their knowledge was fair.  On the other hand, ten to twelve of the youth rated the program as "excellent" in teaching them about the role of a web designer and how to make a web page.  Twelve of the youths reported that ConnectDC2000 did an "Excellent" job in contributing to their computer skills.  Ten reported that the program did an "Excellent" job in contributing to their knowledge of multi-media techniques.  Thirteen of the youths rated their overall benefit from the program as "Excellent."

It is evident that the program had benefited the youth in a number of important ways.  First and foremost, it affected how the youth participants view technology, their future, and their relationship with seniors.  The program exposed youths to an avenue whereby they can make a contribution to their community, and in the process the program gave them marketable, technological skills.  The funds for this program were well used.  ConnectDC2000 should be replicated wherever possible.
 

Recommendations


N’Dieye M. Gray, the project director of ConnectDC2000 Summer Project provided the following specific recommendations for improvements in the program:
 

  • Have smaller groups
  • Continue to provide specialized training for the following positions: 
    • Journalist- writing, logging workshop, internet research
    • Documenters- videography, photography, lighting, scanning, internet research
    • Web designer-web authoring workshop, Photoshop, Sound Forge, other multimedia programs
  • Give youths specific assignments/instructions
  • Make the application–selection process more discriminating:
    • Evaluations on analytical thinking
    • Evaluations on grammar and writing
    • Evaluations on technical skills
    • Evaluations on note taking
  • Participants should be 16 years or older
  • Evaluate the youths the first week after they have been given their job titles and duties.
  • Have the youths sign contracts and post the contracts on the wall.
  • Select an employee of the week
  • Set concrete deadlines
  • Give specific writing assignments: creative and journalist
  • Have daily requirements, such as a 15-minute journal writing activity.
  • Provide general workshops: on Windows and Word (file saving, file sharing, opening files, closing files, saving files, resizing), Photoshop, Composer or FrontPage
  • Use CC mail instead of Internet based mail
  • Buddy computer efficient/literate with clueless (peer training)
  • Provide organizers with daily goal check-off list
  • Have youth complete a daily goal accomplishment sheet completed
  • Give one member of team the position of Equipment Manager
  • Give workshops in off-site locations
  • Facilitate elder interactions
  • Monitor interview editing and the web design process closer
  • Provide transportation by van
  • Take laptop and scanner taken on interviews
 

Evaluation of ConnectDC2000

In order to fully participate in modern society it is necessary that one use technology.  Age, class, and race are the main characteristics that distinguish the users of technology from the non-users of technology.  CA-FAM III, Inc. under the direction of Vernard Gray, and with the partnership of the Marshall Heights Community Development Organization, the Greater Washington Board of Trade and the District of Columbia Government (Departments of Recreation, Employment Services and the Public Schools), created ConnectDC2000 to address this “digital divide.” 

ConnectDC2000 was conceived as a means of bringing youth and the elderly together to achieve a common purpose: learning skills for full participation in the information age.  The program focused on such information technology as photography, documentary video, computer and the Internet.


Objectives of ConnectDC2000

ConnectDC2000 was designed to achieve the following objectives:

  1. Videography and Still Photo.  Train youth within the communities on digital photography, videography and multimedia related computer-internet usage.
  2. Cataloging Collections.  Train youth in documentation procedures for cataloging a photographic collection, a recorded album collection and a book collection.
  3. Expose Elderly to Internet.  Expose elders within the selected communities to Internet technology and its multimedia capabilities for the recording and presentation of family-community histories. 
  4. Story Telling and Verbal Skills.  Document community history and experiences among diverse demographic groups using oral history recordings of elders using:  digital photography, videography, sound recording, and web site design technologies.
  5. Web Site Design and Development.  Produce Internet websites with community-history focus as a technology-based civic education tool for these communities.
  6. Mentoring Relationships Among Inter-Generational Groups.  Facilitate mentoring relationships among inter-generational groups.
  7. Increased Understanding of Digital Concepts.  Use communications to narrow the bridges of understanding among participants of digital concepts factored by socio-economic and geographic variables.
  8. Recording of Common Denominators.  Record common denominators among intra-community participants in neighborhoods and communities. 

Program Activities

ConnectDC2000 began in the spring of 2000.  It proceeded in five phases: The Design and Fundraising Phase, the Recruitment Phase, the Training Phase, the Production Phase, and the Post-Production Phase.  The activities carried out in these phases are described below: 


The Design And Fundraising Phase

The design for ConnectDC2000 was initiated in January 2000.  Discussions with the DC Department of Parks and Recreation (DCDPR) focused on a March 2000 launch date.  CAM-FAM III, Inc. was assured by DCDPR that it would support ConnectDC2000 in the following ways:

DCDPR would provide part-time employment for three positions totaling $43,980 for a one-year period. 

DCDPR would become a pilot site for ConnectDC2000 project scheduled to begin June 19, 2000.

DCDPR would identify two computer equipped training facilities in recreation centers located in wards four and seven for ConnectDC2000’s use.

DCDPR would identify two senior programs and two senior facilities in wards four and seven to participate in the project.  ConnectDC2000 expected twenty senior citizens participants. 

DCDPR would provide transportation support (for participant field trips) and telephone / facsimile / Internet connections at training facilities.


A memorandum of agreement (MOA) between DCDPR and CA-FAM III, Inc. was finally signed on June 20, 2000.  However, none of DCDPR’s commitments were fulfilled as scheduled.  Hence, it became necessary to redesign the project.

The project’s summer program staff was reduced from four to two full-time persons.  It was necessary to find computer-equipped facilities for training elsewhere.  Southeastern University provided the project with free use of a thirty-computer training facility for six weeks.  The Historical Society of Washington, DC provided free use of a space for a small (twelve-computer) capacity at the Carnegie Library until June 2001.

CA-FAM III was forced to build four computers (one server, one multimedia production system and two multimedia workstations).  The project paid for field trip transportation for summer participants, telephone and Internet connections at the Carnegie facility.

In November 2000, DCDPR verbally notified CA-FAM III that the MOA was illegally issued and made an offer of $24, 985.  However, this payment was not readily forthcoming. 

Fortunately, significant support was obtained from the Greater Washington Board of Trade.  Members of the Board of Trade providing in-kind and/or financial support included:  Historical Society of Washington, D.C., the Morino Institute, the Greater Washington Council of Governments, Lucent Technologies, Basic Technologies International, Inc., Southeastern University, Pepco, McGuire Woods Battle & Boothe LLP, Verizon Communications, Washington Gas Company, NIS Communications and Computers, the Washington Informer, Marshall Heights Community Development Organization, Covad Communications, Washington/Baltimore Regional 2012 Coalition, Fannie Mae, Microsoft, Clark/Smoot (Clark Construction Group), Blueboy Blueprinting (CBP Partner /BOT member), and Social and Scientific Systems, Inc. 


The Recruitment Phase

This phase focused on the recruitment of the youth participants and the elderly participants for the project.  During April and May, youth participants were recruited, interviewed, and selected from area high schools.  Priority was given to residents of Wards 4 and 7.  Because of DCDPR’s failure to identify their senior programs, the project recruited senior interviewees in July.

The youth participants were required to apply online at the ConnectDC2000 web site.  Twenty-eight youths were selected to participate in the program.  Thirteen of the youth participants were female, and 15 of them were male.  (See Figure 1).  They ranged from 14 years to 19 years of age.  (See Figure 2).  Most of the youths were either in 10th grade or 11th grade.  (See Figure 4).  Most of them had a grade point average of 2.50 or higher, with 8 participants having a grade point average of 3.0 or higher.  (See Figure 4).  The youth descriptions of themselves are presented in Appendix 1.

 


 
 


 
 


 
 


 

The Training Phase

Having recruited and registered the youth participants, the next phase of the program, the Summer Multi-Media Technology Training, began.  The start of this phase was marked with a press conference with Mayor Anthony Williams at Marshall Heights Community Development Organization's headquarters in Northeast DC.  The training phase of the program covered the period from June 19th through July 14th.

The Summer Multi-Media Technology Training Program provided the youth participants multimedia technology training in video and sound production, interviewing techniques and web site development.  Training accomplished through research of various Internet sites and site visits to:
 

  • Hober.com, a Takoma Park, MD, web site design and management company with online radio station
  • Library of Congress Web Design Department
  • National Building Museum Exhibit on Washington, DC
  • National Museum of African Art Exhibit on Contemporary African artists
  • Smithsonian Arts and Industries Building - History of Black Photographers and Photography

  •  
Objectives 1 through 3 relate to this phase of the project.  The training the youth received and problems encountered in terms of these objectives are described below.
    1.  Videography and Still Photo. All the program youth participants participated in a six-hour workshop on digital photography.  They received thirteen hours of training in video camera usage, lights, and logging.  Additionally, they received four hours training in sound editing using Sound Forge software and thirteen hours of training in video editing with Studio DV software and photo/graphics editing utilizing Adobe PhotoShop software.  Digital media produced by the students was done with Panasonic video cameras and Kodak digital still cameras.

    2.  Cataloging Collections. Due to lack of funds to hire training staff, training in documentation procedures for cataloging photographic collection, recorded album collection, and book collection was not accomplished. 

    3.  Elder Interviews. Using recently acquired digital photography, videography, and audio recording skills, the youth participants documented stories of the elder participants in the project. Fifteen of the youth spent three to four hours documenting the stories.  One obtained six hours of experience.  The youth participants acquired sound editing experience in using Sound Forge software.  However, the exposure of elders within the selected communities to Internet technology and its multimedia capabilities for the recording and presentation of family-community histories was not accomplished.

    The original project design scheduled youth training for the first three weeks. Elders’ activities were to begin during week four with interview process orientation and interview activities, ending with "digital stories" orientation session for both youth and elders. 

    Weeks five and six activities were to focus on youth training elders the technical aspects of creating web sites based on their oral interviews.  Week seven was supposed to be dedicated to project completion work, and week eight activities would focus on "end-of-program" activities.

    Insufficient funding to hire adequate training staff and youth training activities presented unforeseen challenges sufficient staffing might not have addressed.  It was assumed that introducing computer based multimedia training to the youth would be relatively easy given their prior exposure to computer technology.  However, the staff was not prepared for behavioral issues that surfaced when the training was presented. 

    The curriculum was very well thought out and should not have presented any real challenges to most of the youth’s ability to learn the material and apply it to their projects.  However, the staff was confronted with the youth’s need to be entertained.  In addition, a significant number exhibited attention disorder symptoms (hyperactivity, stress, inattention). 

    When the staff approached parents of the youth who were giving them problems, they typically were not provided support.  In some instances, drug abuse activity was noted.  These challenges required significant review and revising of established training techniques to reach the project’s goals. 


Therefore, training activities that were designed to cover a two-week period were extended to four weeks.  The elder training activities were compromised.  However, significant achievements were yet accomplished.
 

The Production Phase

The production phase of the project began in mid-July.  The activities within this phase are described below in terms of their correspondent objectives of the project.
 

4.  Story Telling and Verbal Skills.  During weeks five and six, July 17th through July 28th, the youth participants created oral history recordings of 13 senior citizens between the ages of 60 and 96 years using their training in digital photography, videography, sound production, and web site design.  The youth was divided into four team, and conducted interviews of the elderly program participants under the direction of experienced interviewers.

5.  Web Site Design and Development.  To prepare for this phase of the project all youth participants had received the training in web site design and development described above. 

Trainees were divided into four teams to produce ten websites from interviews with thirteen senior residents of Washington, DC.  Job functions for team members fell under these four categories: journalist, web designer, documenter, and support team member. 

The journalist functions included the following: organize information from the elderly interviews, log interviews, gather interview write-ups from interviewers, gather CD from documenters for editing, and edit video/audio segments from interviews. 

The web designer functions included the following: create website for each interview using template; and input text, graphics, RealMedia files (both audio & video) on website. 

The documenter functions included the following: take responsibility for transport; set-up and use of equipment during interview process; perform video set-up and record interview with digital video camera; perform audio set-up and record audio with audio recorder and microphones; perform still camera set-up & photograph interviewee and interviewer; perform lighting set-up; research information based on journalist’s recommendation; use scanner to digitize papers, photographs, tickets-stubs, etc. of interviewee; transfer video, audio, and scan images to one CD to give to journalist/web designer. 

The support team member performed the following functions: coordinates time and locations for interviews, provide fill-in function in case of production team shortage, maintain server/network functions, serve as "on-site" support to documenters during interview, provide web design support to web designers.


The result of the Production Phase was a functioning ConnectDC2000 website.  Excerpts from the life stories of the elderly participants are presented in Appendix B.
 

The Post-Production Phase

The activities of the post-production phase were curtailed due to the lack of resources discussed above.  As a result the following objectives were not met:
 

6.  Mentoring Relationships Among Inter-Generational Groups.  Facilitate mentoring relationships among inter-generational groups.

7. Increased Understanding of Digital Concepts.  Use communications 
to narrow the bridges of understanding among participants of digital concepts factored by socio-economic and geographic variables.

8.  Recording of Common Denominators.  Record common denominators among intra-community participants in neighborhoods and communities. 

Other Experiences

ConnectDC2000 continued program activities beyond the summer.  In September, youth participants produced and conducted a project demonstration at the annual Black Family Reunion celebration hosted by the National Council of Negro Women at the National Monument Grounds. For ConnectDC2000 Phase II, developed a "Writing Your History" curriculum for senior citizens and researched & designed an Internet media station capable of streaming both audio and video material.  Efforts have been made to provide employment opportunities for youth during the school year.
 

The Impact of the Program

An exit survey was conducted to measure the impact of the program on the youth participants.  Nineteen of the youths participated in the survey.  They were asked to indicate to response to a number of items using one of the following terms:  “Excellent,” “Very Good,” “Good,” “Fair,” and “Poor.”  They were first asked to respond to the item:  “How do you rate your feeling about coming to ConnectDC2000 each day?”  Five of the 19 respondents answered “Excellent,” and nine of them responded “Very Good.”  (See Figure 5).  The youth participants felt very good about participating in ConnectDC2000.

Each youth participant was asked to indicate the extent to which they benefited from ConnectDC.  They were asked to respond to the item:  “Now that ConnectDC2000 is over (closing), overall I feel that I have benefited from it.”  Thirteen of the 19 respondents indicated that they thought the benefits they received from the program were “Excellent.”  (See Figure 6).

The responses of the youth indicated that they felt ConnectDC2000 contributed to the improvement of their interview skills and computer skills.  Only three of the youths evaluated the contribution to improvement in their interview skills as “Excellent.”  (See Figure 7).  However, eight considered their improvement in this area as “Very Good.”  Six youths thought that their improvement in interview skills was “Good.”  On the other hand, 12 of the 19 youths thought that ConnectDC 2000had an “Excellent” contribution to improvement in their computer skills.  (See Figure 8).

 


 
 


 


 


 
The contribution of ConnectDC2000 to the understanding of the layout of Washington, D.C. seemingly was not as great as the contribution to the items discussed above.  Two of the 19 youths considered the contribution of ConnectDC2000 to their understanding of the layout of D.C. as “Fair.”  (See Figure 9).  Eight youths considered the contribution of the program to their understanding of the layout as “Good.”  Four responded “Very Good,” and three “responded “Excellent” to this item.

Did ConnectDC2000 help young people understand the past life of seniors?  The findings of the survey indicate that the answer to this question is “yes.”  The respondents were asked to assess the item:  “The program helped me to understand the past life of seniors in the city and the community.”  Seven of the 19 youths responded “Excellent,” and seven of the youths responded “Very Good.”  (See Figure 10).

Seventeen of the youth participants responded to the item concerning whether the ConnectDC2000 program contributed to their knowledge of multi-media techniques.  Of these, ten youths selected the “Excellent” response.  (See Figure 11).  Six of the 17 respondents selected “Very Good.”

Eighteen of the youths provided an answer for the item relating to whether ConnectDC2000 contributed to their knowledge of digital storytelling.  Only of four of these respondents gave an “Excellent” response for this item.  (See Figure 12).  Seven of these youths responded “Very Good.”  On the other hand, three of the respondents selected the “Fair” alternative.

Did ConnectDC2000 assist the youths in developing cooperative learning skills with their peers of different backgrounds?  The responses to the items relating to this question are mixed.  Eighteen youths responded to the item.  Only three of these respondents indicated that ConnectDC2000 was “Excellent” in performing this function.  (See Figure 13).  Four indicated that the program was “Very Good,” and nine indicated that the program was “Good.”  One youth participant responded “Fair,” and one youth participant responded “Poor.”

Concerning a related item to the one above, the respondents were asked to assess the extent to which the “program assisted them in adapting a role on my team and develop the necessary skills to perform.”  Five of the 17 youths who provided an answer to the item relating to this question selected the “Excellent” response.  (See Figure 14).  Eight of the youths selected the “Very Good” alternative, and four selected the “Good” alternative.
 

 


 


 


 


 
 


 
 


 

What impact did ConnectDC2000 have in helping the youths to learn about the roles of journalist, documentarian, and web designer?  The youth had different roles in the program.  Not all of them had experiences in each of these roles.  Eight of the youth responded to the item relating to the role of journalist. Not one of the youths gave an “Excellent” response.  (See Figure 15).  Five of the 8 respondents selected the “Very Good” response for the item. 

Eleven youths responded to the item relating to the role of documentarian.  Six of the 11 youths gave a response of “Excellent” in evaluating what they learned about that role.  (See Figure 16). 

Thirteen youths responded to the question relating to the role of web designer.  Of these 13 youths, all but three selected the “Excellent” response.  (See Figure 17). 

Fifteen youths responded to the item:  “ConnectDC2000 taught me how to make a web page.”  All but three of these youths selected the “Excellent” response. (See Figure 18). 

The learning value of ConnectDC2000 is dramatically evidenced in the youths’ responses to the item:  “Before I entered the program, I felt that my knowledge of web design was (Excellent, Very Good, Good, Fair, Poor).  Twelve of the 19 respondents responded “Poor.”  (See Figure 19).  Five selected the “Fair” response.  Prior to their participation in ConnectDC2000, the youth participants had very limited knowledge about web design.

The youth participants were then asked:  “How would you classify the overall training received in the program?”  Eight youths indicated that they would classify the overall training they received as “Excellent.”  (See Figure 20).  Seven youths considered their overall training to be “Very Good.”  One persons responded “Good,” and one person responded “Fair.”

“Would you be willing to teach other young people and/or adults to develop a website?”  Eighteen youths responded to this item.  Seven selected the highest point on the scale, and 6 the next highest, indicating that most of the youths are very willing to teach young people and/or adults to develop a website.  (See Figure 21).  Only two youths indicated reluctance to teach website design to others. 

The youths were asked:  “Would you say ConnectDC2000 influenced your thinking about your career?”  Their answers were across the board.  (See Figure 22). Three youths rated the influence of ConnectDC2000 on their thinking about their career as “Excellent.”  Four gave the answer “Very Good” for this item.  Three responded “Good.”  On the other hand, five youths responded “Fair,” and two youths responded “Poor.”
 

 


 








The youth participants were asked:  “To what degree can you agree that technology narrows the gaps between people of different backgrounds?”  Eight of the youths indicated that they thought that technology can do an “Excellent” job in narrowing the gaps between people of different backgrounds. (See Figure 23).  Three youths indicated that technology can be “Very Good, “ and six youths indicated that technology can be “Good” in narrowing the gaps between people of different backgrounds.

The viewpoints of the youth concerning the impact of ConnectDC2000 on their perceptions of their career options were ascertained.  They were asked to rate the item: “ConnectDC2000 gave me some insight into new careers.”  Twelve of the 18 youths responding gave a response from “Good” to “Excellent.”  (See Figure 24).  Seven of these youths responded “Excellent.”  Four of the youths responded “Fair,” and two of the youths responded “Poor.”

Were the information provided by the seniors of interest to the youth participants?  The youths were asked:  “Did the information given by the senior’s interest you?”  Most responded either “Good” or “Very Good.”  (See Figure 25).  Six youths responded “Good,” and six youths responded “Very Good.”  Three youths responded “Excellent,” and four youths responded “Fair.”
 

Conclusion

ConnectDC2000 had a set of serious problems in implementing its activities.  Yet, in spite of these problems, a program was put in place that should serve as a model for jointly training youth and the elderly in information technology.  The program had benefited the youth in a number of important ways.  First and foremost, it affected how the youth participants view technology, their future, and their relationship with seniors.  The program exposed youths to an avenue whereby they can make a contribution to their community, and in the process the program gave them marketable, technological skills.  The funds for this program were well used.  ConnectDC2000 should be replicated wherever possible.