Dozens of children and community residents descended upon the Emerald Lakes Community Center for the opening of a computer lab that gives the private community’s more than 3000 residents access to computers, training, and broadband Internet services.
The computer lab is a pilot project using technology to enhance intergenerational educational opportunities and build synergy between the community and the school district. The lab was developed and equipped jointly by the Pocono Mountain School District (PMSD), the Emerald Lakes Association (ELA), and Enosis – the Broadband Facilitators, a service of the Pocono Mountains Economic Development Corporation (PMEDC).
“The partnership between the Emerald Lakes Association, Enosis, and the Pocono Mountain School District demonstrably links technological resources with members of the community,” says PMSD Superintendent Dr. Dwight Pfennig.
“Be it an afterschool research project, a real time on-line experience, or a hands-on introduction to the world of the Internet, members of all ages will have better access to a most critical resource. The partnership also serves as a pilot for future partnerships as the scope of public education expands exponentially through technology.”
According to ELA Recreation Director Don Alvarez, the lab features 10 unique workstations and will be open daily from 7 a.m. until approximately 10 p.m. Students will have exclusive access from 7 – 9 a.m. for pre-school programs and again from 2 – 6 p.m. All community residents will have access at all other times.
Alvarez expects to initiate training classes for adults and seniors ranging from basic computer functions like how to send and receive e-mail or download pictures to digital imaging and Microsoft Office classes.
“It’s going to open up a world of opportunity and bring our residents into the new tech age,” say Alvarez. “We notice that many seniors are intimidated by computers. With this lab, we can help them learn. It’ll also bridge intergenerational gaps, because high school and college student volunteers will be helping the adults learn.
Computers for the pilot project were provided by the PMSD, while the remaining funds were secured by PMEDC through Pennsylvania’s Broadband Outreach and Aggregation Fund. According to PMEDC Executive Director Chuck Leonard, the BOAF fund focused on aggregating demand and facilitating business and scholastic use of broadband Internet services in Monroe County.
“When we received the BOAF planning grant, we worked with our consultants, Dellicker Strategies, to identify specific projects when this wonderful opportunity presented itself,” says Leonard.
“We are so pleased to see the Computer Lab up and running and in the future would hope to see this pilot project duplicated in other gated communities.”
Enosis – a name drawn from the Greek word referring to union between communities – was developed as a result of Pennsylvania Act 183, the Broadband Outreach and Aggregation Fund (BOAF) and E-Fund Implementation. Under the guidelines provided by the act, the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development (DCED)’s Technology Investment Office provided the funds to initiate local programs concerning the benefits, use and acquisition of broadband services and aggregating – or combining – customer demand.