To help meet schools’ technology needs, several educators and web professionals volunteered their expertise during the Martin Luther King Day Technology Challenge on Jan. 18.
Part of the MLK Day of Service, the event—organized by the Obama administration—connected schools and nonprofits that have technology needs, such as skills training and mentorship, with web professionals, developers, graphic designers, and new media professionals who were willing to volunteer their skills for the common good.
Some projects were completed on the Martin Luther King Day holiday, Jan. 18, while others will last longer. Examples of needs submitted by schools and other nonprofit organizations included requests for volunteer teachers and tutors for English-language learners and a volunteer instructor to help seniors learn how to use computers.
Education-technology organizations such as the Consortium for School Networking (CoSN) called on their members to help out local schools and districts with any technological needs they might have.
“In celebration of MLK Jr. Day, CoSN was asked to contact its members and ask them to consider signing up for a new web site where they could post school-approved activities relating to technology, and then local volunteers could contact the school to provide their skills and talents to help the school,” said Kari Arfstrom, chief membership/marketing director.
Arfstrom said CoSN worked closely with developers of the web site, United We Serve, to ensure that the activities its members offered would be of use to schools.
“Our president and past president offered helpful feedback, making sure that any volunteers were vetted through the normal protocols for any volunteers who work with schools and students, and that the examples offered were related to curriculum and of the schools choosing,” she said.
The MLK Day Technology Challenge was sponsored by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, the Corporation for National Community Service (CNCS), the U.S. Department of Education, and Learn and Serve America.
“Today, thousands of Americans will join their neighbors in the spirit of Dr. King’s legacy to renew our nation’s communities and help those most in need,” said Nicola Goren, CNCS’s acting chief executive officer, on Jan. 18. “Our hope is that people will make today the start of an ongoing commitment throughout the year to serve others.”
In 1994, Congress passed legislation encouraging Americans to observe the King holiday as a national day of service that brings people together from different backgrounds to meet needs in their community. CNCS was designated as the lead federal agency to execute the King Day of Service.