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A New York State Cornell Cooperative Extension project for children, youth, and families is implementing electronic connectivity or Internet access to support the development of computer literacy among staff and program participants and to promote positive program outcomes in communities at risk. Reducing Risks and Increasing Capacity (RRIC) is a 5-year annually renewable Cooperative State Research Education and Extension Service (CSREES) and U.S. Department of Agriculture State Strengthening Project now in its fourth year of funding. The project supports eight targeted New York State community programs located in Chemung, Jefferson, Monroe, Oneida, Onondaga, Orange, St. Lawrence, and Tompkins counties; each program is led by a professional Extension educator. Through connectivity, volunteer and salaried educators can locate educational and other program and fund development resources. Internet access supports communication among multiple sites in a community project, among the eight New York State RRIC-targeted community programs, and across all parts of the RRIC project. Electronic mail and listservs are used for communication and information sharing. Connectivity allows all sites and the state project staff to interact on sustainability issues. The project has ongoing formative and summative evaluation strategies in place, including evaluation of Internet use. The RRIC project strives to tap the potential of the Internet to strengthen program outcomes and to integrate technology, wherever possible, within the educational activities conducted. A baseline and follow-up study were conducted on Internet use. Data on expectations of educators, volunteers, and collaborators for use of the Internet were gathered. Preliminary findings from the Year 1 follow-up survey include large gains in use of the Web for program support and increased project communication. Experiences in designing and supporting the computer applications of the project are detailed. (LPP)

Descriptors: Community Programs, Computer Literacy, Computer Mediated Communication, Computer Networks, Computer Uses in Education, Electronic Mail, Extension Education, Information Seeking, Internet, Partnerships in Education, Technology Integration, Training

Autor: Swanson, Josephine A.; Mead, June P.; Haugan, Heidi L.


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