Rural communities often lag behind large metropolitan markets when it comes to information technology. Rend Lake College is hosting a workshop to discuss how Southern Illinois communities are addressing this issue.
"Connecting Our Communities" is the second in a series of eight workshops on this topic. It will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 19, at the Rend Lake College MarketPlace in Mt. Vernon.
The core of the workshop will be on community technology centers (CTCs). Rend Lake College recently received a grant to purchase 15 laptop computers and a cart to transport them to be used as a mobile community technology center.
RLC Resource Development Specialist Trudee Wynn said Rend Lake College recently was contacted by Southern Illinois University’s Office of Economic and Regional Development, which received a grant from Midwest Technology Access Group. The grant provided money for four community colleges in Southern Illinois -- Rend Lake College, John A. Logan, Shawnee Community College and Southeastern Community College -- to put on two workshops each over the next two years addressing CTCs. The May 19 workshop is the second in the series.
"We are glad to be involved with SIU and the other community colleges," Wynn said. "This is a great opportunity."
John Barr, technology specialist with the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity’s Bureau of Technology and Industrial Competitiveness, will be the keynote speaker at the workshop. He currently is program manager for the "Eliminate the Digital Divide" program, through which RLC received the grant to set up its mobile CTC.
Barr earned a master’s degree in public administration from Northern Illinois University. Since joining DCEO, he has jointly administered several technology initiatives. In addition to the "Eliminate the Digital Divide" program, Barr also manages the "High Technology School to Work" program.
In addition to discussions of CTCs, the objectives of the workshop are to create networking opportunities to encourage collaborations, address local community needs with community technology solutions and increase awareness of Southern Illinois community technology resources.
Workshop topics were chosen to address the informational needs of CTC practitioners, community development professionals, employers and educators, as well as health and social service agency representatives, community- and faith-based organizations, connectivity providers and anyone who is interested in using information technology to enhance their communities.
Wynn said workshop organizers have created topics dealing with various aspects of technology. Attendees will be able to attend three of six breakout sessions:
**10-10:45 a.m. -- "Finding Local Resources on the Internet" with Teri McKean of Access SI or "Starting a new CTC" with Marla Harp and Kate Greenwood of Regional Office of Education 21.
**11-11:45 a.m. -- "Wireless Connectivity in the Rural Environment" with Walt Steele of First Cellular or "Connecting to the ICN" with Kirk Mulvaney of Illinois Century Network.
**1-1:45 p.m. -- "Regional Innovations in Communications" with John Andrews of US Sonet LLC or "Community Technology Resources" with Ellen Garza of CTC NET.
Registration fee for the workshop is $10 and includes continental breakfast and lunch. Registrations should be sent to the Rend Lake College Center for Business Services by Monday, May 10. Tours of the Rend Lake College MarketPlace also will be offered.
For more information about the workshop or to register, contact Christie Cochrane, Administrative Assistant for the Center for Business Services, at (618) 437-5321, Ext. 1714, or call toll-free (in-district only) at 1-800-369-5321.