CSU, Chico News

CSU, Chico Students Use Technology To Assist Harlem School

Date: 04-30-2008

Joe Wills
Public Affairs
John Roussell
Communication Design

Students in the Instructional Design and Technology Program at California State University, Chico have been involved in a semester-long online mentoring project with 8th grade students from Storefront School in Harlem, N.Y.

The project, titled “Seeds of Support,” involves Web-based synchronous and asynchronous meetings to provide students from lower socioeconomic areas an opportunity for meaningful learning interactions with college students.

There will be a live online demonstration involving the CSU, Chico student mentors and the Storefront School students in Harlem at 9:30 a.m. tomorrow, May 1, in Tehama Hall room 224. Communication design professor John Roussell and graduate researcher Jennifer Nowotny will be available to answer questions following the 30-minute demonstration.

“The project is exciting because our students can provide guidance for others who need them,” said Roussell. “It makes them feel that what they are learning in the class has value beyond the corporate boardrooms. And although the mentoring obviously benefits the Harlem students, our Chico State students are enriched by knowing that they are truly connected with other members of society. Thus the program attempts to combine both nurturing the mind as well as the heart.”

Roussell said the project is also focused on the Harlem students’ ability to master Web design. Work is posted online, and the mentors engage the students by assessing their work and nurturing their abilities through encouragement as well as practical technical feedback and suggestions.
The ultimate goal of the project, Roussell said, is to eventually develop a series of Seeds of Support Projects throughout the university community and “at-risk” elementary school populations.

A broad problem being addressed by the project, Roussell said, is that technological divisions in society continue to be at the forefront of communication and education issues. National data continue to show a disturbing trend of drop-out rates among lower socio-economic communities. He said schoolchildren who need the most help to succeed in schools often get the least, according to a national study that tracked local and state per-student spending from 1999 to 2005.

“The Seeds of Support experiences have the potential to enrich these children’s lives as well as help brand the Chico State community as being fundamentally concerned with helping to shape hearts as well as minds,” Roussell said.