SAISD and A&M-SA pilot digital literacy help desk and career pipeline

SAN ANTONIO (KTSA News) — San Antonio Independent School District, Texas A&M University-San Antonio and the City of San Antonio are collaborating to pilot a digital literacy help desk aimed and providing access to technology services and support for students and families.

The Connected Beyond the Classroom Help Desk will provide home-based IT support for more than 25,000 students in an effort to close “the homework gap,” difficulties and barriers students may face when doing homework without a reliable internet connection at home in a world where internet-based learning has been integrated into daily school curriculum.

The project was made possible in part to nearly $1 million in grants — $750,000 from USAA and $150,000 from Methodist Ministries of South Texas, Inc.

“Programs like the Connected Beyond the Classroom Help Desk and Digital Scholars Program are at the forefront of digital inclusion in our communities and establish a foundation for increasing parent engagement in the student learning process,” Pedro Martinez, superintendent of San Antonio ISD, said. “We are excited to be partnering with A&M-San Antonio and the City of San Antonio in the Connected Beyond the Classroom project as we influence the future of digital literacy and career paths.”

The CBTC HD has plans to expand the service in the future to qualifying households across Bexar County, according to Dr. Carl J. Sheperis, dean of the College of Education and Human Development at Texas A&M University-San Antonio.

Sheperis said the help desk and Connected Beyond the Classroom initiatives will measure impact and performance on learning and improving academic performance by at least one letter grade over the academic year while increasing confidence in technology use and demonstrating a 90-percent mastery in digital literacy.

The program will also create a talent pipeline for careers in IT services through the Digital Inclusion Scholars Program.

Officials said staffing the help desk will come from high school and university students and eventually family members, including parents, who will be selected as Digital Inclusion Scholars. The scholars will be trained in help desk, customer service, and basic computer skills necessary to solve common technology issues in addition to skills necessary for a career in IT services.

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