BILOXI, MS (WLOX) – Since Katrina, Digital Opportunity Trust USA, or DOT USA, has been sending its tech-savvy interns to more than 300 schools in Mississippi and Louisiana. The young computer pros help train teachers on how to integrate technology into their classrooms.
On Monday, the organization kicked off the next phase of its mission by opening its first computer lab in east Biloxi.
"We felt that there was a need, a call from community members, mostly unemployed individuals that are wanting to be part of a new workforce, which is definitely technology driven," said Nuria Arias, Executive Director of DOT USA.
DOT USA hosted an open house and tour of the Technology Learning Center at the Hope Community Development Agency site on Division Street. HOPE CDA provided the trailer and will help with registration and community outreach. DOT USA refurbished the trailer, donated six computers, and its TeachUp interns will provide the free computer training.
"These interns are very tech-savvy. They're here to support the community members in learning how to use technology in order to empower themselves, to better their lives," said Arias.
Facebook and Twitter are terms and tools that may seem foreign to those who've had limited exposure to computers.
"Kids who go to school who don't have true computer skills might as well not gone to school at all in today's economy and environment," said Hope CDA Director Bill Stallworth.
The program offers four classes: How to use the social media to market yourself and your business, Internet safety at school, and social networking safety. There's even a room to conduct mock job interviews.
"It was nice. It teaches you what you can use on the job when they do interviews," said Barbie Clark, a Culinary Arts student who will be graduating in December.
"We have one student that's here with us today that works with us in our technology department," said Rachel Mercer, the Instructional Technology Coordinator for the Moss Point School District. "Some of the things he's getting to see here is very exciting, what they're doing with the iPad, how they're integrating it with the social networking systems that they're exposing them to here."
The Technology Learning Center will officially open sometime next week. AT&T also donated three computers for the lab. Other donors were IP and Walmart.