Integrating ITC to enhance learning outcomes

Children in the afternoon Core Child program prepare for a computer lesson. This session, TYO has been focusing on greater inclusion of technology into TYO programming. Thanks to the generous support of the Abdul Hameed Shoman Foundation (AHSF), we have been able to scale-up technology integration across all TYO programs, as AHSF's support has enabled us to build a brand-new computer lab for our women, youth, and intern classes, leaving two computer labs dedicated to our Core Child classes. As a result, all schedules and lesson plans have been redesigned to incorporate IT into daily programming at TYO.

According to a study by the Alliance for Childhood, for children over 3, 'some exposure to thoughtfully constructed media content can promote pro-social behaviors and contribute to learning, especially when a caring adult is actively involved.' The key to healthy integration of technology is creating a highly structured environment with close adult supervision to ensure children are interacting only with media elements suited to their age and development stage. Each day of the 12 week Core Child program, children will be exposed to interactive learning games, carefully selected to hone their small motor skills, logic and reasoning skills, and spatial awareness skills. Learning games from sources such as PBS Kids, National Geographic, and Sesame Street provide children with colorful and engaging games from trusted content providers.

Additionally, while much research is still in its infancy stage, studies indicate that iPads and other tablet devises can be wonderful resources for children (and adults) with learning or behavioral disabilities. At TYO, many of the children in our Core Child program show signs of communication impairments- particularly in verbal access to words, sentences, and conversation. Such impairments are often the result of early exposure to trauma and/or a neglectful home environment, and as such TYO aims to provide the most supportive and nurturing setting possible. The inclusion of tablet devices while working with such special needs children has been really beneficial in promoting engagement and breaking down learning activities into tightly focused steps. Engagement is the key and with children or adults with short attention spans, the catalyst can be technology as it that invites and promotes participation and learning.

For older TYO beneficiaries, added time in the computer lab has proven equally beneficial. TYO's FWEME participants recently completed an intensive three week IT and English course. Women in the FWEME program have been very interested to pursue digital marketing options for their burgeoning businesses. Many of the women created LinkedIn accounts and Facebook business accounts to expand their online networks and increase local brand recognition.  The World Bank reports, 'The high number of underemployed and unemployed skilled women in cities outside Ramallah offers a valuable source of labor and Palestinian internet access is competitive compared to other countries in the region.' As such, TYO strives to provide these women with all of the tools possible to help support and strengthen their businesses.

We've been excited to share these state-of-the-art tools with our beneficiaries at TYO and look forward to sharing continued stories of their success.

- Jessica Dargiel, Deputy Director

This program - as part of Student Training and Employment Program (STEP!) - is sponsored in part by the Abdul Hamid Shoman Foundation.