COEP Deployment to aid in Cedar Rapids Program

The first prototype Corrections Off-line Education Platform (COEP) - a version of the eGranary Digital Library being developed for use within correctional facilities - will be deployed in a residential facility in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, for at-risk youth and recently-released inmates operated by the Community Corrections Improvement Association.

The program is called Home To Stay and offers low-income housing to ex-offenders and their families, focusing on younger offenders around the ages of 18 to 24. The eGranary will be used primarily to help develop courses that focus on high school completion, allowing residents of the facility and other released inmates to receive their high school diploma. “The project is a collaboration between CCIA, WiderNet and Kirkwood Community College,” explained Johnna Percell, AmeriCorps worker and head of Social and Educational Programming at the Lundby Townhomes Home To Stay program. The eGranary will also be available to residents through the Lundby Townhomes Library – established with help from Tom Immerman, of Kalona, Iowa, who personally donated 8,000 books to the library.

In addition to helping the former inmates and their families earn their high school diplomas, the eGranary will be used in developing technology courses to familiarize users with the vast advances in the Internet and computing in recent years. Percell noted how much people don't realize the rate at which technology has advanced in the past 5-10 years, leaving past inmates significantly out of touch. "Technology has moved so fast, people don’t see that gap in our culture. Basic technology use is vital to those searching for employment, especially with the situation of our economy,” Percell said. Courses will teach the former inmates basic uses of the Internet, word processing with computers, and other useful computer knowledge most jobs today require.

Percell stated she looks forward to the future of the program and other possible applications the eGranary can have in this context, “Technology like this is so useful for teaching computer literacy. I’m very excited about this partnership with WiderNet.”