Tommy Westerberg, nine years old, is a fourth grader at Stratton Elementary School. At 2:30 PM every weekday, he comes home to a packed and frantic household. While he may be curious about some of the topics covered that day during his U.S. history and science classes, the family computer is typically occupied either by his parents or older sisters who use it to chat and post on Facebook for hours on end. So when the computer lab down the street from his house became operational, he is very excited. After school, he joins his friends from around the neighborhood in the computer lab and googles a few topics brought up in class earlier that day. Since he’s not the best speller, he often asks the lab volunteer how to spell terms that he wishes to search. After fifteen minutes or so, he overhears one of his friends listening to the latest pop music video on youtube. Taking a cue from his friend, Tommy begins listening to similar music videos on youtube. After ten minutes of listening to music, some of his friends begin to gather around Tommy’s computer and watch their favorite cartoon show on Hulu while making jokes to one another. Since the desk has ample space, resituating the seating arrangements to better accommodate a shared viewing experience is easily accomplished. As his friends begin to filter out of the computer lab one by one, Tommy he decides that he’d like to email a picture he drew during that day to his best friend. He takes the picture out of his backpack, uses the scanner provided by the laboratory, attaches the file to an email, and sends it on its way. After getting all his things in order, he packs up and goes home.
Physical needs: Computer desk chairs, open and comfortable space that facilitates interaction and overseer observation, headphones, scanner, speakers, mice, keyboards
Hector Stinson is a father of four that works two part-time jobs. While he likes his day job, the hours he has to work for his night job are becoming increasingly inconvenient, and he would like to get a new job as soon as possible. So when he gets home around five o’clock, he heads straight to the computer lab and checks the latest job listings. Since searching the latest job listings is not an uncommon task in the computer lab, common web resources for this task are conveniently listed in the favorites tab along with other popular computer lab uses, such as locating the latest tax forms from the proper government websites, checking the latest news stories, and so on. Upon seeing a position he is interested in, he loads a copy of his resume he brought with him on a thumb drive and uses the word processor to make some slight alterations. Since the word processor and operating system are in Spanish, his first language, he has little trouble navigating it. That said, Hector is not very tech savvy—though he created an email account for himself a few years ago, he never used it and long ago forgot the password. Without one of his children to help him create a new email account, he asks the volunteer for assistance, who happily directs him toward a provided tutorial in Spanish that guides him through the process. Upon setting up his account, he emails his revised resume to his potential employer. Afterwards, he wants to unwind a bit, so he checks the latest sports scores on http://news.google.es/, which is just one click away from the web browser’s homepage. After he does this, Hector is curious to try out online voice chat, which he sees his children use occasionally when they’re in the lab with him. Accessing his newly made gmail account, he uses the integrated online calling system to phone his brother in California and converses with him for several minutes with the microphone and headset provided by the computer lab. After hanging up, he logs off the computer, collects his things, and heads home.
Physical needs: Microphone, headphones, Spanish word processor, customized bookmarks, Spanish operating system, accessible USB port, mouse, keyboard
Jill Mars is a community journalist that volunteers at the computer lab at Shadow Wood once a week. Upon arriving at 4 PM, Jill unpacks her things and boots up a Windows computer to work on an assignment. Before long, Daniel and Marielle, two teenagers who regularly make use of the computers, come into the lab and happily greet Jill. Since part of Jill’s mission as a community journalist is to make the citizenry more actively engaged in telling their own stories, Jill teaches Daniel and Marielle how to setup their own blogspot accounts. After walking them through the process, she asks them if they would be willing to take part in an interview pertaining to the current concerns of their community, which they gladly agree to do. Upon finishing the interview, Jill plugs in her camera to a USB outlet in the computer she is stationed at and proceeds to edit the interview footage using Windows Movie Maker. Once she feels that the footage is presentable, she uploads it to her blog then emails her editor to inform her of the interview she has just posted. At this point, Daniel has become eager to make his first blog post, but he wants to include a few photos he has taken on his cell phone to accompany his blog entry. Unfortunately, the images appear overly dark. With Jill’s assistance, Daniel successfully tweaks the photos using GIMP photo editor, cropping them and making them brighter. Once this is done, Daniel is free to upload the pictures and complete his first foray into the world of blogging. Chris, a father of three approaching his late 50’s who is also using the lab, has been watching this process unfold from his own computer with great interest. He tells Jill that he would also like to setup a blog, but as she helps him create a blogspot account, it becomes apparent that Chris does not have an email address. Fortunately, there are printed sheets with step by step instructions for creating an email account in Spanish already available within the computer lab. Once Chris has made himself an email account, Jill helps him finish creating his blogspot account, and he starts crafting his first post. By this point the volunteer for the next shift has arrived, so Jill logs off her computer, thanks everyone in the lab for their time, and exits the space.
Needs: GIMP, Windows Movie Maker, Spanish instruction sheets, computer with enough RAM to do video editing