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Project Plan: Priorities

Based on the site description and interviews with leadership, what are the highest priorities for this project? What components of their technology plan must be successful? What cannot fail?  What must not change even as the project is implemented? Where are they able to experiment or absorb risk? Any focus groups or testing results can be described here, as well.

After meeting with Reverend Freeman, the highest priority for this project is providing the computers for Trinity United Methodist Church.  Reverend Freeman stated that he would ideally like twenty computers – ten computers to be used in a room for older elementary students and ten computers for use by high school students in another room.  Due to the limited number of available computers, we are unsure of the total number of computers we can provide.  Martin mentioned the possibility of twelve computers for Trinity UMC.  Twelve computers would allow for flexibility – two labs with six computers could be created or one lab could be created with all twelve computers in the larger room.  The moveable computer tables also allow the option for repositioning the computers based on immediate need.

Highest Priorities

  • Electrical infrastructure provides only 5 computers per room
  • Building upon a philosophy of exploration for the representative user group as we develop the user testing-both within the questionnaire and the select group of users
  • Provide and prepare 10 moveable computers (ideally wireless)
  • Wireless Internet access for all computers
  • Determine all the hardware specifications for the computers
  • Create aesthetically appealing computers for the site
  • Safe online computing (filtering software)

Uses for the Computers

  • Values teaching (Cokesbury)
  • School projects (Microsoft Office/Open Office)
  • Digital storytelling (video/sound/image editing software)
  • Community/senior citizen email access (Internet)
  • Basic computer access for the community and congregation
  • Connection to partners/sister churches (Skype)
  • Education (ACT/SAT prep software)

As we continue to learn more about Reverend Freeman’s vision and goals for the computers, we can work to identify and select computer software that will meet these goals.  As we continue to work on the project, we must not lose focus of the goal of creating a computing space to be used by all members of the Trinity UMC community.  Keeping this in mind, the technological infrastructure should be flexible and the computers we provide should be equipped for maximum use and minimal maintenance.

Since Reverend Freeman is flexible in terms of selecting operating systems for the computers, we have an opportunity to experiment.  Upon our next visit, we hope to arrange for user testing on Windows and Linux computers.  At this time we will also allow for user testing comparing open source programs and their Windows counterparts (e.g. Microsoft Office and Open Office).  Following user testing, the feedback we receive, and communication with Reverend Freeman, we can make a final decision regarding the operating system and programs we will provide for the computers.

Update at Project Conclusion:

Reverend Freeman’s initial vision for the lab involved 20 computers, however, we were able to provide 10 computers.  Following user testing with two demo computers, a decision was made to use Windows for the operating system.  Microsoft Office was preferred over Open Office by our users. Also, Reverend Freeman wanted to select word processing software that students and community members are already familiar with.  A key element in Reverend Freeman’s vision was to create a lab that is designed to be flexible and mobile as his vision for the computers continues to evolve.  With the mobile desks and the new router, we were able to meet Reverend Freeman’s vision of flexibility as the computers can move between the large and small rooms.

Ultimately, the computers will be used for values based teaching with a religious focus.  We created shortcuts on the desktop to religious websites (Campus Crusade for Christ, Campus Life, Cokesbury, and Bible.org) as well as a shortcut to the District 189 Schools website.  The computers will primarily be used for Sunday School instruction, as well as after school lab time for school students, and open lab time for adults in the local community.  Reverend Freeman’s vision for the lab is still evolving and is supplemented by working with other Methodist groups and community organizations to further help the space evolve.  In June there will be a dedication of the lab for the congregation and the community.