Studying California Connects

In order to enable the NTIA to collect and analyze data about successful approaches, common challenges, and creative solutions to digital destitution, the BTOP granting program included an evaluation component. The FCCC asked Dr. Blanca Gordo at the International Computer Science Institute (ICSI) to identify the impacts of California Connects and document the problems that participating community institutions faced—and the creative solutions those institutions developed to address those problems. Through BTOP, Dr. Gordo and her team are collecting data and conducting an in-depth analysis of the effects California Connects has on its target communities, and on what elements of its design, implementation, and other contextual factors determined those effects.

The team used inductive, process-oriented evaluation techniques and qualitative explanatory case-study methods, studying the experience of participants, providers, and other stakeholders through:

  • Interviews and focus groups
  • Participant observation of California Connects classes and activities
  • Quantitative analysis of program statistics
  • Review of program documents and initial design

For a selection of the experiences from California Connects, see the Voices page

Defining the Challenges of Broadband Adoption

The depth of digital destitution in the target communities is greater than anyone anticipated. Considerable time and community resources are required to gain necessary knowledge and experience, and most existing teaching models do not account for the unique challenges of teaching digital functionality to socioeconomically disadvantaged adults. The data from the research team provide essential insight into the one of the first state-wide broadband adoption programs for a diverse range of low-income communities.

The research team has been able to…

  • Document the magnitude of digital destitution in the target communities, the needs of the target population, and the capacity of the institutions involved, as a baseline for evaluating the achievements of broadband adoption programs.
  • Develop logical models to explain digital destitution and describe sustainable broadband adoption and digital functionality.
  • Identify promising practices from California Connects as a basis for developing recommendations for future programs.

The team’s findings will be instrumental in the continued efforts to increase digital equality, establishing a baseline for success, broadening understanding of adoption processes, and determining the essential features and goals of adaptive programs.