OCASI Community-Based Internet Training Conference

The Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants is an association of over 100 community-based agencies that serve immigrants to Ontario. It provides its members with professional development, technology support and sector advocacy services. OCASI also manages a number of public and members-only online information services under the name settlement.org.

In spring 2000, OCASI hired The Commons Group to organize a three-day member consultation and technical training conference. The conference included both hands on training and policy-development workshops for the volunteer ‘technical leads’ within OCASI’s member organizations.

Client Goals

  • Bring together ‘technical leads’ from member organizations
  • Gather input on Internet and technical issues facing OCASI members
  • Increase the technical skill level of staff from OCASI organizations

User Consultations

OCASI members face a number of challenges when it comes to computers and the Internet – aging hardware, staff training, information management, security. Working with OCASI executive staff, The Commons Group used the ‘Technical Leads’ conference as an opportunity to ask members how they were dealing with these issues. Initial input was gathered through a series of facilitated workshops. Ideas from the workshops were brought together into an ‘open space’ plenary that allowed participants to prioritize ideas for future follow-up.

Project Management

In addition to finding out about technical priorities, OCASI also wanted to provide skills development workshops to its member. The Commons Group provided the project management services necessary to pull these workshops together. This included hiring trainers, supervising the development of curriculum and developing the overall conference schedule.

The Result

After three days together, Technical Leads from the OCASI network had improved their computer skills and provided input that would feed into future technology training. Priorities identified in the consultation workshops were summarized in a post-conference report. This report was used as a jumping off point for the development of additional technical training events and new online support services.

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