The Illinois Broadband Technology Opportunity Program (BTOP,) which explored the most effective methods for providing Internet training for seniors, was the only BTOP Sustainable Broadband Adoption (SBA) program focusing on seniors.It is, far and away, the most comprehensive effort in exploring the opportunities and challenges for getting seniors online and using the Internet to date.
The BTOP program was conceptualized and organized by Don Samuelson of DSSA Strategies in Lake Forest, Illinois; implemented by Andrew Lowenstein and Gina Baxter of Connected Living, Inc. (CL) of Quincy, Massachusetts; evaluated by Jim Ciesla of Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, Illinois and funded by BTOP, an initiative of NTIA in the Department of Commerce.
This report explains Samuelson’s conceptualization of the program, the key results in the progress reports submitted by CL to BTOP over the nine quarters of the program: the three NUI evaluations — 1.) mid 2011; 2. year-end 2011; 3. summer of 2012 and 4. Samuelson’s final assessment of the total program in 2013.
These four perspectives provide a rich collection of perspectives on this important demonstration program. They also begin to describe opportunities for future analysis, study and research.
It was apparent to the GSO team that there was still reporting and program assessment work to be done after Northern Illinois University submitted its Final Evaluation Report in August 2012.
We didn’t have the breakdown of the results of the program by building.We didn’t know how many residents actually signed up for temporary “free broadband” during the period in the demonstration when it was available.We didn’t know how many residents signed up for “paid broadband” at the end of the program or from whom, and at what price.
We wanted to know how the Collaborators planned to use their computer learning centers and building broadband networks after BTOP funding was over and we wanted to know more about seniors’ use of the Internet after the training.
Finally, we felt it was important to consider ways in which the program could have been more effective.