Project Development
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TechShop Project Development


The Research

We began in January 2007 with a small Learn and Serve America grant, administered through Princeton University's National Community-Based Research Networking Initiative, to establish a program to engage UW-Madison students in providing information technology assistance to nonprofit organizations. We are now also supported by the Morgridge Center for Public Service, University Health Services, and the Division of Information Technology at the University of Wisconsin. The overall model we are basing the project on is the highly successful "science shop" structure used in the European Union. "Science shops" link university research and technical assistance resources to community-generated projects.

During the summer of 2007, we convened a work group to plan the process for determining what nonprofits want and need from technology assistance provided by students. The group created an initial survey asking nonprofits in Dane County how they use their technology, what information technology obstacles they face, and other basic demographic information.

In December 2007, we sent out the survey to about 450 people and received 65 responses. Based on the responses, the planning group decided to direct efforts towards assisting small and medium-sized nonprofit organizations.

The Plan

In spring semester 2008, a group of UW-Madison students conducted community-based research to follow up on the survey results. They conducted in-depth interviews with 27 of the 65 survey respondents, and found that specialized educational topics and one-to-one, on-site assistance offer the most appeal to nonprofit organizations.

The students presented their findings at a community event in May 2008. Attendees, including members of the university and nonprofit communities, responded to the data and provided input and suggestions for the structure and implementation of a student-based technology assistance program for nonprofits. Our work group reconvened in the summer of 2008 and designed the final implementation plan.

The Implementation

Community groups then responded to the needs survey in August 2008, and a group of organizations working on web project fit best with our current capacity. In the fall of 2008, the pilot semester of TechShop Madison, we had four students and four community groups working together to build nonprofit technology power.

In the Spring 2009 semester, the needs of the organizations and our student skill base led us to select Web 2.0 technologies as our IT focus, and we had 11 students working with 11 nonprofits, including one student from MATC and one nonprofit as far as Black Earth. Students consulted with nonprofits on social networking technologies and similar projects.

 

TechShop was funded by:

The Corporation for National and Community Service

The University of Wisconsin Division of Information Technology

University of Wisconsin University Health Services

University of Wisconsin Morgridge Center for Public Service

The taxpayers who support UW faculty and staff salaries and some student tuition

 

Our Partners

University Health Services

DANEnet

UWUW Division of Information Technology

UW Morgridge Center for Pubic Service