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The IDEA Project finished in January 2010. Community Technology Skills Program continues in Russia within Your Course: Digital Literacy Project under Microsoft's initiative ycdl.ph-int.org

IDEA: Bringing Free Information Access and Computer Training to Russia

The Information Dissemination and Equal Access (IDEA) Project has been implemented throughout the Russian Federation since 2006 by Microsoft Unlimited Potential - Community Technology Skills Program.

The Goal of the IDEA Project 

The IDEA Project provides training in basic and job-related computer skills and maintains the goal of increasing employability and marketability among underserved and disadvantaged populations in Russia. E-skills and the advantages technology knowledge provides in competing for jobs and work-place advancement are particularly valuable assets for those who want and need to improve their economic prospects in our increasingly knowledge-based economy.

Through a network of locally hosted, supported and committed IDEA Centers managed in partnership with libraries, universities and other non-profits and with the support of regional and municipal authorities, IDEA learning centers provide critical skills to the community. The work of IDEA Centers is especially urgent in the current economic instability, large layoffs, and increased competition on the labor market.

Knowledge and skills acquired during the training and their practical application help IDEA Project trainees not only transform their lives but also contribute to the well-being and development of local communities.

Target Audience

The IDEA Project strives to expand access to ICTs and e-skills training for underserved populations such as low-income groups, unemployed or underemployed youth, people with disabilities, senior citizens, and people at risk of unemployement.

The Project’s Implementation

For participation in the IDEA project, Project Harmony and Microsoft select Internet access center locations, mainly public libraries, based on their willingness to participate, accessibility to visitors, geographical location, and availability of necessary financial and technical resources on the part of partner organizations that would allow the centers to join the IDEA Project and successfully hold the Project’s program events.

The choice of particular target groups is made by regional partner organizations in view of each center’s specific situation and experience, as well as the social and economic characteristics of each region.

Every IDEA Center receives Microsoft Unlimited Potential teaching materials and the Microsoft Encyclopedia Encarta for use in training of local residents.

IDEA Educational Centers

  • Hold study courses, training events and seminars monthly, including
    • Sixteen hours of Microsoft Unlimited Potential Curriculum, offering courses varying from Computer Fundamentals to Database Fundamentals.
    • At least  eight hours of seminars aimed at upgrading various skills, relevant for local target audiences in terms of improving their well-being. Seminar topics are determined by partner organizations on the basis of current needs of each center’s users. Some examples include How to Build a Successful Résumé, Job Search on the Internet, Tips for a Successful Job Interview, The Unemployed: Rights and Opportunities, Safety Online, Legal Aid on the Web, Telework, Basic Business Plans, and Opportunities of Distance Education. IDEA Center instructors develop study programs and hold seminars in close partnership and cooperation with local employers, centers for vocational re-training, and youth organizations.
  • IDEA Educational Centers also provide at least ten hours a week of free Internet access to the local community. This time is also available to IDEA alumni wishing to practice their newly acquired skills or receive expert help and advice.
  • Special emphasis in the centers’ work is laid on training of local trainers who would be able to go on and train people in their own regions and expand the range of opportunities for organizations holding training seminars for local residents.

Upon successful completion of computer courses, trainees receive personal Microsoft Unlimited Potential certificates, the authenticity of which can be checked by any employer on the IDEA Project’s web-site.

In 2008 financing is provided for thirty IDEA Centers. The IDEA Project has also been joined by volunteer centers financed by partner organizations, which demonstrates the growing awareness of the need for ICT skills training for all population groups.

The Project’s Development

In 2009 the IDEA Project will be developing in the following areas:
  • expanding the Project's network through launching new computer literacy centers not only in large cities but also in smaller towns and rural communities;
  • establishing partnerships with interested parties committed to implementation of the Project’s objectives including regional authorities, local self-government bodies, businesses, public organizations, and academic and educational communities;
  • transforming existing IDEA centers into centers of instructional support providing assistance to volunteer centers and training expert trainers, who would, in their turn, train end users;
  • expanding the range of IDEA centers’ services including on-location training of trainers and on-location computer courses and seminars for rural residents.

The IDEA Project will continue promoting comprehensive partnership in the field of ICT training in various regions of the Russian Federation and the establishment of an efficient system for training local residents in basic ICT skills.

Projected Outcomes

IDEA Project’s main criteria for success lay not so much in providing free ICT training and free Internet access to local populations as in the quality of knowledge and skills acquired by trainees which allow them to increase their ability to find skilled and better paid work, thus putting them in a better social and economic position.

Projected outcomes of the IDEA Projects lie in personal achievements of every alumnus and alumna and his or her personal contribution into the development of local communities and solving social problems of each particular region.

It is expected that in three years of the Project’s work:
  • 52,000 people will receive training at IDEA computer courses and seminars;
  • at least 80% of the trainees will say in their feedback that their new knowledge and skills have helped them in securing employment and/or professional development;
  • at least 243 000 (650 000 user visits) will benefit from the centers' services, including access to Internet and individual consulting.
Currently 63251 people have received training at IDEA computer courses and seminars, including 21484 participants of 2280 Microsoft Unlimited Potential courses.

Project's staff

Ekaterina Fedotova
Director for Information Dissemination and Equal Access (IDEA) Project 

Responsible for overall project management and development, financial and administrative reporting, collaborating with partner organizations.

Vasiliy Fokin
Chief Information Officer

assists in the technical needs of IDEA Program; provides development, support, and updates for all IDEA related database development tasks; and simplifies database reporting for IDEA staff and Educational Centers. He provides consultation for all database development questions, and ensures adequate anti-virus, anti-hacker, and anti-spam protection and support

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