Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Best Practices for BDPA Computer Camps (Los Angeles)

BDPA chapters around the nation are ramping up their Student Information Technology Education & Scholarship (SITES) programs for 2013. One component of the SITES program is a computer camp for high school students that takes place on Saturdays with volunteer instructors.

 One of the fastest-growing computer camps is hosted by BDPA Los Angeles chapter. BDPA Los Angeles chapter president John Malonson recently shared some of the 'best practices' used by his chapter:
John Malonson
  1. Google Services - Use Google Docs Forms to create registration forms (the back-end spreadsheet can then be easily shared and viewed by whomever you'd like to have access). Believe me, it makes the registration process super easy and hassle free. The form can be used to track volunteers and trainers as well. Here's an example of our form from this year --
  2. Radio advertisement when it's time to fill the pipeline - Our students that took us to the #3 spot last year are in or close to their last year of eligibility so it was time to glut the incoming pipeline. We advertised on a well-known African American LA radio station (KJLH 102.3) which led to 80% of our incoming class and indirectly served the benefit of advertising our organization. Here's our Radio script -
  3. Personal Contact - I personally fielded over a hundred calls of people interested in the program even though the registration fee is $125 for our program. To increase membership, my vision was to basically make the program free for parents and students that are members of BDPA (i.e $100 for adult membership, $25 for student membership). If you don't have one already, you should consider signing up for a Google Voice account since it transcribes voice-mails for you and sends them to your inbox.
  4. Class Schedule - This year we divided the program into 2 tracks (Beginner 12-2pm and Advanced 10-12pm). Our advanced track is primarily for returners so they don't get bored going over stuff they already know. Our program runs from Feb 2nd thru May 11th. Then we'll select our team and will work with them up until the conference.
  5. Finding Trainers / Volunteers - This is the most difficult part. General administrative trainers can be pulled from the parent population if need be. For technical trainers, you basically need to be finding and recruiting them 24/7/365. We found a few by joining groups that catered to our technology platform (HTML , CSS, PHP, etc). First you get friendly with these groups, THEN you start asking for volunteers to help out with "a wonderful program that will suit their talents and develop their leadership abilities".
  6. Topics to be taught this year: - Mobile Development (Android); HTML / CSS; PHP / MySQL; JQuery
Hope that helps!
John Malonson, president
BDPA Los Angeles Chapter

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