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About the program > History IATP

History IATP

The Internet Access and Training Program (IATP) was founded to provide alumni of educational exchange programs financed by the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) a means to communicate with American colleagues after returning to Russia. While this goal has remained unchanged, and while alumni of ECA programs remain the primary target audience for the program, other components have been added to the program mission over the past seven years. Today's IATP also targets Russian educators for Internet trainings. The mission of the IATP program is to foster the growth of vibrant Russian Internet communities by providing resources and developing skills of local citizens to engage in the global Internet community.

In May 1999, Project Harmony began administering the IATP, inheriting 32 public access Internet centers across the Russian Federation, opened since the program began in 1996. Over the past three years, Project Harmony has upgraded the original centers into multimedia classrooms and emphasized content-based lessons over access alone. The current number of centers has grown to over 70 and has spread across 47 communities. By providing specialized seminars and training programs for computer users, Project Harmony seeks to ensure that people can use the resources of the Internet at their full potential.

In its work in the IATP, Project Harmony emphasizes developing Russian-language Internet resources and training educators and alumni of U.S. government exchange programs. Since beginning its work on the IATP, Project Harmony has conducted numerous conferences and educational events including:

  • Opening over 30 new open access Internet centers, doubling the size of the network.
  • Facilitating over 1 million free Internet access sessions since January 2002 through the public access centers.
  • Building a network between IATP centers and specialists in over 35 Russian cities.
  • Conducting training for over 3,000 ECA exchange program alumni.
  • Creating a network of educational coordinators in cities across the Russian Federation to promote the use of the Internet as an educational tool among ECA alumni and educators. These coordinators have trained over 1,500 individuals in using Internet technology.
  • Training over 30,000 individuals during training sessions, thematic seminars and other events at IATP centers.
  • Administering eight grant competitions (Alumni 2001, IATP Center 2001, Tomsk Oblast 2001, Republic of Mari El 2001, Prize Competition 2001, Thinkquest 2001, Webstart 2000, Minigrant 2000,) with a combined fund of $365,000 to support the creation of Russian-language Internet resources.
  • Holding a two-week summer training on web design for 30 young alumni of ECA exchange programs.
  • Organizing four regional educational conferences to bring together members of oblast administrations and local educators for training and to promote the use of the Internet in the classroom.
  • Implementing two distance-learning courses in 2000 and 2001 thereby training over 30 educators to use DL with an emphasis on application.
  • Conducting a conference marking the end of IATP phase two to solidify the network of IATP center coordinators and plan strategies for the third phase.

IATP activities in the field of education include cooperation with nation-wide Russian Internet education initiatives, such as the RELARN Conferences for Regional Scientific-Educational Networks, and the "@ugust-pedsovet", an Internet Forum for the August Council for Teachers. The IATP web site also hosts a series of educational forums open to the public. These "Educational Initiatives" allow IATP partners, educators and interested Internet-users across Russia to maintain an open dialogue. Russian and American educators can discuss professional topics like "The Experience of Russian and American Schools" or "The Internet in Libraries" online.

The IATP also supports and distributes a wealth of materials related to Internet resources and methodology. Twice a month, IATP edits and issues an electronic journal "Internet for ALL!", which brings educational topics to more than 500 subscribers in Russian libraries, universities, schools and NGOs. IATP publications on Internet education are regularly posted to the site. Among these publications are: Grant-making Foundations and Charity Organizations on the Internet, Russian-language History Resources on the Internet, Mass Media on the Internet, The Internet Resources Handbook, The Internet for Lawyers, and The Internet in Local Administration. The latest IATP publication, A Golden Fish in the Net, appeared in 2001. The book is a compilation of the results of a contest for the best Internet lesson plans, prepared by Russian teachers.

Behind these statistics and events, though, are the experiences of individuals within the program. Danil Odegov, Freedom Support Act Undergraduate Program alumnus from the central Siberian city of Barnaul, explained, "Due to the participation in IATP Program I was able to gain new knowledge about the Internet and web projects management that are of tremendous importance to myself and to the community I live in. Since then I have been dealing with the Internet not only as a person who actually sells Internet services and manages web-projects, but also from a social point of view. We should take all the possible efforts to provide Russian people with the knowledge to fully use the Web and the opportunity to have the Internet access despite economic and social status of the person. Only in this case we will have the well-informed informational society and better economy. IATP greatly influenced me in this way, and I believe it makes a great impact on other people especially in the educational sphere."

 

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