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New Mexico State University

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NMSU Launching Teleliteracy Workshops in Rural Areas This Month

ALBUQUERQUE - Business and community leaders in rural New Mexico can learn the ABCs of harnessing the Internet for local prosperity through workshops from New Mexico State University's Cooperative Extension Service.

Free workshops begin this month in six targeted rural areas as part of the Teleliteracy Assistance for Businesses and Communities (Teleliteracy ABCs) project, offered through Extension and NMSU's colleges of business and arts and sciences.

Workshops will provide detailed instruction for local businesses and government officials to begin tapping the Internet as part of their day-to-day operations. Training will also give interested citizens an overview of advantages the Internet offers.

"Whether you're a businessperson seeking to improve your competitive edge and your profits, a government leader who wants to enhance the efficiency of local services, or just a citizen who wants more tools to broaden your horizons, these workshops will help you do all those things," said Bob Coppedge, an Extension rural economic development specialist who is helping coordinate the project. "Our goal is to teach rural communities how to use the Internet to enhance the quality of life for their citizens and increase local prosperity."

The workshops, made possible by a $250,000 grant from Qwest Communications International Inc., include two introductory, one-hour sessions that emphasize the need for teleliteracy in rural areas and the growing importance of the Internet as a medium for business-to business and business-to-consumer transactions.

Two other in-depth seminars, each seven to eight hours long, will be offered. One will teach entrepreneurs more about e-commerce and general business applications of the Internet. The other will help community leaders take a proactive role in developing infrastructure and government policy to encourage broader Internet access and use.

Extension's video and multimedia production unit has developed tools for the workshops, including an interactive World Wide Web site, a CD-ROM, videos, DVD, printed materials and workbooks, all of which will be made available to participants free of charge.

The workshops will be held in six targeted communities from February to April:

Aztec/Bloomfield, February 23-24, the ABCs of e-business
Silver City, March 1, general introduction to electronic telecommunications
Las Vegas, March 20-21, the ABCs of e-business
Tucumcari, March 29-30, the ABCs of e-government
Portales, April 6, introductory workshop for business/community leader awareness
Alamogordo, April 20, the ABCs of e-government

The seminars will be offered in more rural communities as funds become available, Coppedge said. In addition, NMSU will provide materials and a train-the-trainer seminar for business and civic leaders who are interested in repeating the workshops on their own for more people in their communities.

All workshops are open to the general public regardless of whether participants live in the targeted community.

For more information about the Teleliteracy ABCs project, including workshop times and locations, visit the project web site at www.nmtabcs.org.