DreamBuilder Beta Test Launch in the Candelaria mining community

Written by:  Heather Gayle, Alumna and DreamBuilder Fellow

Heather and Beta Testers from the Candelaria mining community

The first days of the Beta Test went amazingly well; even better than I could have dreamed it would go.  On Mondays and Wednesdays the women are scheduled to meet in the afternoons (I refer to them as “Tarderas”, as they meet in the tarde; which means afternoon), from 330p to 6p.  The majority of my 13 Tarderas are computer beginners.    However, when the Beta Test began, there were only 8 computers in the Infocenter.  My Community Development team had been working for months to replace the computers in the Infocenter; however, the company that they lease the computers from had been experiencing many internal changes, and the Candelaria account continued to get lost in the shuffle of employees.  Although the Tarderas were short 5 computers, the group did not allow such a matter to impede their progress; a couple of women brought their own laptops, one woman always used my laptop, and a couple of the women shared computers and helped each other through the course. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, my women meet in the mornings, from 930a to 12p. 

At first I called this group, Mañaneras (because they meet in the mañana; which means morning), however my women decided to change their name to Las Luchadores por un Sueño, because Mañaneras can have a less than savory meaning.  I have 8 women in this group, and the majority of them are pretty computer savvy. Although 2.5 hours is a long time for a session, I want to ensure that the women who are not experienced computer users do not feel rushed, and are able to comfortably do the program and learn from it.  During the first day of both my Tardera and Mañanera sessions, I distributed  DreamBuilder Welcome Packets that consisted of a laptop carrier shoulder bag, mirror, “leather-bound” portfolio, pen, calculator, and ear buds; all emblazoned with the DreamBuilder logo.  Saying that the women were pleasantly surprised is an understatement; they opened the goody bags like kids at Christmas and immediately started using the DreamBuilder mirrors and admiring the rest of their booty. The first order of business was to have the women who did not have professional-style email addresses create them.  Those that already had email addresses, and remembered what they were, helped out their fellow DreamBuilder participants.  Once everyone had email addresses, the women began to register themselves into DreamBuilder; continuing in the spirit of sharing computers and helping one another.  Those that are advanced computer users were anxious to get started with the program; but I explained to them that I had to approve their registration, and they would begin the course in their next session. Once it was verified that everyone had received confirmation registration emails; we discussed their impressions of the registration process; and the consensus was that it was not difficult at all for those that are experienced computer users, nor for those who aren’t experienced users.  The most difficult part is just finding the letters and numbers on the keyboard and feeling comfortable using a computer. As a whole, the women’s first impressions were that they enjoyed DreamBuilder.  They appreciate Alma’s (Alma is the avatar that leads the lessons in the online program) dialogue pace, yet think that she could be a bit more lively and engaging with her voice.  The navigation directions and buttons are very well explained (Katina mentioned that she liked the map), the novela characters are relatable (Olga commented on the fact that Jennifer, Julia’s daughter was the one to point out that Julia’s marmalades could be an income option for the family), and inputting data about your support system is important.  The only drawback about the program was the videos kept stopping; on EVERYBODY’S computers, including my laptop, which one of the women were using.  So not only are the computers hopefully soon to be a resolved issue, but the internet is one as well.

Tracy Bame of Freeport McMoRan and Alma, the avatar instructor

Four Weeks Later As it is almost four weeks since the Candelaria Beta Test group has begun, it can honestly be said that my Beta Test Participants are devoted to completing the program.  In every session, almost every woman is taking copious notes from the program.  They are serious about the information they should be inputting into the Business Plan and are always asking questions to ensure that they correctly understand what is being asked of them.  Yes, there are a few women who are a bit lazy with the program, in the sense that they’ll first ask me how to answer a question, as opposed to really reading and listening; however, they really enjoy the group dynamic that the sessions offer.   During the sessions in which there was no internet available due to technical difficulties; the women discussed business practices, the importance of having a support system, and encouraged one other.  In one session, one of the participants began to tear up as she shared with everybody the oppressive life she lived for decades, due to a husband that would not allow her to work. In every session, the women enter the Infocenter and go directly to their computers to begin their DreamBuilder course.  Those women that don’t remember the DB site name, copy the website from their DB swag bags.  Even the women who did not have computer experience have learned how to log into DB.  In the first few days of the course however, these women experienced a problem logging into their DreamBuilder accounts because despite being advised to note exactly how they wrote both their usernames and passwords, they did not.  It’s a good thing that that is an easy enough issue to fix as long as someone has “Administration” access of the program. A few women are still a bit shaky on how to enter each individual course, I believe that may be because there are a few screens to go through to actually begin the course, and there is a lot going on -word wise- on these screens as well; so it tends to be confusing to the women.  The women remain engaged throughout the course, and help one another if need be.  A few also have completed a topic or course in their own homes.  My chief duty is to ensure that all participants have an incredible user experience. The internet speed and capability in the Candelaria Infocenter impacts the showing of the videos.  The first few classes, because the videos continued to start and stop, we watched the videos as a group, in order to ensure that everyone did not miss the storylines of each novella (soap opera) character, as well as the testimonials from the female entrepreneurs. As a whole, the women enjoy the lessons and are best practices in which they can apply to their businesses and home lives.  The testimonials and the novela are icing on the entertainment cake.  Several of my women identify with the novela characters of Julia and Lucrecia the most.  They have felt the struggles and joys that these two beloved characters are experiencing. Due to Chile’s Independence Day Celebrations, my Beta Test Participants had to take a week off from their sessions, and one of my women sent me a message on Facebook saying that she’s anxiously waiting to begin their sessions again.  I can’t ask for anything other than that!

Peter Quinn, General Manager Candelaria Mine, and Beta Testers