Cell Savvy summer in California

Published: Monday, October 01, 2012

Consumer Action conducted three Cell Phone Savvy train-the-trainer roundtables, in Los Angeles, Sacramento and Marina, California, for staff of community-based agencies. Consumer Action’s Empower U Project is funded by a grant from the California Consumer Protection Foundation.

As many families prepared to hit the roads and head to airports and train stations for summer vacations, Consumer Action launched its Empower U Cell Phone Savvy training module, packed with information to help consumers make smart wireless choices, whether close to home or while roaming the world. Consumer Action conducted three Cell Phone Savvy train-the-trainer roundtables, in Los Angeles, Sacramento and Marina, California, for staff of community-based agencies. Consumer Action’s Empower U Project is funded by a grant from the California Consumer Protection Foundation.

For the Los Angeles training, held in late June, Consumer Action partnered with West Angeles Community Development Corporation (CDC). Community-based organizations from the Los Angeles area and from San Bernardino and Riverside counties attended the session, held in the community room of the West Angeles senior housing complex. West Angeles is a long-time partner of Consumer Action and has distributed the organization’s educational publications to its clients for many years.

Consumer Action’s Linda Williams began the training session with a pre-training true-false quiz that introduced participants to many of the concepts that would be covered during the day. The activity, in which groups of participants competed for points, set the tone for a highly interactive session. Williams says the activity allowed her to gauge which sections needed more emphasis. It also prompted participants to carefully read portions of the training manual as Williams pointed out correct answers.

In July, Sacramento’s Cell Phone Savvy training was co-hosted by World Relief, a local non-profit serving area refugees and a long-time fan of Consumer Action’s multilingual publications.

The Marina training, held in August, was co-hosted by Monterey County Community Action Partnership, who invited its non-profit partners and helped secure the training site at the Marina Public Library.

The Sacramento and Marina sessions followed the successful model the team used in Los Angeles. After the pre-training quiz led by Williams, Consumer Action’s Nelson Santiago trained participants on the first half of the educational module. Santiago first described the components that make up the Cell Phone Savvy module: the brochure for clients, the lesson plan, which includes the quiz and several case studies, the training manual for community-based organization staff, and the PowerPoint slides for workshop leaders. Santiago included information and tips on choosing the right wireless device, choosing a carrier and service plan, and the differences between prepaid and postpaid wireless service.

Williams presented the second half of the Cell Phone Savvy module. She discussed a variety of tools that consumers can use to help manage their wireless costs. These included cost-comparison site Bill Shrink as well as Consumer Action’s own WirelessED data usage estimator.

Participants reviewed and discussed several case studies, leading to Williams’ presentation of ways to save money while traveling internationally, steps to take to protect cell phone data in the event of a lost or stolen phone, and cell phone privacy.

“I was especially pleased to see how engaged participants became with Stella’s case,” notes Williams, referring to the case study she wrote about a fictional single mother, Stella, who was able to get away from her family for a few days for a trip to Jamaica.

Stella may have gotten her “groove back” in Jamaica, but she was less than cell savvy on the trip. She called family back home, sent text messages to her book club, updated her Facebook page, and more—all without taking any precautions before the trip to control costs. Participants had no shortage of advice for Stella, exchanging lots of ideas and laughter as they discussed her options for dealing with bill shock and anticipating the new expense of keeping in touch with her Jamaican long-distance love interest.

Santiago reminded participants that the goal of the training was to provide them with a model and tools they can use when they present their own workshops. The Consumer Action ace trainers encouraged participants to contact them for assistance with their own consumer education efforts.

 

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