Community Agencies Access Educational Technology

The School of Management helps local community service agencies reduce costs, extend their reach and enhance their training and education programs using digital video technology.

This innovative educational technology and the expertise of Natalie Simpson, academic director of digital access and associate professor of operations management and strategy, are available to agencies in partnership with the Not For Profit Resource Center, an initiative of the United Way of Buffalo and Erie County.

The technology, digital access, is the School of Management's name for a process known generically as course casting. A conventional presentation is recorded from the attendee’s point of view and that same experience is then made available to a wider audience through the Internet. It’s a noninvasive process; the cameras and equipment are built discreetly into the room so they don't disrupt the flow of information or distract the interaction of the participants.

Several noteworthy features make digital access different from just videotaping a session. When viewing a session captured through digital access, viewers get an interesting sense of intimacy because of the camera frame size. There is relatively no distance between the viewer and the close-up view of the presenter. Rather than feeling like they are watching something from the back of a large room, viewers enjoy the comfortable illusion of a smaller space.”

Another key feature of digital access is the viewer’s control. In addition to being able to watch a session when and where they wish, viewers can run the presentation at their own pace. They can pause it, take notes, slow it down or repeat it as necessary. They are in charge.

In an exciting application of the digital access process, health and human services agencies are participating in a program called “community access” using UB’s digital access classrooms to record their training and educational sessions. Almost immediately after each session is recorded, it can be viewed online via UB’s streaming server and linked to the organization’s Web site.

For more information, contact our Alumni Engagement & External Relations Office or 716-645-3224.

Read what health and human service agencies are saying about community access:

"Instead of holding the same training session each time a new volunteer joins our group, we have volunteers view the training online. Prior to community access, our options were to wait until we had a small group of volunteers to train, which left us little flexibility in scheduling, or we had to train them one-on-one, which was very labor intensive.”

Joan Dutchess Freidson
Program Director, Compass House

"Community access helped us eliminate a great deal of redundancy. For certain types of counseling sessions, 50 percent of the material is the same from one client to the next. Now we've recorded that portion of our training, and our clients view it in a video format. This allows us to spend more time one-on-one discussing the issues that are specific to them. Community Access has not only created consistency in our presentations, it also has reduced agency expenses and increased productivity of the counseling staff.”

Tara Vogel
Chief Operating Officer
Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Buffalo

“Being a nonprofit can limit you in your ability to use the latest technology to enhance the services you provide your clients. Community access has afforded us the opportunity to expand ‘who’ we serve and ‘how’ we serve them. We’ve been able to cut down on the number of hours we put into training and seminars without reducing their quantity or quality. It’s been a great time saver and a great asset.”

Terri Flaherty
Housing Programs Manager
Bemont Shelter Corp.

Community access has received local and national attention in the media:

  • Read a Buffalo Business article about how nonprofits are using digital access to help their organizations: 
  • Listen to a 10-minute WBFO public radio story about how Digital Access evolved from UB Course Casting.
  • Community access has received national attention in the Chronicle of Philanthropy.
  • Business First featured a case study on how the Child Care Resource Network uses community access.