Get up to speed at your pace

AS THEIR children and grandchildren make increasing inroads into the digital world, older residents are becoming more determined not to be left behind.

They are turning to the likes of Tamworth Regional Library where the specialised Tamworth Digital Hub offers a range of technology courses designed with the absolute beginner in mind – “where’s the ‘on’ switch?” is how program co-ordinator Kevin Harris describes it.

He says the small group and one-on-one courses cater to a person’s ability, but if they need to start at the very beginning, that’s okay.

“Often we find the people who come here have attempted to do more formal courses but it’s been too advanced for them,” Mr Harris said.

The majority of people who come along to the courses, he says, are over the age of 55 and haven’t grown up with the technology.

Rather they’ve become interested in it through their children and grandchildren.

The four-week courses offer an introduction to everything from the internet and email to social media, Skype and e-books. Many return to do the same course two or three times until they feel proficient, he said.

The Tamworth Digital Hub was opened in February thanks to a federal government grant that runs until March 2015.

Since June more than 450 people have completed small-group classes and 232 have signed up for one-on-one attention.

The courses are exceeding their attendance targets and with Christmas coming up, it’s expected there’ll be fresh interest from those who receive techno toys from family and friends, including smart phones, tablets, e-book readers and personal computers.

For Mr Harris, who worked in information technology for Tamworth Regional Council, the job satisfaction is high when he sees his students go from learning to turn the gadgets on to becoming highly proficient in their use.

“I was at a Christmas street party on the weekend and there was a woman there who’d done one of the courses handing out Christmas cards she’d done on the computer,” he said.

“She didn’t know anything about computers before that.”

The Tamworth Digital Hub also won a Tamworth Access Award for education assistance to the disabled, with Challenge and Northcott clients regular visitors and help also being offered to hearing impaired people.

Courses are free of charge. Just ring the Tamworth Regional Library to register your interest.

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