Bridging the Digital Divide
22 Jul 2022
Upper Clutha Libraries partnered with Digital Inclusion Alliance Aotearoa (DIAA) in 2021 to advance the opportunity for free computer classes across a variety of topics and levels to the Upper Clutha community. The Upper Clutha Libraries are made up of three libraries - Makarora, Hawea, and Wanaka. With no computer classes available in the local areas an acute need was identified to bridge the digital divide within the community.
“Digital literacy is becoming essential not only in day to day living, but also in ones’ ability to stay connected with friends and family all of which have a real impact on a person’s well-being.
We had strong demand for the digital drop-ins being held at Hawea and Wanaka libraries. These drops-ins were where members of the community could bring their digital device and get help and ask questions. Libraries partnered up with Mount Aspiring College and under Librarian supervision has a team of 12 tech savvy volunteer students ready to pass on their digital knowledge to the community. It was from these digital drop-ins we discovered the need for more formalised digital classes.”
Partnering with DIAA allowed libraries to access to their Stepping Up Programme. The programme has 38 modules of two hours from topics such as but not limited to online safety, creating an email account, introduction modules to the Microsoft Office suite, computer basics and learning Facebook. Libraries had the space, the Librarian tutor, the course content and just needed Chromebooks for the community members to use.
The $6,395 grant from Otago Community Trust was instrumental in getting these classes underway by allowing the Upper Clutha Libraries to purchase twelve digital devices to support this community in their digital learning.
Most of their participants don’t have a laptop to bring to the course and many don’t have a computer at all. The free to use devices has allowed equal access to the digital classes no matter if the community member has a device or not.
The participant feedback is magic:
"As an older person I have found the digital classes invaluable in gaining confidence in accessing and using programnes. I am looking forward to the class on Facebook - an application which I find intimidating and worrying in terms of privacy."
"I am only familiar with the very basics of technology and I have found Paula's help very beneficial. Paula is knowledgeable, patient, and always cheerful. I thank all for making this Digital programme happen."
"Paula's help has been invaluable. She even teaches us things that we didn't realise we wanted to know, or that even existed. She treats us all with utmost respect, even when we ask the most basic of questions- and often the same one over and over until we get it. Her patience is second to none and I can't thank her enough."