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Why It’s Important to Learn How to Teach Digital Skills

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One of the most important services we are delivering is digital skills training. We’re doing that through both our Internet Intern program, a paid internship program that is now active in 24 Vermont libraries, and through our iConnect workshop, a train-the-trainer half-day program on how to teach digital skills to others.

Mary GeoffrionMary Geoffrion in the CCV Upper Valley lobby. Mary attended the iConnect workshop for two reasons: to gain confidence in her own computer skills and to strengthen her ability to teach digital skills to others.

Last week, I drove over to the gorgeous CCV Upper Valley facility in White River Junction to attend the new, updated iConnect training class (they now include information about tablets and mobile devices). When I walked in the door, I saw Mary Geoffrion sitting in the lobby waiting for the workshop to begin, and I asked her why she came to the iConnect training. She was extremely candid:

“I’m a Vermont Associate, a mature worker who is taking part in Vermont Associates Training and Development, which is part of a federal government program. I’m based at the Rockingham Free Public Library. My own training is being supported with online universal classes, including Internet beginning training. I go to the library and log online to learn and I also assist others at the library who need help getting online and using computers. I applied for the program because I wanted to upgrade my computer skills for my own confidence in the workforce. In the past, I worked at several different Vermont nonprofits and I was always the computer contact. However, more recently I realized that I was not up-to-date any more and it affected my confidence in the job market. The pace of change was so quick, with a just few years of not using computers every day. I felt left behind.”

You can learn more about the Aging Worker Initiative here.

THE INTERNET AT AGE 25:

The Internet recently turned 25 years old and that anniversary was acknowledged by the release of the results of a new Pew research survey on Internet usage. The study found that:

  • 87% of American adults now use the internet.
  • 68% of adults connect to the internet with mobile devices like smartphones or tablets.
  • 90% of adults now own cell phones – up from 53% in 2000.
  • 58% of adults now own smartphones – up from 35% in just 3 years ago

This is precisely why CCV recently updated the iConnect materials to include information about tablets and cell phone Internet use. You can find those materials here.

When Mary heard about the iConnect workshop through the library, she jumped at the chance to improve her ability to work with library patrons who lacked digital skills. “I hope to get my library certificate, in order to continue this important work, by holding classes myself at other libraries,” Mary explained. You could say that her whole career has been about helping other people. In her early career, Mary worked at Vermont nonprofits, such as Southeastern Vermont Community Action and Parks Place.

During the workshop, Mary was paired with Audrey McGuire, the Senior Administrative Assistant at CCV Upper Valley. Audrey was acting as host to the workshop. She was excited to attend iConnect herself, because a large part of her job involves working with people in the CCV reception area. “It’s a range literally from A to Z, in terms of the people I work with having all levels of Internet ability,” she said, “I see that most people aged 20 to 30 are pretty fluent with the Internet. But, I find there are a lot of adults who are not seniors, who are intimidated by the Internet. I work with this group a lot. Some of them even don’t know how to turn on the computer.”

Attendees like Mary and Audrey are typical iConnect workshop attendees, according to the Mary Kay Dreher, the CCV trainer who developed the material and runs the training. She explained: “We created this curriculum about three years ago, as a part of the e-Vermont Community Broadband Project. In the past, we taught to large groups of people. Smaller workshops like today’s are really fun and impactful. We can really get into the nuts and bolts of how this training will help your lives and your work. We’ve really just started to touch on the role the Internet can make in people’s lives.”

The project will be wrapping-up our swing of spring iConnect workshops with one more session to take place this coming Friday, May 30th, at the CCV facility in Winooski. Please join us if you can.

For more information and to register for a free iConnect workshop, contact Christine Friese at: Christine.friese@state.vt.us.

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