Help­ing users into hi-tech world

The Hastings Mail - - FRONT PAGE - ME­GAN HUNT

Tech­nol­ogy is a great re­source to help older mem­bers of the com­mu­nity keep in touch with fam­ily and have al­most any­thing de­liv­ered to their doors.

But learn­ing how to make sense of tablets, com­put­ers, apps and web­sites can be a real hur­dle.

Hawke’s Bay Se­niorNet is one of a hand­ful of tech­nol­ogy ed­u­ca­tion providers avail­able around the re­gion - it’s phi­los­o­phy is ‘‘se­niors teach­ing se­niors’’.

One of the tu­tors Terry Mortensen said when be­ing taught about dif­fer­ent de­vices by a young per­son they of­ten moved too fast or tried to com­plete tasks them­selves, rather than show­ing the per­son how to do it.

The Hawke’s Bay group’s learn­ing cen­tre was based on the first floor of Ni­mon House at the Mary Doyle Com­plex in Have­lock North.

The room catches the morn­ing sun and is filled with desk­top and lap­top com­put­ers for stu­dents, along with a dis­play of com­put­ers from when the group formed 21 years ago.

Se­niorNet is an in­ter­na­tional or­gan­i­sa­tion which pro­vides lessons for se­niors around the world, with the Hawke’s Bay branch one of the first in New Zealand.

Mortensen came to Se­niorNet af­ter re­tir­ing from the bank­ing sec­tor in 2010.

‘‘I could send an email, write my own re­ports and draft a ba­sic Pow­erPoint but I couldn’t do all the bells and whis­tles.’’

He went along to a Se­niorNet course to learn a bit more.

‘‘I picked it up rea­son­ably well and got shoul­der tapped to as­sist.’’

Tu­tors were all vol­un­teers, as the only paid staff mem­ber was the CEO of the na­tional body.

Mortensen said for many mem­bers they wanted to com­mu­ni­cate with grand­chil­dren, or needed to learn use a com­puter fol­low­ing the death of a spouse who had pre­vi­ously taken res- pon­si­bil­ity for it.

The work­shops run most days, with morn­ing and af­ter­noon ses­sions dur­ing school term dates.

Th­ese in­cluded classes on so­cial me­dia, bank­ing, cre­at­ing photo books, Ex­cel, An­droid and Win­dows.

‘‘There’s no such thing as a silly ques­tion,’’ he said. ’’We have all asked them.’’

Mem­ber­ship is $15 a year and $7 a class which in­cluded morn­ing or af­ter­noon tea.

‘‘Any­one need­ing help should make con­tact with us, if we can’t help them we will di­rect them to some­one who can.’’

ME­GAN HUNT

Terry Mortensen and Jennifer Sow­ersby from Hawke’s Bay Se­niorNet.

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