A growing digital skills program

27 Aug 2020


STAR Community Services supports the elderly and people with disabilities to live independently. After joining the Be Connected Network in late 2019, the STAR Tech program was launched to support their elderly members to become confident users of technology in their daily lives.

As a team of 15 volunteer trainers, they’ve supported nearly 300 elderly participants to learn digital skills to date.

“The STAR Tech program was launched in response to the growing digital divide between the younger and older generation of Australians. STAR’s aged care clients have made us aware of the need for an innovative program to support them in learning how to use digital devices, particularly smartphones and tablets. Many of them cited that they ‘feel left behind’ as they have not had the chance to get online. Many said they are so far behind now that they don’t know where to start,” says Neha Shukla, STAR Tech Coordinator.

The pilot phase of the STAR tech program was based on flexible learning methods and was delivered via small workshops and one-on-one sessions. In the first workshop, each participant is shown the Be Connected Learning Portal as a resource to continue their learning in their own time. Participants were encouraged to bookmark the Topic Library so they can refer to it quickly. 

“Due to the COVID-19 restrictions, our workshops have been postponed. We have continued the learning via weekly email tutorials, many of which link to Be Connected online tutorials,” Neha says. “The response has been overwhelmingly positive and it’s demonstrated by the referrals for new participants by our existing participants. The word on the program continues to grow in our local communities.”

One of their participants, Carol, has gained the confidence to learn more about the internet at her own pace. She says, “I would have felt very isolated during the stay at home due to COVID-19. I have learnt how to bank online, set up a pay pal account, use Skype to stay connected to my grandchildren and friends, buy things online and eBay. I have also joined Facebook groups that I am interested in. What a wonderful tool when used correctly.”

Another participant, Patricia, has been an avid PC user for many years and was surprised by how much she’s learned. “I did not think that I ever needed a tablet. Wrong! Since attending the workshop, I have discovered a whole new world of radio, TV stations and a variety of podcasts available with just a touch on the screen. I can now avoid queues, crowds and parking difficulties by learning to bank and shop online. Neha helped me enable the ZOOM video conferencing app, and this has allowed our retirement village residents committee to successfully continue meetings. I encourage seniors to take advantage of this informative program,” says Patricia.

For more information about how your community organisation can get involved in this program, visit the Be Connected website.

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