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Derrinallum Library: A community approach

The Derrinallum Library run programs targeted at beginners to build their learner's digital skills and confidence.

They deliver all of their sessions on iPads, which has enabled them to strategically plan activities since everyone is using the same device. Participants are given individual support to then apply their new skills to smartphones or other tablets. The Library develops their own lessons using the resources on the Be Connected website to reflect the needs of their learners.

Janice, Digital Mentor at Derrinallum Library, says, "Feedback from the community has been overwhelmingly positive. Our classes have enabled digital skills access to a generation who have so far managed their lives very successfully without technology and who would not travel to another venue to receive support."  

Library staff members also participate in the sessions, developing their own skills to support their members. Those who have attended workshops in the library branch have provided enthusiastic feedback about their small group intensive beginner sessions.

Utilising their Activation grant

Derrinallum Library has also received an Activation grant that helped them immensely. Janice says, "Our Activation Grant has enabled us to purchase invaluable presentation equipment.  We use an Apple TV to link the presenters iPad to a large TV screen so participants can see the skills being taught. This is augmented by notes and tip sheets from the Be Connected Learning Portal that are taken home for ongoing reference and shared with other members of the community."

The grant has enabled them to maximise the benefit of resources already in their community.  The Library Service wifi dongles overcome the disadvantage of poor internet coverage and, with the Apple TV, enable their training to be portable. They also coordinate with the Corangamite U3A to jointly promote and offer programs, such as “Appy Hour” where community members meet in their local café to discuss tips and tricks.

A look into their digital class

Participants in their sessions have varying skills and knowledge. There are those who had never been on a computer or smart phone to those who have tablets already but aren't confident they are making the most of them. Beginners are asked to recall learning another complex skill, like knitting or driving, and use those same successful strategies in mastering their digital skills. Despite their background, all agree that they have learnt a lot.

Derrinallum Library's classes start with touchscreen skills using ideas in the Be Connected lesson plans. Janice says, "Photos, Camera Roll and Photo Booth evoked much hilarity as people learned how to navigate the iOS environment, touch and tap, pinch and zoom, scroll and swipe. Stickman and Solitaire have been popular with everyone in laughter-filled sessions as participants increased their confidence in having a go, persisting and experimenting with buttons and onscreen hints."

Several of their learners have now been on the internet for the first time, and marvel at what they can find. They are using a variety of search options to gain insight into their community and are connecting with family overseas. One participant was thrilled to discover a picture of her artistic niece who lives in the UK, and to see for the first time her artwork in her online shop. Another was amazed at the range of information available about our local identities. People are enthusiastic about sharing what they find with one another. Those with previous skills have made the point that they have learnt so much more about the options available to them, the powerful features discovered, and the capacity to personalise their device.

Tips & Tricks

Their beginner classes will be followed by a program of workshops targeting specific skills and content, utilising the Be Connected Topic Library along with one-on-one digital consultations. Janice shares, "We learnt to adjust the pace of our initial sessions to hasten slowly. Lessons are structured to include review of previous skills, a statement about today’s learning, which is then revisited at the end to reinforce the skills covered. We try to find the fun in the activities and finish with a relevant and amusing Youtube clip."

Derrinallum Library's digital classes have reinforced the links in small communities and have utilised existing resources. Janice says that it has taken a lot of lesson planning and preparation, but it has paid off. Coordinating with existing community groups and projects has multiplied the benefits to all. They are now working with other local library branches and community groups to encourage them to apply for an activation grant.

Click here for more information about Be Connected grants.