TECH TEACHER: Carmel Galvin with her iPad.
TECH TEACHER: Carmel Galvin with her iPad.

Tech Savvy Seniors flock to classes in their thousands

It's done, kaput, as yesteryear as the analog tv signal, typewriters and 35mm Kodak film. It's no longer funny. You know, the joke about how Nanna had to be shown by her eight-year-old grandson how to use her smart phone.

The Coast is experiencing an explosion of seniors flocking to local libraries or hiring private trainers to learn how to be tech savvy in today's digital age of iPads, Androids, Apps, eBay, eBooks, Facebook and more.

SENIORS readers mayremember that great ad that sparked a worldwide flurry of piano players, "They laughed when I sat down at the piano… and then I started to play

."Well, today the Sunshine Coast equivalent is, "They laughed when I picked up my iPhone… and then I started to text."

A Sunshine Coast Council representative told SENIORS its eight libraries provided one-on-one sessions with volunteers.

"In the last 12 months we have hosted 726 free technology help sessions and more than 2000 people have attended," the representative said.

"We estimate 90 per cent of participants are over 50."

At Noosa Library more than 1000 seniors have taken part in courses since the library's "Tech Help" started in March 2013.

Former Sydney teacher-librarian Carmel Galvin has been there from the outset.

She is a volunteer and she says, "The more I do, the more I realise the need. The demand is huge."

In Noosa the average age is 60 upwards and Carmel says there is an even mix of men and women.

"It's mostly instruction on tablets, learning how to Skype, manipulating the buttons, understanding the symbols, how to attach a photo or send a message," she said.

"One day I was even asked, 'How do I answer the phone? When I ring somebody and the other person answers, what do I do?'"

In Mooloolaba, smart phone instructor Colin Dunkerley - The iPad Man, says business has increased so much he is currently advertising for three, maybe four, new trainers.

He has been covering the Sunshine Coast since 2012 - from Bribie Island to Noosa and taking in Maleny and Beerwah.

"Right now I don't need any advertising, word of mouth is so strong," he said.

"I can't grow any more unless I employ more trained operators and I'm advertising now."

One day a week Colin gives group lessons to two lots of 16 people and on the other days holds three or four individual lessons a day.

He has found that seniors are afraid of doing something wrong.

"They need confidence. They think they will do something that breaks the device or stop it from working," he said.

As well as needing more trainers, Colin said he was launching a nationwide online video course next month.


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