Agnes Hale taking part in an android tablet class at U3A, Toowoomba
Agnes Hale taking part in an android tablet class at U3A, Toowoomba

U3A Computer Classes

MORE and more older Australians are embracing technology, a trend that is reflected in the growing popularity of U3A's Computer Courses.

On a recent afternoon I had the pleasure of sitting in on an android tablet class conducted by Mr Jeff Martens in Toowoomba. When I asked the students their reasons for signing up for the course, the list of answers was varied, ranging from keeping up with their grandchildren, curiosity, the desire to learn something new and wanting to make the most of their devices.

Another strong push factor was acknowledging that with so many services and resources now going on-line, it was either keep up or get left behind. When summing up his students' motivations, Mr Martens said: "We get some students who feel guilty that they are being left behind in this technological age. Some are given a smartphone or tablet as a gift. Some see friends using them and they see how useful these devices can be for keeping in touch with relatives and friends. Many new students come into the group with a brand new device and say: "I want to learn everything and others want to extend their knowledge and use of their devices."

U3A provides a very supportive environment for learners as the classes are small. The teachers are also renowned for their patience. By far, though, the biggest plus from the perspective of students, is the collaborative nature of the learning that takes place.

Students find it easier to learn when they are able to compare notes with peers, learn from others' experiences and share one's own discoveries. This learning style adds a great deal of enjoyment to the classes. "It's great to see students become more aware and excited when they start to see what they can do!

Age is not a barrier to learning! Learning how to use smartphones and tablets for communication helps to lessen the feelings of isolation and dependence and gives you the sense of being in more control of yourself…Learning in small groups of like-minded people of similar abilities and interests means you can share your experiences, too. This is why organisations like U3A are so important."

The U3A Network in Queensland has over thirty locations state wide.. Computer courses are held at various times throughout the term and classes are scheduled on numerous days throughout a typical week. Some of the areas addressed by the computer courses include Android Smart phones, Sketchup, Apple Mac, Excel, Internet Basics, Apple iPad and PowerPoint.

For more information on U3A's computer courses you can visit http://www.u3aqld.org.au/find to locate your nearest branch.


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