SeniorNet: Worth Joining?

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nevilleRecently I was the grateful recipient of a Samsung Tablet and Apple Smartphone from a granddaughter and brother who have upgraded to later models. Both gave me a quick ‘how to’ demo but I soon discovered there was much more to learn. 

When I want to find something out I usually go to the net and locate some free tutorials or the relevant manual but even after perusing these there were quite a few things that still had me puzzled. Realising that some face-to-face learning might not go amiss, I took myself off to my local SeniorNet Bayswater to find out more and to see if they could help out. 

Here I met Neville Creighton, the Chairman. Neville joined SeniorNet about 10 years ago after retiring from being a Secondary School guidance teacher. He had used computers at work and had one at home but wanted to expand his knowledge. On discovering he was well ahead of others he offered to tutor. Being a tutor has expanded and clarified his own knowledge. He loves the creative side of computing especially writing newsletters, the process of layouts and formatting.  

Neville says that what people want to learn when they first arrive at SeniorNet is how to email, search the Internet, Skype and take photos.

Some feel they are dumb; but they are not at all. They are just not familiar with computers. Most of the tutors are of a similar 50 plus age to themselves and the 'students' do like older tutors. They appreciate their patience.

Once they have learnt the basics, if they are willing to expand their knowledge they discover how much more exciting stuff there is to learn.

For example many don’t know about dictation. Neville demonstrated for me how this speech recognition software works on an Apple computer. For people who don't type, are disabled with arthritis or have bad eyesight, dictation is amazing. It's similar to what Stephen Hawking does but what he uses is much more complicated.

Some who come to SeniorNet may have worked with computers all their lives but in a relatively narrow field. In a workplace everything may have been set up for them but when they want to do it at home they lack this knowledge.

For instance one of the new students at SeniorNet was a Senior Executive Assistant in England but hadn't done much on her Apple computer at home.

I asked him if SeniorNet will continue to be relevant for baby boomers and those who come after them, most of whom are relatively computer literate. 

Neville is certain it will be as there will always be further developments and new things to learn.

Recently they had a fascinating talk from Grant Sidaway, the SeniorNet CEO about how technology has changed over the ages, starting from the industrial revolution to recent developments. Grant then demonstrated the latest world changing technology: the 3D printer.

In China they have already built a two storey house in 25 days by printing out all the components and fittings on a 3D printer.

In the medical world if a leg is smashed beyond repair a mirror image of the other leg can now be printed out and attached. Many other joint and body parts including limbs, hearts ears and noses can also be replicated. We may be heading for the bionic man!

And there is some great news for older people who have suffered falls, broken bones and had to cope with uncomfortable plaster casts. These will soon be a thing of the past. A 3D printer can print out a “lace” cast which will mean no more itching and swelling.

As well as being a place to learn Senior Net is also a Social Hub. At Belmont SeniorNet morning or afternoon tea is served after tutorials so people have a chance to have a general chat. 

Will it be for me? The annual fee and small charge for each session is very reasonable. It could be good way to supplement what I can’t find for myself on the Internet. It would also be a way of taking charge of my own learning rather than having to keep asking my children and grandchildren for advice. 

And I’d be able catch up on what’s new and happening in the computer world. I don’t want to be left behind!

If you think SeniorNet might be for you check out the SeniorNet website to locate the one which is closest to you and what's on offer at http://www.seniornet.co.nz/

Read more from Lyn Potter here