Mustard Seed, an outreach of the Glen Forrest Uniting Church in Western Australia, has been teaching people in their community about digital technology for 19 years. Church membership is not required - an active “teach but don’t preach” policy remains in place.
Brian Hassell, along with a group of volunteers, says he started Mustard Seed as a means to help his community better function in this increasingly technological age. “We believe that folk in our community without technology skills are seriously disadvantaged socially, in interactions with commercial and government agencies, in entertainment and in dealings with their family and friends. We help people develop computer skills that enable them to function better in this technological age. The need is widespread and the demand is huge,” says Brian.
They teach sessions on multiple devices (computers, tablets, mobiles etc.) and have developed their own website, www.noodlebytes.com, that contains over 200 self-made instructional videos. Brian says, “The Be Connected resources are a valuable supplement to that material. We find that Be Connected is a great place to start for our beginners, and then they’ll graduate to our intermediate and advanced content on Noodle Bytes.”
When it comes to getting your program started, Brian has a great tip to Network Partners who might lack the equipment or a stable internet connection: “Approach a local school. They have computers and an internet connection that remains idle for 18 hours a day. You can often pay a small rental fee and have the opportunity to use their facilities until you can establish yourself.”
The Glen Forrest community have embraced Mustard Seed’s digital classes and the feedback has been immensely positive. One particular learner, Clare, first enrolled at Mustard Seed with a new iPad she was leasing from a telco. She had limited knowledge of how to operate her iPad but was very keen to learn more. After attending weekly iPad sessions, Clare began to embrace the technology - so much so that she now teaches others to use the same device. She marvels at how access to YouTube and web browsing has given her access to so much information and entertainment.
“As many over 50’s like to travel, we’re there to help them learn to record and display their mementoes of that travel, as well as organise important documents and family memorabilia. We also provide guidance to people purchasing new devices and mobile/internet plans to avoid exorbitant fees.” Mustard Seed caters to all skill levels and has a firm belief that technology really can improve people’s lives.