Capacity Building in lockdown
Stay In Touch Pty Ltd have been helping improve people's digital literacy for over 10 years, and joined the Be Connected program in 2019. Joanne Lambie, Managing Director, founded the organisation to demystify the world of technology help individuals, small businesses, families and seniors.
In early 2020, Good Things Foundation Australia awarded Stay In Touch Pty Ltd their first Capacity Building grant to use their local connections, knowledge and experience to train 25 digital mentors. These digital mentors would learn how to facilitate an effective learning environment so that their learners can get excited about the possibility of online technology.
In the leadup to the first training workshop, Joanne and her team worked hard to prepare a comprehensive program, but just three days before they were due to start, Melbourne was put under new restrictions which meant that the program now had to be delivered remotely on Zoom. Pivoting a training program at short notice is a significant challenge, but Joanne and her team got it done and successfully supported their first 25 digital mentors.
With the program being so successful, Joanne applied for another round of grant funding, this time for $50,000 to train and support 80 digital mentors. As part of their new Capacity Building grant application, Stay In Touch Pty Ltd proposed delivering training workshops in small groups with monthly intakes up until June 2021. However the success of the previous project and the new COVID-19 environment had increased the demand and urgency to deliver the same project within just a few months. This was largely in part because participants of the program wanted to get their training done early so they could begin to help those who were being left behind during lockdown.
Once again, Joanne and her team had to pivot and alter the program to take in all participants in four weeks, rather than slowly over many months. This was no small feat - but they got it done and thanks to their work there are now 80 more digital mentors who can help digitally isolated Victorians during a time where digital skills are needed more than ever.
Peter Twist is one of the Lead Digital Mentors for Stay In Touch. A Lead Digital Mentor is someone who has been trained by Good Things Foundation through a ‘train-the-trainer’ model to deliver the Capacity Building project locally.
Peter is a keen mentor, has a huge enthusiasm for technology and wants to help others become daily users of computers and devices just like him. As his passion grew, he took on the opportunity to run a social club called “Tech Tips Tuesdays” (TTT) hosted by Stay In Touch. He does this in addition to training additional digital mentors in his community.
Joanne Lambie, Managing Director of Stay In Touch says, “Seniors and Over 50s are hungry for information and social connectivity. Our Tech Tip Tuesday sessions are designed to bring the isolated together each week in a relaxed environment for a chat, connect with others and learn a tech tip along the way (BYO cuppa!). It is not just a Digital Mentoring exercise but also a learning and social gathering for our Seniors and Over 50s. Participants share their experiences, have a laugh; some are relaxed enough to say they are keeping their video off for the day as they have rollers in their hair!”
“There is always great feedback on Peter’s TTT sessions, many saying they do not feel threatened and everyone is comfortable contributing. It is obvious all are anticipating the next session. Peter has been invaluable to our learners. Initially starting with a small handful of seven, we have seen these TTT sessions grow quickly to a following of 50 participants per session!”
Peter enjoys seeing the TTT group weekly, stating “It’s great to observe and be part of the online learning and growth of the people involved. Participants look forward to each week’s session, their weekly email and the weekly topic hand out. These sessions allow us to bring a group of up to 50 participants at all levels of understanding and politely (with some humour) cover not only the weekly topic, but also some individual ideas and thoughts during the Zoom based meeting.”
As Zoom is the medium for the delivery of Stay In Touch’s TTT sessions, all participants have become very savvy with this online video conference software. In addition, the Be Connected Learning Portal has become the home-base for all participants of Stay In Touch’s TTT sessions.
When asked what it means for him to provide help to others through the social group, Peter says, “It is such a rewarding opportunity seeing people learn and see their confidence grow with their digital devices. Lots of barriers get broken down and we are learning there is never a dumb question.”