Cairns Libraries began delivering computer classes to their elder community a few years back. The library runs under the vision of “21st Century Libraries, Learning, Lifestyle and Community: towards a dynamic future together!” With this approach, they have been continuously expanding their library to include more and more electronic resources. With this expansion of their resources, they had to ensure everyone in their community had the ability to access their new catalogue.
The classes at Cairns Libraries are usually 8 to 10 learners in size and run by professional tutors in a welcoming and friendly environment. They are taught through an individualised approached within a group setting, which allows learners to learn at their own pace and enables learning from each other.
Since engaging in the Be Connected program, Cairns Library have had a huge response from their community with almost a hundred fully booked sessions just last year. And they’ve learned a few valuable insights from their senior community. Their most successful class is their iPad group. Vivian Howes, the Librarian, says that most people want support using their own devices rather than a generalised computer class. While in the past the Libraries have offered classes on iPhones, online banking and online security, it is the iPad class that gets the highest response and return rate. They’ve also found that adding a break in the middle of the class has helped learners to open up and create a more relaxed and beneficial learning environment.
Cairns and Be Connected
The courses at Cairns are run by Tech Savvy Seniors, and Vivian says that Be Connected is a perfect fit to supplement and support their teaching. The tutors can easily merge Be Connected into their already existing structure of classes. Working through the registration process together, the tutors then encourage their students to use the site as a resource for continued learning at home. This approach has had a great response from their students with many finding the classes very helpful and accessible. When it comes to teaching the older generation digital skills, Cairns Libraries stress the importance of slowing down the process and giving everyone a chance to go at their own pace. Most learners first need to feel comfortable with their own device to feel empowered to continue their learning at home.
At The Heart is The Community
Cairns Libraries is a community organisation, with a goal of bringing their community together, from their oldest members down to their youngest. Along with their digital literacy programs for seniors, they also run a “First Fives Forever” program. This program targets literacy in the first five years of life and empowers parents to build a strong foundation for their child. If you’d like to find out more about Cairns Libraries, you can have a look at their website or Facebook page.