Gurnites might recall the video we posted of the Get IT Together - Nairn launch event back in July 2013. It was a great day and we got a chance to speak to some of the learners and the Get IT Together team. Video here and some images here. Get IT Together in Nairn is supported by BT’s Connected Society programme and Highlands and Highlands Enterprise, and is part of BT’s commitment to help people right around the world gain the skills and confidence they need to join the online community.
Now that the project has been and running for a few months, we thought it was time, to catch up with Project Officer, Brigitte Vallance to see how it has all been going since the launch. Here's what she had to tell us:
Brigitte, how long exactly has the Getting IT together initiative been going in Nairn now and how many people have come along to participate over that time?
I took up my position as Project Officer in April this year, and spent the first few weeks preparing for the project launch and making community connections. From the end of July I have been running sessions four days a week. We have currently had over 60 people receive and complete the free training sessions on both laptops and IPads/tablets. As you know Get IT Together – Nairn can only provide these sessions free of charge because we are supported and funded by BT and HIE which we are really grateful for.
I gather a lot of people keep coming back to help others after they have learnt a few online skills. There’s also an important social side to this emerging isn’t there?
I could not have imagined the wonderful social impact that this project would have on people. Many of the original learners enjoy learning so much that they still come along each week, to both share what they have previously learnt and to catch up with their new friends.
We have had learners who are relatively new to the Nairn area come along and make friends and learn about other groups and activities in the local area.
Have you seen people becoming more self-confident generally with these skills and the options that getting online opens up to them?
Because the sessions are informal and friendly, learners feel comfortable and soon their concerns disappear. I see many learners who had been worried about coming to the sessions, on their own newly purchased devices playing games, sending emails and browsing online shopping site.
Some learners have taken their tablets abroad with them and shared holiday photos by email, something they would not have been able to do before the sessions. Many regularly now use Skype and can’t believe how easy it is. I have emails very frequently from my ladies telling me about their travels or sending me fun messages.
Have you got any specific instances of how the initiative has had a significant impact on the lives of the students?
One couple who are new to the area were struggling to meet people and settled into the Nairn community. The husband has health issues so the wife is the main carer. They asked at the community centre about how they could get involved and they were directed to me. They are now online and love using the internet.
The wife supports and shares her skills with all the learners and in turn has made friends and joined many other groups which were recommended by the learners at my sessions.
Another lady said she loved coming because she never felt her questions were too silly to ask. She had tried other computer courses but they went over her head and she felt she was wasting their time. Today she brought in her early Christmas gift to the session with her - a tablet. We helped her to set up Skype, her emails and downloaded some apps today, and she is looking forward to talking with her family via Skype on Christmas day.
I hear that people make more rapid progress on i pads and tablets rather than through thte laptop or PC route - are these touch devices just easier to use or are there other reasons?
The progress appears to be quicker on tablets because there are fewer actions to remember in order to get the required result.
You can tailor a tablet to suit the individual. if you are interested in downloading books from Nairn Library, you can save the website to your front screen on an tablet. In future, to access that site, you just put your finger on the icon and it will open directly for you.
Apps are also easy to use on tablets as the icons are in picture form. Obviously the concept of the internet still needs explanation, but the ease with which it can be accessed is far greater.
What could any individual, group or business locally do to help Get IT together in Nairn? Are you looking for any more equipment or other practical help with anything?
I think that Nairn is fortunate to have such a strong community spirit and such willing helpful people living here. I still need people to come along and get learning whilst the project is running, so telling people about the project is important so everyone who wants to learn has the opportunity to do so. It would also help me if anyone who has any computer skills at all could volunteer to support some of the sessions that are run.
Thank you to the Gurn@nurn for all your kind support for the project, you are another fine example of community involvement working.