A digital learner's story

Betty had no interest in technology for over 30 years. She left a job she loved when her employer introduced computers. When her daughter and granddaughter emigrated, Betty quickly discovered the internet would help them keep in touch. Avoiding computers was no longer an option.

Avoiding computer technology in the workplace

Betty is 73. She worked for 40 years as a shorthand typist in administration in a district council. Her last job was as a personal assistant to a director of services. When computers began to replace typewriters, she became less comfortable at work.

Betty explains: “I was a typist and secretary my entire career. I think I was good at it. First word processors and then computers started appearing in the council offices. Everyone suggested I give technology a chance. My boss asked me to try but I was just too set in my ways. I’d been doing what I was doing for so long, I thought it was too late for me to learn anything else."

Digital learners' day

“I left that job; a job I loved. It was scary at the time, starting on a new path after 30 years, all because technology scared me.”

Almost 20 years later, Betty found the motivation and help she needed. In her local library she noticed a poster for Silver Surfers’ Day, inviting senior citizens to come and learn how to go online. She saw this as an opportunity. Recent changes in family life  persuaded her to take the plunge and learn about computers and the internet.

Using the internet to keep in touch

“My daughter and granddaughter Holly went to live in America,” she explains. “We’re a very close family and the idea of not seeing them regularly was terrible. My family  talked about how they could ‘Skype’ to keep in touch but I had no idea what they were talking about.

“They showed me their tablet and explained how they could use it to talk to me and see me. I thought it was wonderful! I bought my own tablet immediately so I’d be able to keep in touch with Holly. The tablet was expensive but I knew it would be worth it to see Holly and her mum.”

Learning a new skill

With a little help, Betty was soon chatting to Holly face to face even though they were almost three thousand miles apart. Betty said: “It was absolutely wonderful, the picture and sound were so clear it was like she was in the room!”

Being comfortable and in control using the internet

It was so easy to keep in touch, Betty had to remember the time zone difference.

“I usually had a regular time on a Saturday afternoon to ring but one morning I was at a loose end and thought I’d Skype them. They picked up but I could see they were still in bed. I said, "Why are you in bed at this time of day?’ Holly answered, ‘Grandma, it’s four o’clock in the morning here!’ I don’t think she was too impressed!”

Returning to learn

“Being able to keep in touch with Holly means the world to me. I always thought technology wasn’t for me, even if it meant leaving a job. Now I don’t know how I’d manage without it. It’s never too late to learn!”

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