Demystifying the world of computers and the internet is the goal of the Port Macquarie Seniors Computer Group, enabling participants to gain practical experience and skills in a fun environment. Group President Peggy McCauley tells us more …
How long has your group been in operation, and how many students do you believe have been involved with classes during this time?
The Port Macquarie Seniors Computer Group was established in 2000 by a handful of seniors attending the Port College of Adult Education. In October 2003, the group became incorporated as the Port Macquarie Seniors Computer Group Inc. Since then, the group has continued to develop, and local demand has resulted in the club’s membership continually flourishing. We have a membership of just over 200 at the moment.
What led to the establishment of the group?
The initial members of the group felt the need to enable members to keep up with developments in the use of computers and technology so that they continue to participate in this aspect of modern life, thereby contributing to their self-confidence and self-esteem. It is still our aim today. It is very necessary in today’s busy day to day life that mature aged people get a hold on the current technology, such as computers, smart phones etc. so they can keep in touch with family and friends and do not become isolated.
The computer is a good way to do this, through exchanging information and photos. We can also download books from the library or internet, deal with banking, shopping and government departments, and use Skype to converse with our friends. There is, however, the very real need to be aware of scams, hackers, and the like when online. This is where a group such as ours comes into play. We can help our members recognise the dangers when they occur, how to avoid those dangers, and what to do if something goes wrong.
What type of classes do you run?
Our classes cover many subjects, including our four Monday afternoons of Computer Basics. This is especially designed to assist beginners to computers and members who feel a refresher would benefit their skills. The subjects cover a look at the basic aspects of the computer, basic word processing, basic emailing, and internet. We run this class most months.
Other classes in our curriculum cover word processing, spreadsheets, computer maintenance, advanced emailing and internet searching, online shopping, using PowerPoint, learning how to manage and keep pictures in order using Picasa, Movie Maker, burning to DVD and CDs, and digital creations – using the free alternative program to Photoshop – Gimp. We also cover genealogy, downloading music from the internet, and uploading photo books to the internet. Most of these classes are held on a Thursday morning.
We are very lucky to have excellent volunteer helpers in all our classes. Without these wonderful people, we would not be able to run as many classes throughout the year. We are currently running around 65 classes a year.
When and where are the classes held?
All our classes are held at the Port Macquarie Library, Gordon Street, in the Technology Room, which has 15 desktop computers, all with the latest technology. We will allow your laptop into class, providing it meets our requirements.
What are the costs involved?
Yearly membership fees: (January – December) $35 per person.
Half yearly membership fees: (July – November) $20 when joining between July and September. Note: If you join in October or November, the fee is $35, which includes the following year’s full annual membership fee.
Class fees: The basic computer four Monday afternoon class costs $20 for the four lessons.
All other classes are $5 per lesson.
What do people need to bring to class?
Members are supplied with comprehensive notes for each class. However, they may feel the need to write something down, so a pad and pen should be brought along. A USB/memory stick should also be brought to all Thursday classes, in order for the work to be taken home. When bringing laptops, the necessary leads should also be brought.
Further information and contact details …
A monthly meeting of our group is held on the last Monday of each month. Venue: Tacking Point Tavern, Emerald Downs, Port Macquarie. Time: 9.45am – noon. Where possible, we provide an interesting speaker. Q & A on members’ problems with their computers are answered. This is a friendly get together in order for members to interact and discuss new technology, or just ‘catch up’. We provide a free printed newsletter to each attendee. Classes for the following two months are on display and may be booked.
Morning tea/coffee is available − cost $2.
Come along − get involved.
If you wish to contact us or find out more about us, go to: www.portseniorspc.org.au
Email us: firstname.lastname@example.org
Telephone: Peggy (02) 6559 7439.
We want to hear from you!
Comments from class members Rhonda Eyre and Alan Gleeson:
Why did you decide to join the computer group?
Rhonda: I’ve owned a computer since the Commodore C16 days. I knew how to send emails and basic things, but I wanted more in depth knowledge and also to keep up with technology.
Alan: The ability to easily communicate with family and friends via emails or social media, and to perform functions such as online banking and purchasing, makes learning the technology very attractive. The seniors computer group provides a terrific forum for learning and upgrading computing skills in a relaxed environment, where members willingly share advice and experiences.
What benefits have you gained from being a member of the group?
Rhonda: I’ve been learning digital scrapbooking, digital creations, Movie Maker, spreadsheets, photo enhancement, how to create a photo book, how to download music from sites such as iTunes and make playlists.
We also have some family history classes and as I have an interest in family history, I have learned a lot about how to research for this, which has been an enormous help. Each year there are new subjects introduced into our classes, which is great and keeps us moving forward. The group’s been great, teaching many members how to keep in touch with family members who may live far away.
We are very lucky indeed to have a volunteer teacher who is passionate and inspiring, and who gives up so much of her time in preparing and researching our lessons. Her enthusiasm is catching, making you want to keep learning new things. We are also very grateful to the volunteer helpers, who assist those in class who get a little behind. We sometimes have guest speakers from banks, Telstra and such, who keep us up to date with internet banking and the latest phone technology.
Alan: Having recently upgraded my home computer, attending several of the computer group’s classes has helped me adapt to the new technology. The computer group’s website contains a large number of helpful hints and the monthly meetings of the group, with invited guest speakers, also presents an opportunity for face to face contact with other members and discussion of mutual interests.
Interviews by Jo Atkins.
This story was published in issue 82 Port Macquarie