When SCSEP participant Ernestine Quick has finished her day at her host agency assignment, answering phones at an older adults’ home in the Baltimore area, she’s off to a session with Juanita Watkins, a peer coach with the Digital Inclusion Initiative (DII) project of our partner, Family & Children’s Services of Central Maryland.
To Ernestine, 69, being computer-literate is about communicating with a flock of family members and feeling good in all kinds of ways. Mastering new computer skills has given Ernestine fresh confidence.
It builds you up, it makes you know you’re okay and not too old to learn, she explains.
And now Ernestine understands the basics of learning something new at any age—don’t stop trying and don’t be afraid to make mistakes.
Being on the computer gets me so interested that when I get home, I try to do a little bit more and then I remember what they told me in class—don’t give up, just do it, she says.
And by trial and error, I learn from doing that.
At DII, Ernestine has learned the basics of email and online searches. With a computer at home, and coaching by two daughters and a great grandchild, she’s starting to create documents and learning to attach them to emails.
My peer coach said that I shouldn’t stop learning just because I’m not in a session—that I should keep getting in there on the computer and keep learning, Ernestine explains.
And I get so interested in it, because everybody is trying to help me.
Ernestine does computer searches to learn about Medicare benefits and
many things that you don’t know as seniors that you need to know—it helps me learn a lot, she says.
And being online may mean that Ernestine ultimately uses fewer benefits.
Being on the computer occupies my mind because I’m forgetting about my problems while I’m learning, she says.
My health is better. I’ve had two knee replacements, but when I get on the computer, I forget about them. The computer relaxes me—it’s better than television. It consoles me.
Ernestine is spreading the computer gospel to all who will listen.
I tell everyone to learn the computer, she says.
I even got my sister to come to DII sessions. At first she said she didn’t know anything about computers, but I kept talking to her and then she came and she graduated from the program. Now you couldn’t get her to stop learning the computer. She loves it.
So, needless to say, does Ernestine. Thanks to a niece, she’s even got her own page now on Facebook, a so-called social media site where people have their own Web pages where they talk about their lives and interests and make connections with “friends” who have their own Facebook pages.
I don’t look at Facebook every day. But when I do go on, there are a whole lot of people who know me, like my children’s friends, and they ask me to be their friend. In the beginning, I didn’t know anything about computers—but all this has happened now because I’ve learned something new.