Projects think+act Local Training

Lewisham Irish Pensioners – a 2020 prelude

This post was originally written in 2021 about work delivered in late 2020.

“Getting to know you”

After being approached by Vince at Community Connections in 2020, had a chat with the manager on my birthday, just after being offered and refused a full time job, we talked for ages and she was very happy to have my services. Especially happy with the brief to engage a group of elderly people reach Wayne, their QiGong teacher.

Staring out steady, then to a gallop.

We arranged for a visit in early October to start meeting and greeting, finding out where people were on their ‘digital journey’ to enjoying online services. We all liked each other instantly, the elders being polite even when saying how afraid/lacking in confidence they were.

The second week shifted to high intensity, yet relaxed delivery of devices, email set up, and a ‘rapid response tryout of Zoom’; Kathleen Sheridan (center manager) pitched in as did the chair of the trustees, most warming when an organisation really does what it says. All prompted by the change to Tier 2 in London. This then meant that the group would become socially distanced, and therefore online.

A sideways reminder …

This situation reminded me of the first lock down period in the first quarter of 2020, when the Mycenae House group had been happy to listen to presentations in person, but outsourced any cognitive analysis to myself and my volunteers – ‘just sort problems out’. Getting the problems sorted and setting up before practicing general use, is understandable. When stuck at home with a potential communication tool to access services/buy things/etc. outside in the world, practice with their device (and its nuances, eccentricities and quirks) was their goal and there was time to do it. Maybe a Pyrrhic victory for digital literacy advocacy.

The Friday ‘tech talk’

The sessions were to be in the hour just before their QiGong session with Wayne, this could be a ‘pre-practice’ in terms of being comfortable in a Zoom session, with the hope of more digital online confidence.

At the outset, we were chatting and spending the time just getting people into the room; then decided to go to the session style developed from the first lock down, the ‘sideways reminder’ ringing a bell. Presentations and a chat afterwards were the best way to put some structure to the sociability and definite times to join in were put in place.

Creating some reference points

Presenting and recording via Zoom is a daunting prospect, as a live recording may not be as polished or clear to follow as an instructional video. Inspirations are drawn from TED talks, where the presentation is informative and willing to inform on a fundamental level. In that spirit, ‘straight forward speaking’ sessions were formulated around the concept of the ‘Internet City’ :

  • Getting to know Zoom
  • Email
  • Web browsing
  • Online Scams
  • Digital Entertainment /Lifestyle

Ohh, recording live.

Its hard, but if you have an audience listening it can be no less daunting. Let’s say technical hitches and glitches got in the way of a polished product. Watching and referring YouTube instructional videos can be problematic as a signpost, with language, tempo, audio quality as challenges to deal with too. This prompted the recording of sessions and using them as a reference point – a part of the soulchip ethos of having something for people to refer to, something to take away as aide-memoir or memory jogger after the session finished.

Learning new tricks.

As part of creating video content , it became a necessity to start learning some basic video editing, a skill only occasionally dabbled with; the problem being having something respectable to deliver. Nonetheless, Openshot video editor came to my aid, as a relatively simple and effective application; a perfect combination as it is Open Source, and works on OSX, Linux and Windows, which is perfect. The icing is the YouTube channel of the developer making things understandable.