Technical skills are not only relevant to the youngest generation. While the latest gadgets are always in the hands of teenagers, everyone must adapt and learn new technology to access everything from doctor’s appointments and health insurance to job applications, online training, public services, and community information. One Mid-State student, Winston, knows first-hand the roadblocks that a lack of digital literacy can impose. When working in the academic field, he “fumbled” when new technological requirements were imposed; the challenge to adapt to an electronic system of record keeping was too much, and he left his position.
Instead of burying his head in the sand, however, Winston is facing the reality of modern life and taking action. “As I advance in life and age, I realize…that for you to contribute and realize your true goal…the computer cannot be ignored,” he states with resolution. And with this resolve, he came to Mid-State seeking help to master the skills he needs to continue sharing his knowledge and managing his life.
Working with individual tutors and now attending a Computer Skills class at Mid-State is helping Winston and others like him to catch up with the fast pace of our modern digital world. Hannah Lugent, an undergraduate student at Penn State and current instructor of the Computer Skills class, develops virtual reality in her summer job. However, working hands-on with people offers a lot of insight into how people actually interact with technology. She loves the “ah-ha moments” of teaching, when students discover a new technique or tip that puts them in control of the technology, instead of the other way around. She sees digital literacy as a way of learning methods to access information, like understanding how to search for a book at the library. The amount of material and choices are so vast; what matters most is giving people the skills to access the specific information they need. For Winston, it’s also important to share and pass on his knowledge to the next generation, and he hopes to work through 4H to help youth who are interested in the agricultural field. But such “intergenerational education” is best achieved by using the programs and apps so prevalent in our current age. “I’m equipping myself to get the message home,” he proclaims. And with that battle cry, he dives into a brave new world.
Learn more about Winston’s story on our YouTube channel HERE.