Center offers free online digital literacy classes
MACHIAS, Maine — The National Digital Equity Center is offering digital literacy and computer skills classes online statewide.
Classes are free and cover a range of topics including For Work and Business, For Home and Education, and Aging Well with Technology. All classes are taught through live webinar sessions by local instructors, helping Maine’s underserved populations learn new skills and improve their computer software knowledge, ultimately with the intention of helping to close Maine’s digital divide.
“Digital Inclusion is a national priority in the United States, and increasingly, a priority in Maine,” said Susan Corbett, founder and director of the National Digital Equity Center.
“High-speed internet access is widely recognized as a necessity for full participation in today’s society. Employers, educators, businesses, healthcare providers, and civic institutions expect people to have access to computers and broadband connectivity,” Corbett said. “Digital Inclusion includes affordable broadband; affordable equipment; digital literacy training; and public computer access. The National Digital Equity Center focuses on digital literacy/computer skills training.”
The sessions have traditionally been held in classroom settings throughout the state, but the center has transitioned classes to online learning in response to COVID-19. Students can join the one-hour classes through video conferencing and benefit from live interaction with the instructor.
“It has been quite the experience connecting and educating folks all over the state even when traditional on-site, in-person operations have been halted,” said Robert Hohman, who taught in-person classes in Aroostook County before the pandemic.
“Being able to use web-based tools to help teach in some ways has enhanced my abilities to help educate, and has helped our participants achieve a degree of confidence never before seen.
“Furthermore, teaching from the intimate setting of my home is almost like inviting the participants over for a visit, where they all get to leave after a nice chat and some digital skills practice,” Hohman said.
Classes are designed for varying experience levels, from those new to computers and tablets to more advanced users. Class topics include learning about devices, internet safety, and using Google-based tools, alongside software-focused classes covering topics like WordPress and Microsoft Word and Excel.
The National Digital Equity Center also recently added a class instructing Mainers on how to request an absentee ballot online for the upcoming election.
“The National Digital Equity Center provides the digital literacy skills training that play a critical role in technology and workforce skills development that increase employability of program participants, improve job-seeking skills, and create a more highly skilled, job-ready workforce across Maine,” Corbett added.
All classes are free, but registration is required as there are a limited number of spots available. To view a complete list of classes and to sign up, visit www.digitalequitycenter.org/classes.