October 9 - 15, 2016: Issue 284

Avalon Computer Pals (AvPals)

Avalon Computer Pals
Website: www.avpals.com

The Internet and all the many computer programs have not only revolutionised what we can do to communicate, they have added, or reclaimed a vital element of democracy for everyone in communicating, whether that is through Media or sharing images, emails and the like.

Programs such as Skype that allow us to speak with grandchildren living on the other side of Sydney, or the world, allow grandparents to keep up to date with and speak face to face to these family members. Facebook, for sharing images straight from your phone while on your travels, or Picasa to modify, create, store and share albums have allowed us to make permanent records that relieve losing that precious family memory through theft, fire or simply misplacing that album.

Ipads, tablets, phones and even basic Word Program use have been embraced by our older generation of Seniors and those not yet 'tapped in' are encouraged to through programs supported by the NSW Government through their Tech Savvy Seniorsor through local hands on groups such as Avalon Computer Pals (AvPals). Here you can do courses or get one to one tutorship in the basics or anything about to change.

As around 30% of our readership is in the 'Senior' age bracket, with many of our ideas and regular contributions, as well as one of our widely read Columnists being among those who have embraced this means of creating and storing records, it's clear this technology has been embraced and allowed friends to share everything from a joke to news, to announcements that affect Seniors. The Internet has empowered every generation. 

Add to this being able to access the billions of limitless horizons the Internet, and it basis in offering a spread of and access to knowledge, the demand for knowing how to do what you want to do, or keeping up to date with the newest advances, is as keen among Seniors as it is among juniors.

This week we'd like to share a small insight into one Pittwater organisation that offers this service, at a Seniors price!

Our thanks to Gerd Hollander, President of Avpals, for his assistance with the answers to questions.

When did Avalon Computer Pals (AvPals) begin?
In 2000.

Why was it started?
There were already a number of seniors computer clubs throughout Australia, under the umbrella of ASCCA, the Australian Seniors Computer Clubs Association. A group of people in Avalon and Bilgola Plateau decided to set up a local club. The objective was to educate seniors (people over 55) in using computer technology to enrich their lives and make them more self-reliant. They hoped to bridge the generation gap and assist seniors to benefit the community through their collective experience and knowledge.

What Tutorials are offered (one on one)?
Our one-on-one classes run for 45 minutes a week and are student-initiated -- they tell us what they want. But sometimes they don't know what they don't know, and we point them in appropriate directions, depending on their interests. Some don't even know how to turn on their device when they first come to us. But more commonly they know how to muddle through with email or simple web-browsing but realise there is more to learn. 

Topics which we frequently teach include how to sync photos and music on your phone and your computer (or tablet), better emailing and browsing, useful apps, photo editing, Skype and similar apps, Facebook and other social media, data management and how to find things on your device. A few years ago we taught a lot of word processing and even spreadsheets, but that is rare these days, although available if needed. We have our own computers but most people bring their own. We can do Windows-based PCs, Apple Macs, iPads and other tablets, and smartphones of all kinds. Some trainers have even given advice on car satnavs, smart TVs and home networking. All this happens in rooms at the back of Avalon Catholic Church, five mornings a week and some afternoons during school terms.


Brian teaching tablets and smart phones at Newport

What classes and Courses are offered?
A few years ago, Pittwater Council offered us a good deal on the rental of rooms in the Newport Community Centre. So we began running classes on Tuesday afternoons for small groups of people, generally fewer than ten at a time. They are suitable for people who feel confident enough not to need one-on-one tuition. This term, topics to be covered include introductory and advanced iPad, apps for smartphones and tablets, streaming content to a TV, back-up and restore your computer, Facebook, Samsung tablets and phones, Windows 10. Courses run from one to three weeks. There will be a free introductory lecture outlining the courses offered this term, on Tuesday 11 October at 1.30 pm (no booking required). New courses are likely to be offered next year.



Windows 10 classes

How does someone gain access to these?
Our inquiry line is 8064 3574. This lets you book classes at Newport, which is essential unless otherwise stated. Timetables are published in Pittwater Online News and are distributed around local libraries. You can also check our website, avpals.com, or our Facebook page. For one-on-one tuition, you need to come along to one of our registration days, held at Avalon shortly before the beginning of each school term. The inquiry line will give further details.

What is the cost involved?
For one-on-one tuition, there is an initial charge of $25, then $30 per school term. You can go for as many terms as you need, subject to making room for others with greater need. Newport classes cost $15 per 2-hour session.


Everyone enjoyed the session today on using phones overseas

What is coming up in 2017 at AvPals?
Avpals is always evolving, but what we do essentially stays the same, namely helping seniors use technology. At both Newport and Avalon we help people with varying needs, which have changed over the years and will continue to change. People will continue to shift from PCs to tablets and increasingly link these to their phones. Phones are linking to cars and devices around the home. New devices and apps keep coming out, operating systems evolve. All this can be confusing, even daunting, but Avpals will continue to help seniors to understand and make effective use of the amazing technology that's available.

What is AvPals Motto?
Technology: yes you can!