Seniors helping seniors with digital skills and social connection

Image: Dr. Beryl Barratt

Doctor Beryl Barratt left the workforce at a time when computers were not common in the workplace, let alone in the home or even your back pocket. And yet, as an 88 year old retired soil scientist, she’s having to adjust to the rate of technological change we’re all experiencing.  So as banking, grocery shopping and staying in touch with family and friends all moved online at the start of the pandemic lockdowns, Dr. Barratt reached out to a SeniorNet learning centre for lessons on computer technology. Over the past 18 months she has developed skills in writing emails, watching YouTube videos and even scanning QR codes with her smartphone, demonstrating that digital skills can be an important component of lifelong learning. 

SeniorNet, and their peer to peer teaching platform SeniorHangouts,  have been a lifeline to Kiwis throughout the country. For many, these online sessions are as much about the skills they’re learning as the opportunities to interact and socialise with others in the Q&A forum. Now, through funding from, Google’s philanthropic arm, SeniorNet hopes to bring their digital literacy and online safety workshops to 10,000 more older New Zealanders. In addition to philanthropic funding, will donate Google Search advertising and Googlers will volunteer time to enable SeniorNet to bring new audiences to their platform, and to assist with their digital strategy.

Heather Newell, SeniorNet’s Executive Officer said, “As we went into lockdown in early 2020, we realised our face to face learning centres weren’t going to be able to support disconnected seniors in the same way.  After a very special call from the Google team we were able to add the opportunity for seniors to meet online. We were able to continue our work at a really critical time for Kiwis to remain online and we’re so grateful for this continued support and funding from”

Google New Zealand first began supporting SeniorNet with their digital transformation in early 2020. To date, SeniorNet has delivered more than 2000 hours of online learning, and plans to reach more New Zealanders through different languages and formats. As this programme evolves, we’re proud to support their work to assist even more people with the digital skills required to thrive in an increasingly online world. 

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