Tech Time – Skills for the Pandemic World
San Francisco Public Library, Calif.
SFPL Tech Time classes enabled more than 1,200 community members to, as one said: “proceed with the ‘now future.’” The online sessions addressed pandemic-era needs like online shopping, Zoom comfort and even fun apps to pass time in quarantine. Special focus was given to Google Suite programs, to assist parents navigating remote school.
The arrival of COVID this spring closed the doors of the public library and thrust the community into an almost entirely virtual world. Suddenly the answer to most human needs, from socialization to school to shopping, was to "go online," but not everyone had the information, skills or computer comfort to successfully navigate this world. How were parents going to learn the world of Google tools? How were people going to spot online disinformation? And when everything is on Zoom … where do you go to learn Zoom?
Class topics and styles were designed to be approachable to computer novices and relevant for a socially distanced world. Hosted on Zoom and delivered by library staff, the sessions are interactive where possible — such as the class about using Zoom itself, which drew 170 attendees. Sessions fell into general categories, like safety and online smarts ("Don’t Get Phished," "Fake News," "Safe Online Shopping"); practical skills (sessions on Google Docs, Google Drive, Google Slides, Canva) and fun ("Apps for Quarantine").
Tech Time sessions have attracted far higher audiences than pre-pandemic tech classes. More than 90% of attendees said they felt more comfortable with digital resources, would use what they learned and are thankful. “I felt very comfortable with the new knowledge in learning Zoom … Zooming will become and is our new normal and I know I must stay ahead of the times,” said one attendee. Another noted that the library “should be rewarded somehow for enhancing our lives both during the lockdown and after.”