LSTA Stories: TabLab Mobile, Catawba County

TabLabProject Title: TabLab Mobile

Grant Category: EZ Literacy & Lifelong Learning

About the project: Catawba County Library (CCL) partnered with Catawba County Seniors Morning Out (SMO) to offer iPad training sessions to help bridge the digital divide for seniors in their community. CCL developed fun, interactive classes for seniors that utilized various capabilities of iPads including iPad basics, photo and video taking, Google maps, WebMD, recipes, games, and senior nutrition. The classes were developed and taught with the practical question, “How does a tablet fit into your everyday life?” in mind. Instructors mimicked starting a morning routine using the iPads and taught participants how to use the Calendar application to effectively to keep track of their schedules including doctors appointments and medication times. The classes then moved on to learning how to check the weather and news. “This teaching model worked well and let the students work on their own tablet navigation skills. By the end of the tablet classes many of the seniors were able to get their iPad and immediately start their ‘morning routine,’” according to project director, Phillip Overholtzer. The consistency and the normality of going through a daily routine opened participant’s eyes to why tablets and technology are useful.

Project Outcomes and Results: Thirty-eight classes were offered at five SMO sites spread throughout the county. After each class, CCL staff passed around a survey asking participants what they learned, liked, and wanted to know more about and in the end gathered 415 responses. There was a noticeable change in the seniors’ attitudes and comfort levels with the iPads throughout the course and the survey results reflected this outcome. Trainers noted, “In the beginning many of the participants were afraid they would drop the device or break it in another fashion. Many said they felt as though the world had left them behind because of the rapid change of technology. On the first day of class it was hard to get people interested and to sit down at a tablet, by the end every seat was taken.” Due to the popularity of these classes, 43 sessions were offered instead of the planned 25.

This project was a success on many levels. Not only did seniors learn valuable digital literacy skills that improves their quality of life, but there were many benefits for library staff as well, including the formation of many new friendships. “We celebrated birthdays and expressed our condolences when one of the participants of SMO would be sick or in the hospital. We sometimes just talked and visited after the classes because they had interesting stories or needed a friend. Many of the seniors starting coming into the library to say hello and renew and/or apply for a library card,” Overholtzer said.

Future Plans: Classes are not currently being led by library staff, however, they hope to do so again. In the meantime, a local girl scout is filling in and the teaching the seniors with the hopes of earning her Gold Award by the end of the summer.

For more information on this project contact:

Phillip Overholtzer, Project Director

poverholtzer[@]catawbacountync.gov

This is part of a series of posts highlighting ongoing or recently completed LSTA grant projects in NC. Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) monies are federal funds from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, distributed by population via the federal Grants to States program. The State Library of North Carolina uses a portion of these funds to award competitive grants to eligible North Carolina libraries.

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