Group Recovery Aftercare Community Enterprise
Charity registered in Scotland SC043551
- From 20th November 2015 to 11th November 2016
- Award: £9,200 via Call 3
Our aim at G.R.A.C.E is to establish a Digital Well Being Cafe within Hillhead Community Centre from where we currently deliver our services. In recognition of our clients’ needs and the ongoing societal demands for digital literacy we have an urgent need to establish an IT suite through which we can offer supported digital literacy learning workshops to adults who have become socially incapacitated or isolated through traumatic life events, mental health issues, poverty, unemployment & poor socioeconomic placing, and or, addiction related issues. The IT suite will be available throughout the working week for members to use.
The key aims we need to meet through implementing our Digital Well Being Cafe are:
• To furnish participants with a digital literacy skills foundation that will:
• Encourage self-directed endeavour utilising digital technologies
• Promote confidence in engaging with digital based social mediums and communities
• Build and promote confidence in using digital technologies as a way of engaging with others and thereby reduce social isolation and exclusion and promote social capacity
• Reduce anxiety and promote confident engagement with today’s high tech society with particular focus on understanding and accessing benefits through online government services such as Universal Credit & Job Search
• Enable self-supported problem solving in the use of and engagement with digital technology and the digital world
• Empower individuals with a sound grasp of terminology and jargon relating to digital technologies and mediums
• Enable greater understanding and communication within the family setting when dealing with digital technology and related mediums, particularly between parent and child
• Find people better placed to move onto positive destinations in relation to education, training and or employment
In addition to training on laptops we will explore other technologies such as phones, tablets, midi controllers, cameras etc.
Visiting facilitator Rikki Traynor will conduct digital literacy workshops offering personal tuition and group lead digital based learning activities. Rikki has over two years’ experience in working with G.R.A.C.E and has the unique attributes that afford him the ability to nurture and support a person on a recovery journey, whilst possessing industry recognised IT skills and an ability to teach such in a way that is appropriate and accessible to all those who engage with G.R.A.C.E
For G.R.A.C.E it is all about providing services and training which develop people’s ability to prevent themselves from reaching crisis point and relapsing. This innovative project is not just about individuals developing digital literacy skills. The digital cafe will be implemented to work in tandem with our other projects and services. This project is about empowerment and it is about supporting people as they seek to achieve full independence in life. It is about enabling individuals to play their part in shaping the world that is shaping them.
In late November 2015 G.R.A.C.E was in a period of transition with quite a few regular participants moving on to pastures new and quite a few new comers engaging with G.R.A.C.E for the first time. With this and the onset of Christmas approaching we felt it best to delay our start to early January of the new year.
Milestone One January – March 2016
Weeks 1 to 4; ‘The Wrong Browsers’
Over this initial four week period many puns, jokes have been made about ‘The Wrong Browsers’ and through humour we have ventured forth as a group to explore which browsers best fit our individual needs. Initial group discussions revealed a great deal of confusion with regards to terminology and understanding of what the internet is and how best to access it.
The analogy of comparing the internet to one library with many different entrances best suited our purpose. We explored this idea in depth, looking at three main entrances, and how the same library, ‘the internet’ was presented differently when entered via:
Mozilla Firefox Internet Explorer Google Chrome
We also explored the idea that each library entrance presented a number of assistants to help us navigate the library i.e. search engines:
Bing Yahoo Google
The following is an example of a simple quiz sheet we used to spark exploration and discussion that focused on each browsers characteristics and strengths and weaknesses:
Use Mozilla to find the answer to the following three questions, cut and paste your answers into the spaces below each question:
• When was Mozilla launched?
• What is tech house?
• When was the first message sent by email?
Use Internet Explorer to find the answer to the following three questions, cut and paste your answers into the spaces below each question:
• When was Internet Explorer launched?
• Who was the last person on the moon?
• How do you enter safe mode?
Use Google Chrome to find the answer to the following three questions, cut and paste your answers into the spaces below each question:
• When was Google Chrome launched?
• How much is 23.50 euros in sterling?
• Who published the first ever web page and in what year?
Simple quizzes like this have been brilliant for introducing more challenging problems to the group for example: Although each laptop had Internet Explorer readily installed we had to download and install both Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox before setting off on this quiz.
As a group, we had to identify, download and install a suitable office package… In this case Apache Open Office, an open source package which is free and very similar in nature, and interchangeable with, Microsoft Office. This exercise also allowed us to introduce simple shortcuts and techniques for lifting information from one medium to another.
Weeks 5 to 10
Tailoring our Browsers for a Better Fit
These weeks were spent fully exploring the nuts and bolts of the three browsers and how best we can take charge of them and arrange them to suit our individual needs.
Tackling one annoyance highlighted by many as a constant source of angst and for many a generator of fear and uncertainty; pop ups and adverts launching in separate windows. We looked at useful plug-ins and add-ons for our browsers. For those of us unfamiliar with ‘Ad-Block’, it’s discovery is something akin to the unveiling of a true modern miracle worker.
Exploring the different types of plug-ins and add-ons available for browsers, and how to install and control them, gave our members real confidence in taking charge of their browsers, many for the first time expressing relief and that at last they felt they had some idea of what was going on when they went online. For the first time they felt they had some control over their computer rather than their computer being in control of them…
We explored setting home pages, privacy settings and their importance, deleting history and it’s importance when using public computers, identifying and checking web site addresses… “am I on the right page”
“Am I On The Right Page”… This proved to be such an invaluable session for all. On many occasions people had been unwittingly accessing web content or downloading software from third party sites resulting in the unwanted installation of third party software and toolbars.
Bookmarks and how to use them was another very welcome session, we introduced folders, and different ways to organise and manage bookmarks. Even some of our more experienced lap-toppers took a lot from this. Twenty bookmarks or more and things can start to get very unwieldy indeed.
Throughout this time we have also been looking at developing an understanding of all the incredible things we can do with a mouse, many of our members at outset had very basic skills in this area. A few had none. When you don’t know what your mouse is up to, things can get very frustrating. We quickly identified that a lot of folks were guessing with their double clicking, right click, left click, scrolling and the whole myriad of multiple functions a mouse has. No one wants to appear inept when sitting next to others clicking away. We found people tended to mask their fear of uncertainty. Tackling this in a fun way, we found, was the answer; we had a great time using online mouse click games and exercises to help people get to grips with and take control of the potential of their mouse. We also made some great music along the way.
Here’s a few sites we investigated:
We also did a lot of work investigating basic short cuts that are universal between browsers and software such as
Ctrl V = Paste
Ctrl C = Copy
Ctrl A = Select All
Over the weeks, we have also had a steady stream of GRACE members and friends of GRACE, dropping in with computer related problems and questions. One of the biggest problems is computers and laptops running at incredibly slow speeds and underperforming. In most cases the primary cause has been malware and other such nasties. As each case has presented itself we have used each as an opportunity to problem solve. We have also introduced the idea of basic computer and laptop housekeeping, Malwarebytes, CC Cleaner, and Avast antivirus software has now been installed on all our laptops, by participants, and all now feel confident in regularly checking their laptops are malware and virus free.
Other problems that are often presented usually follow a visit from teenage nieces, nephews, and grandchildren…. “I don’t know what they did with it!” We have looked at the basics of ‘computer appearance’ and taking charge of your desktop, and again browsers. This has on many occasions tied in with the use of Malwarebytes. It would seem that teenagers are quite adept at installing third party software that hi-jacks and changes browser behaviour!
In conclusion we would say that these past ten weeks have been very successful. This is clearly evident to our facilitator through recognising the relaxed demeanour in which participants now tackle problems they encounter, or in the way they set about tasks in a confident manner. Perhaps the best indicator is the confidence with which people speak up and share information, ask questions, or help fellow participants, or newcomers to the group. There is also a new found understanding that no one is ever an expert on all things computer based, but that answers and solutions can be found in many formats by ‘googling‘.
Key lessons learned:
The past year has been an incredible journey for GRACE with many of our members taking their first steps into the digital realm at the start of 2016 through to members now sharing skills and knowledge gained and helping new members. Over this time we have had a core group of participants attending our weekly workshops and many others dropping in to solve problems or tackle online forms they are struggling with. In addition to laptop and PC maintenance and digital housekeeping tips; our current record holder for malware infections, Mary, brought in her laptop to see why it was running so slow. Malwarebytes identified over 2690 malicious forms of malware nesting in her laptop. Mary’s infested laptop is a prime of example of a key lesson learnt.
Every problem is an opportunity to learn:
Each week some unforeseen computing related problem has arisen and provided opportunity for us as a group to explore solutions. Mary’s laptop problems gave rise to a whole host of questions and shared experiences from all. Many commented that they thought their household laptop was just slow because it was old. In some cases we were talking about laptops less than two years old. Others spoke about not being able to afford to put their laptops in ‘for repair’. The morning in question of identifying the malware that was rendering the laptop in question as virtually unusable, allowed us to introduce the group to the tools we can use to keep our PC’s and laptops performing at optimal levels; tools such as CC Cleaner and Malwarebytes. Installing and using these on our Digital Cafe laptops not only introduced the group to such tools but allowed us to practice our ‘Google’ research skills, searching out articles on ‘top ten tips for speeding up slow computers’, ‘dealing with computer viruses’, in addition to watching short online tutorials on ‘how to’ matters that arose.
This whole event surrounding the infected laptop gave rise to over four weeks investigation into many topics about good digital housekeeping practises, safety on and offline, how to spot potential malware origins. In addition opportunity arose to practise downloading and installing software, unzipping files, choosing download locations, how to source online help and the best ways to ask or phrase ‘Google’ questions when searching for answers.
Many other such ‘problems’ have provided a wealth of opportunity to learn and in so doing build confidence in engaging with the digital realm through our laptops and other devices. ‘Problems’ like those presented in June 2016 when the deadline to upgrade to Windows 10 arose. This particular event lead to investigating ‘pop ups’. It is really quite incredible how much angst is generated from our computers constantly asking us questions in the form of ‘pop ups’. “Do you wish to upgrade”, “Your software is out of date” etc. etc. With regards to Windows 10 update we took everyone through the process of restoring laptops to factory condition, in some cases we rolled back several laptops to Windows 7 and Windows 8, and in others we took everyone through the process of updating their operating system. The key to learning in all of this was to view every perceived problem as an opportunity.