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National Digital Equity Center to offer free digital literacy classes

Jun 21, 2020

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the National Digital Equity Center expanded its free class offerings to an online platform statewide.

Classes are free and cover a range of topics including "For Work and Business," "For Home and Education" and "Aging Well with Technology."

All classes are taught through live webinar sessions by local instructors, helping Maine's under-served populations learn skills and improve computer software knowledge, ultimately with the intention of helping to close Maine's digital divide.

“Digital Inclusion is a national priority in the United States, and increasingly, a priority in Maine,” says Director Susan Corbett, “High-speed internet access is widely recognized as a necessity for full participation in today’s society.

"Employers, educators, businesses, healthcare providers and civic institutions expect people to have access to computers and broadband connectivity. Digital Inclusion includes Affordable Broadband; Affordable Equipment; Digital Literacy Training; and Public Computer Access. The National Digital Equity Center focuses on Digital Literacy/Computer Skills training.”

Traditionally held in classroom settings throughout the state, the National Digital Equity Center transitioned classes to online learning in response to COVID-19. Students are able to join classes remotely through video conferencing and have live interaction with the instructor during one-hour class sessions.

"It has been quite the experience connecting and educating folks all over the state even when traditional on-site, in-person operations have been halted,” says Robert Hohman, who taught in-person only classes in Aroostook County before the pandemic.

“Being able to use web-based tools to help teach in some ways has enhanced my abilities to help educate and has helped our participants achieve a degree of confidence never before seen. Furthermore, teaching from the intimate setting of my home is almost like inviting the participants over for a visit, where they all get to leave after a nice chat and some digital skills practice."

Classes are designed for students of varying experience levels, from those who are new to computers and tablets to more advanced users interested in learning about specific applications or subjects.

Class topics include learning about devices, internet safety and using Google-based tools, alongside software-focused classes covering topics like WordPress and Microsoft Word and Excel. The National Digital Equity Center recently added a class instructing Mainers on how to request an absentee ballot online for the upcoming election.

“The National Digital Equity Center provides the digital literacy skills training that play a critical role in technology and workforce skills development that increase employability of program participants, improve job-seeking skills, and create a more highly skilled, job-ready workforce across Maine,” Corbett added.

All classes are free, but registration is required as there are a limited number of spots available. To view a complete list of classes and to sign up, visit digitalequitycenter.org/classes. Requests for more information can also be made by calling 259-5010 or emailing info@digitalequitycenter.org.

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