Harnessing technology

by | October 31, 2018

Polytechnic students teach seniors basic IT skills, mobile apps and how to sell their vintage items.

BY: Eleanor Yap

Retiree Tay Meng Huat trying his hands on the Canva app with the help of polytechnic students at the Digital Skills Carnival.

A group of polytechnic students from different polytechnics were recently paired up with 50 seniors from Ang Mo Kio to coach them on how best to harness technology as part of the Polytechnic Forum’s Digital Skills Carnival. The annual Forum provides a platform for polytechnic students to gain deeper understanding of national issues through activities, discussions and dialogue with industry and Government leaders.

During the Carnival, the seniors were taught basic IT skills and how to use mobile apps like WhatsApp. As they have also amassed a lifetime of belongings that could be sold online, and make them extra money and declutter their homes, students shared tips on how to take Instagram-worthy images and use apps like Canva to make eye-catching e-posters to boost desirability of their vintage items.

Retiree Tay Meng Huat signed up for the Carnival with his wife to learn how to use the mobile apps. The 68-year-old said: “The students taught us very well. The one-to-one coaching allowed us more time and opportunity to ask all the questions we had. I am very grateful for their patience and willingness to teach. They even told us to contact them if we had more questions and shared their numbers! I used to be a little confused on how to use WhatsApp. Now, I can use it well and I even know how to edit photos on my phone.”

Another, 65-year-old Ng Ah Lan, joined the Carnival with some of her friends. The retiree shared, “We decided to sign up for the Digital Skills Carnival as it was a great opportunity for us to learn from the tech-savvy students. At our age, there are a lot of technologies that we do not know. The students were very patient and answered all of my questions. I wanted to learn how to use WhatsApp and to shop on the Taobao application. I can communicate with my friends on WhatsApp now. The students also helped me set up an account on Taobao and I often scroll through the application to look at clothing and shoes!”

The seniors weren’t the only ones who had takeaways during the IT session. Twenty-three-year-old Gabriel Goh, a graduate from Nanyang Polytechnic’s Diploma in Game Development & Technology and who volunteers at the polytechnic’s Emcee and Mentoring Club, taught the seniors how to edit images, create photo collages and other basic IT skills. “What I’ve learnt through this experience is for us youths to not be quickly disheartened when guiding the seniors,” he said. “Have patience, and they will be able to master the skills.”

Another student, 19-year-old Shazuan Shiraj, who is a first year in NYP’s diploma in social sciences (social work), taught the seniors photo-editing skills and exposed them to apps like Canva. He initially found it hard to connect to the seniors due to a language barrier. “I was unable to speak Mandarin, but after spending time with them, they really warmed up to me,” he said.

“What was also refreshing and eye-opening was being able to witness the sheer amount of determination of these seniors,” added Shazuan. “I remember how one of the seniors did not even know how to connect to the Wi-Fi on her phone, but she ended the session learning many more skills. It was a sense of accomplishment for these seniors.”

A total of 75 students from the five polytechnics – NYP, Ngee Ann Polytechnic, Republic Polytechnic, Singapore Polytechnic and Temasek Polytechnic– took part in the Carnival. Each polytechnic takes a turn to organise the Forum. This year’s Polytechnic Forum theme was ‘Caring for our Future’ and was hosted by NYP.




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