Q & A with Tech Manitoba’s Digital Literacy Team

Tech Manitoba is on a mission to increase digital literacy and computer access in Manitoba. When people have access to computers and the fundamental skills to use them, they increase their education and employment opportunities, foster e-commerce, and participate in the digital world.

Tech Manitoba has programming to address these gaps. Meet Paula Canas, Program Manager, and Anthony, Program Coordinator — the force behind Tech Manitoba’s Digital Literacy initiative. Paula and Anthony work together, and with many partner organizations, to organize classes all across the province in a variety of subjects that range from Zoom 101 to Intro to Word.

Q: What is the purpose of the Digital Literacy program?

Anthony: Our world has become so digitalized — particularly during the pandemic — that it’s critical for most people to have digital literacy skills to function and thrive. Imagine looking for a job, applying for university, or searching for a home to rent without knowing how to use a computer or without having access to a computer.

Paula: Over the past two-and-a-half years, our goal has been to train Manitobans with basic computer knowledge so they can gain the skills needed to stay connected with loved ones, feel more comfortable with using technology to do everyday activities and find employment. We do this by hosting classes all across the province.

Like Anthony said, nowadays most of our daily activities are online. People need to sign up by filling out an online form, pay their bills using online banking and so much more even staying connected during these difficult times, so feeling comfortable with using a computer has become increasingly essential. So we offer intro classes on computers, Zoom, and so much more. This year we’ve also been able to give computers to those in need through our wonderful partnership with Computers for Schools.

Q: What types of classes are available?

Paula: This summer we’re offering a variety of courses every Tuesday morning and evening starting July 6 and ending August 31. We’re calling these classes Tech Tuesdays. Each class is two-hours and open to anyone looking to learn new things for free during the summer.

Anthony: This summer we’ll be hosting a variety of classes including Intro to Zoom, Intro to Email, Intro to Social Media and more. You can check out our full list of classes here and feel free to register yourself or someone you know who might be interested.

Paula: And I forgot to add that once we can, we’ll be hosting in-person classes again starting this fall. After a year of online learning I’m really looking forward to that.

Q: Who are these classes for?

Paula: Our classes are open to anybody and everybody in Manitoba with very little to no experience with computers.

Anthony: Yep, no experience is required. But because these classes are online, people do need to have access to a computer, internet and an email address. We host the classes on Zoom, but if you don’t know how to use it and need support figuring it out, we’re happy to work with you a few days before the class starts so you can get set up and be ready to learn.

Q: What’s your favourite part of the program?

Paula: There are so many parts of this program that I love! My favourite part is organizing all the pieces before people take a class. I feel like my work is having an impact on so many lives. I love what I do and put in the effort to make sure everything works out. Another part that I enjoy is hearing how empowered our participants become after taking these courses. This is a first step in helping them understand that they can learn anything they want.

Anthony: My favourite part of the program is hearing from our participants about how our courses or computers have positively impacted their lives. To get a computer to someone who needs it to apply for a job, or whose child is doing remote learning from their phone, and then to hear back from them about the difference we made — it’s a wonderful feeling.

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Insights from Manitoba’s tech community.

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