By the end of last year, I enrolled in cibervoluntarios, an NGO that provides free training about Information technologies to seniors and young people, and other groups with exclusion risk. It’s an entirely virtual organization where volunteers sign up for proposed activities, and the organization provides all the materials and guidance. Then on the training day, you show up and do the gig.
My first workshop was for seniors on safe practices on general Internet stuff, like understanding when a website is served through HTTPS, the different risks on social media, and so on.
Yesterday was a very different thing. I had a group of 7 kids between 9 and 12 years old, and the session topic was electronic mail. I took one of them to create an account for her, simulating I was her parent so they (and the center educators) could see how that works with Google Mail. Later, they all signed in to the same Google Workspace account from the center to practice the interface instead of just watching me.
You know, these kids’ attention span is limited. I focused on helping them understand what email is, how to send and read received messages, forward, and search. And that’s it; there was little more room for content since it was Friday evening, and they were easily distracted.
Yeah, they were more interested in the last Bizarrap Session with Shakira. The funny thing is I already saw that video earlier today, as were the other 60 million people. 74 now, just a few hours later!
I did the talking, but only thanks to the assistance of the center educators’ and a colleague from cibervoluntarios that also attende. They were at the back of the room, guiding the kids and ensuring they followed me.
They got the basic concepts, and at least they know how email works apart from being required to sign on to TikTok and Instagram. Additionally, I taught a couple of nice GMail tricks to the educators as well.
I will continue doing these in-person training sessions in Valencia and near the city. I like teaching and challenging myself with this audience, where you need to develop your soft skills to navigate the activity. I also learn something every time, and it is a bit of fresh air from the usual remote work-from-home I do on my regular workdays.
Finally I’d like to mention that this involvement with cibervoluntarios has been possible thanks the generous support from Elastic, my employer, that gives everyone in the organizaton up to 40 hours per year for Volunteering Time Off.