Position focuses on digital literacy

FAIRMONT– Celia Simpson, a Lead for Minnesota Fellow hosted by Project 1590 in Fairmont, has been helping different groups in the community with digital literacy.

Simpson’s fellowship is American Connection Project and is focused on digital equity.

“That means broadband for some fellows but for me it’s really focused on digital literacy and making sure the people in our community have the skills and knowledge to use their devices or use software,” Simpson explained.

She said it’s important for a number of reasons, one of them being that the world is increasingly becoming more digital.

“You can do banking online, order your prescriptions online, grocery shopping online, advertising for jobs. Everything we do really has an online component,” Simpson said.

One of the areas she’s noted is a struggle for this community is that there’s not that broad knowledge.

“Some people aren’t advertising their jobs online and they’re losing out on getting young people to work there. They’re not advertising the houses that are for sale online. They’re not using those tools that young people know and use so we’re missing out on connecting with one another,” Simpson said.

When Simpson started her position in August, she did a listening tour with different community stakeholders. When it came to the digital literacy piece she knew wanted to connect with seniors.

She reached out to CREST, which already works with the older population through a number of programs and she has since shared some information on digital literacy during CREST’s lunch and learn sessions.

Simpson spoke at a lunch and learn in October, where she shared information on smart phones, and two in November where the topic was digital scans.

At 10 a.m. on Nov. 30, Simpson will lead the first digital support group at the Fairmont CREST office.

For the first session, Simpson plans to ask those who show up what their needs are as she acknowledged everyone has different skills and struggles.

“One of the other pieces I’ve been doing with this is actually going to people’s homes and sitting down with them and answering their questions one on one,” Simpson said.

Some of the areas she’s helped with including how to text off of a smart phone, editing photos and sending photos via text.

“I’ve had a lot of questions about Facebook because I brought it up as a tool for people to connect with one another,” Simpson said.

For now, Simpson has mainly worked with the older population on digital literacy as she sees the need is greatest among that group. She pointed out that while other people may not be very tech savvy, they have the knowledge to figure it out by Googling a question or watching a YouTube video, whereas seniors don’t tend to do that.

She has also done some work with English Language Learners (ELL) at Fairmont High School.

“They’re young people but the language barrier can prevent them from using the software as well,” Simpson said.

Next, she’s considering going to the Martin County Library in order to expand who she’s working with.

Anyone with questions for Simpson can reach out to her through Project 1590’s website at project1590.com.


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