Battling Digital Demons

Battling digital demons

It takes courage to conquer your fears.

For some, that fear is technology.

Judy Mancl admits that she was leery of computers and the internet. So she began attending Rudoph’s Open Computer Lab on Tuesday and Thursday nights.

“I was leery of stuff, but Dave helps with that. He’s brought in a laptop, IPad, ITouch and digital camera. If you have questions, he’s got patience and makes you feel at ease.”

What’s the most popular question?

“Most are interested in learning about email to connect with family and friends,” says Dave Moon, who helps at the lab. “Another popular request is learning how to download photos from a digital camera and attach them to emails.”

Rudolph’s computer lab is the result of resident input at focus groups held in Wisconsin Rapids and surrounding communities.

“In February and March we talked to over 80 residents about information needs in our community,” explained Liz Everson, Knight Project manager. “Over and over, computer training and access to the internet were voiced as needs in our community.”

In a community like Rudolph with no public library, residents voiced access to high-speed internet as a problem. Supported by a Community Foundation grant, Rudolph Elementary opened their computer lab two nights per week in October. Residents have free use of the computers, access to high-speed internet and knowledgeable staff there to ask questions.

To date, free computer labs in Rudolph and Port Edwards ensure that many more residents are able to bridge the digital divide and become more connected. In addition, eight free computer skills classes are now offered through Wisconsin Rapids Public Schools, with plans for more classes, due to high demand.

“It makes a big difference when you’re not afraid of it,” says Judy adding, “I’m thinking about getting a computer.”