Whoever would have thought that a virus would help us understand why having a good broadband connection and digital skills would be so important?
The coronavirus outbreak has companies implementing a work from home policy, telecommuting, as a precaution to spreading the virus; schools are trying to figure out how to hold classes online; and healthcare providers are connecting to patients with virtual office visits.
Folks are scrambling to learn new computer skills to connect to co-workers, family and friends and utilize online resources.
For those of us that have been advocating for better broadband, digital inclusion and digital equity across the country, it is a bittersweet moment that validates the importance of the work we do. Broadband connectivity and broadband adoption is about people’s livelihoods, education, and well-being.
The National Digital Equity Center and its Maine Digital Inclusion Initiative program’s mission is to close the digital divide across Maine and the United States – advocating for affordable broadband, affordable equipment, digital literacy training, and public computer access.
The program offers free computer skills classes to Maine’s residents. The classes include Introduction to Computer, Internet Safety, Windows 10, Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint, and QuickBooks – classes that help employees develop and enhance their skills.
The Aging Well with Technology classes help our older adults learn about connecting through basic technology, protecting their online presence, using technology for better health, and getting what you need online. All skills that help our older adults stay in their homes longer.
Maine needs to connect the homes that are unserved, increase the capacity of existing broadband networks, and teach people how to use technology.
Figuring out solutions for better broadband in our communities is hard, and finding funding is even harder. Learning new computer skills is challenging and sometimes overwhelming as we get older.
So, I challenge every one of you. Advocate for better broadband in your community, and don’t stop until every home and business is connected. Learn new computer skills and help others to understand why having better broadband is so important. Do it for your community. Do it for your children and grandchildren. Do it for yourself.
Join me in closing the digital divide in this beautiful place we call home and let’s work together towards a more connected tomorrow.