Thursday, January 23, 2014

iPad Settings Workshop

My supervisor gave me an iPad few weeks ago to work with Makey-Makey or any construction kit. I am not a fan of Apple products and not familiar with them. So I had to do work around the navigation patterns and settings for a while. But, I never felt comfortable using the iPad - let alone exploring the accessibility features...

Couple of weeks ago I decided to join Brisbane City Council library. On their web site I saw some free workshops available. iPad Basics and iPad settings were two of them. So I thought 'Why not!' Though I registered for both of them I missed the basics one. The iPad settings workshop was in Sunnybank Hills public library on 21st of January 2014. It was a scorching summer day - but, mostly because I wanted to know about iPad and partly because I have never been to Sunny bank Hills (I love to go around the city in public buses!) I have decided to go there!

I was directed towards a open space where the workshop participants were seated. I was surprised - they all were ladies and most of them should have been over 60 years old. I was surprised because if this workshop was held in Sri Lanka - which is by home country - I would see gentlemen who are young or in middle ages. I understood that culture can play a major role in using technologies. Old generation in my country are not even familiar with mobile phones. But, here they are very excited about the latest trends.

Then another shocker - the instructor was also a lady! In my home country females are not much interested in technical gadgets. Even in my undergraduate research I noticed this trend - male participants were much quicker to grasp a new technology. But, here females are delivering workshops about technical gadgets! So there was I - the only male attendee for the workshop!!! To be honest I felt little embarrassed - a PhD student in Computer Science sitting amongst bunch of ladies to learn iPad - that sure does not sound good!

But, surprisingly the group as well as the instructor were very supportive which helped me to be more comfortable. I was fascinated by the way the instructor conducted the session. She was well aware of the capabilities of the group and addressed each of us accordingly. If I was the person conducting the workshop I would have been frustrated be angry with the "dumb" questions been asked by the ladies! But she was clever enough to understand the level of technical expertise of the participants and their emotions. She answered the questions in a very calm and nice way. She even demonstrated some features again and again to make them clear for her 'students'. The lesson is that we need to be very flexible in ways that we communicate with others. We need to understand their knwoledge levels, emotions and expectations for a successful communication.

Frankly, when I took the seat in the group, I thought this is going to be the most boring workshop I ever attended. But, surprisingly I managed to learn some new features like the quick access bar at the bottom of the screen that can be activated by the swiping up and the task manager. At the end of the workshop I felt more comfortable navigating inside the iPad. The lesson is that we should never underestimate an opportunity - no matter how big or small - to learn something new. It can sometimes open the door for a golden opportunity!!!

I put positive comments in the feedback form I received at the end of the session. I felt this was a great initiative to make people aware of the latest technologies. These workshops can be highly useful especially for aged and disabled people as they are conducted in a such way that they are engaged actively.  I had a quick tour around the library after the workshop and then headed back towards the city in the comfort of an air-conditioned public bus!