Delving into digital – past the basics and beyond

Digital technology is so important now that we all know we should learn to use it. The advantages are clear ….we can keep in touch more easily with distant family and friends, share pictures, save money through online discounts for goods or services, hunt for jobs, save time completing official forms online—the list goes on.

Evan a basic knowledge will help, so if you haven’t already made a start there is individual tuition available in libraries and various community venues to get you going online. See pages 27, 29 and 30 in the Golden Guide for details. Using a website like Learn My Way can also help you absorb the basics at your own pace. Writing and sending emails, surfing the internet, and how to use popular applications such as Skype, Facebook and iPlayer are all there, as well as how to do your banking and shopping. If you are slightly daunted – don’t be, most of the processes are quite simple…..once you know how!

And once you do know how —the internet opens up a huge assortment of activities, jobs, hobbies, education and other interactions for you to explore. If it doesn’t change your life it can certainly expand your horizons and give you access to a wealth of new opportunities.

So if you’d like to delve a bit further into digital and past the basics here are ten good ideas to try out on the internet – for free.

Transform your photos. How about not just sharing your pictures but turning them into works of art with your own creative effects -colours, overlays, borders etc. All free via Pixlr— a photo editing service. (Also see GIMP.)

Videojug is a great ‘how to’ site. Its enormous range of video tutorials show you how to cook like a chef, play chess, make money from social media, (trade in the stock market), tone your upper arms, style your hair and decorate a basement room. There are so many more!

Get free tech support at Techguy. This forum-based site lists questions and answers covering computer viruses and security, mobile phones, software and hardware problems, operating systems and web design.

Learn a language for free. Duolingo’s system teaches you an expanding ‘tree’ of skills based on multiple choice questions geared to your level. It will take you from one challenge to the next through graphics, text and audio learning. They are committed to keeping language learning free.

Just for fun you can learn magic tricks at Good Tricks.

Or for something weightier how about tackling one of the Open University’s free online courses. You could try Money Management, Trading on the Stock Market, Writing Fiction, the Business of Football, Renewable Energy, or maybe Forensic Psychology – there are 800 to choose from.

Read a book—there are over 49,000 classic e-books at Project Gutenberg all free to read online, on your Kindle or to download. And if you want to organise your ebooks collection Calibre offers a free management system to do just that.

Get free sheet music. IMSLP has a library of free downloadable sheet music in the public domain. They also encourage you to add your own analysis of particular pieces to their online discussions.

Learn to draw. Register for free on Drawspace for lessons aimed at beginners through to advanced students.

And if you have something to say why not start your own blog! There are plenty of free guides online e.g The Minimalists who explain the basice of blogging and how to set up a simple website platform to do it.

So go on – get online, start searching and find out how the internet can be your new best friend!

*Northumberland County Council are currently mapping digital provision in the county. New online centres or classes will be added to the Golden Guide, or to our Updates section when known.

Alabaster Publishing
© August 2015

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