With a population of just under 1,200, digital learning resources are hard for many residents of Harbor Springs, MI to find. Harbor Area Regional Board of Resources, Inc. (HARBOR Inc.) and community partners are changing that with HarborActive, an interactive digital literacy training initiative.
HarborActive provides hands-on training across a variety of programs and applications, with classes designed for both businesses and casual users. HARBOR Inc. began working with Connect Michigan in 2011, designing a Community Technology Action Plan to advance broadband adoption and use in the area. HarborActive addresses the need for digital literacy at the root of broadband growth.
HarborActive was founded by Rachel Smolinski, Executive Director of HARBOR, Inc. and Marcie Wolf, partner at Abuzz Creative, a web design, social media marketing and video production company. HarborActive brings many of Harbor Spring’s richest community resources together, including the Harbor Springs Chamber of Commerce, the Harbor Springs library, and Community Connections of Greater Harbor Springs, an organization focused on aging in place and quality of life for seniors.
“Forming these partnerships within the community is what HARBOR Inc. focuses on,” Smolinski explained. HarborActive gives residents, businesses, and community leaders an opportunity to come together and share their knowledge in a casual and interactive environment. “We’ve had a lot of fun with it already and there are a lot of opportunities still available.”
HarborActive began with classes for business owners, such as optimizing Facebook posts to reach more customers, organizing a business profile, and using social media as a marketing tool.
“The great thing about the training is that people can get updated on changes that Facebook is making, so they can stay on top of their game,” said Wolf.
Some courses invite participants to use their laptops and follow along step-by-step with instructors using a specific application, while other courses offer 1-on-1 instruction for a wide range of computer problems or questions. A recent course focused on seniors addressed everything from downloading books and music to using Facebook and posting pictures. At the end of the classes, questionnaires are distributed so participants can decide what topics should be covered next.
Entry to the classes ranges between $5 and $25, and they continue to gain popularity. The most anticipated upcoming event is the Wine and Web class, which will include “four courses of wine and four courses of web” for participants of all ages and interests. The Wine and Web course is planned to take place June 23, with registration open May 26, complementing the Waterfront Wine Festival at Harbor Springs, taking place the following weekend on June 27.
Visit www.harboractive.com to sign up for upcoming courses and visit www.connectmycommunity.org to learn more about digital literacy programs and broadband expansion across the nation.
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