East Side Storys – teaching tech to mums in Stepney

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Guest post from #techmums trainer Jemima Gibbons

After three days pretty much non-stop rain it was a nice surprise to wake up yesterday morning with sunshine streaming through the window – and the early commute across London to Stepney Green suddenly didn’t seem so bad.

Yesterday morning was my first ever #techmums training course: I’d been teamed up with fellow #techmum Judith Scammell to run a one-off session on social media and online security at Stepney Green Maths & Computing College, East London.

I had many burning questions: What would the mums be like? How difficult would it be to get them talking? How would we run the session without full social media access? Would anyone actually turn up? What sort of place was Stepney Green Maths & Computing College? Did they really name it Ben Johnson Road after the disgraced Canadian athlete and…most importantly…can you buy a decent skinny latte that side of Hoxton?

Luckily, all my fears were laid to rest as soon as Judith and I met the friendly, smiling Ayesha (IT manager) and the fifteen mums who’d signed up for the session. The mums were keen, sharp and full of questions. Most of them had one or more teenage children and were familiar with new technology. One of the mums even told us about a new app, Telegram Messenger, which we’d never heard of (so thanks for the tip)!

As we’d expected, the mums’ main concerns were around online security – especially dodgy pop-ups, and children viewing material they shouldn’t be. This was just what Judith and I had imagined – and in fact we were a little worried about starting the session with an evangelical talk about the wonders of social media.

But the mums also talked about how they loved to share photos and reconnect with old friends on Facebook. And they seemed genuinely inspired and excited by the social media stories we told – from Lauren Luke becoming a hit on YouTube and setting up her own make-up empire, to Sue Black saving Bletchley Park through a humble Twitter campaign.

All in all, it was a great way to spend two hours. I’m off to check my Twitter – who knows, I may have a tweet from one of the Stepney Green mums! That was their homework – mine is to download the Telegram Messenger app (obv).

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