Technology increases demand for tablet tutoring

By: Cari DeLamielleure-Scott | West Bloomfield Beacon | Published January 14, 2014

 Librarian Amanda Bacalis assists patron Esther Weitzman with an iPad in a tablet tutoring session.

Librarian Amanda Bacalis assists patron Esther Weitzman with an iPad in a tablet tutoring session.

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WEST BLOOMFIELD — The West Bloomfield Township Public Library has expanded the number of tutoring sessions for Android and iPad tablets since the summer of 2013, adding additional sessions January through May.

“We’ve seen an increased need in our patrons coming in with questions,” said Michael Bruno, adult services coordinator for the library. “For January and February, there are more sessions than usual due to the holiday gift-giving.”

Originally, the library had offered a class on tablet tutoring, which was limited to five students, but due to the demand, they have since moved to 30 minute one-on-one sessions with trained librarians. 

“It’s been a very positive experience,” said Joe Turbok, staff librarian and tablet tutor. “It’s good seeing what patrons use their devices for and how we can help them, in general.”

The librarians were trained to tutor people on the tablets through trial and error. Turbok said he did his own personal training, which has allowed him to address questions from patrons. 

Though the sessions focus mostly on basics, like creating passwords and finding settings, Bruno said patrons have needed help with updating the Apple IOS, Apple’s operating system, as well as troubleshooting issues. Downloading books and emailing pictures have also been hot topics in the sessions.

The majority of patrons attending the sessions have been older than 60, Bruno and Turbok said, and for those who received tablets as gifts, many are unsure how to best utilize their device. For instance, Bruno said, if the time setting is incorrectly inputted, patrons have had a hard time downloading books onto their devices.

Librarians do not provide tablets to use during the tutoring sessions, and patrons are asked to bring a charged tablet. Tutors will also assist with e-books, audio e-books, Freegal Music, Zinio Magazine and the library’s recently acquired Rosetta Stone.

“Even if we’re not doing the classes themselves, we still get people coming in to ask for help, and we help them on the spot if they need it,” Turbok said. “Once we help patrons follow the steps and show them how to do them, they usually catch on pretty quickly, and they’re pretty thankful.”

Registration is open for both January and February sessions. The sessions that run March through May do not open until a month before the scheduled dates. For a list of dates, visit www.wblib.org. To register for one of the one-on-one tutoring sessions, contact the library at (248) 682-2120. Tutoring sessions are available for residents with a West Bloomfield Library card.

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