Mr Ong Han Min

Volunteering with RSVP since 2015...

For the past 16 years, I worked in the global IT department of an international organization which involved frequent travel and overseas assignments, spending months on end away from my family. With the completion of my last project in 2014 and a few health scares, I decided to retire so as to finally spend more time with my family at home. This sudden switch from a high-stress, fast-paced life of managing a team and meeting tight project deadlines to a simple retiree lifestyle running errands for the family who were not often home left me bored and feeling empty; devoid of purpose and not knowing how to find that fulfillment I thought retirement would bring.

Reading about the SG smart nation initiative and observing the proliferation of mobile apps and PC-based online transactions around me, I noticed a digital divide between the tech-savvy populace and non-tech-savvy older folks and how it permeated daily life, for example something as simple and common as queuing. The non-tech-savvy spend more time standing in long lines to get things done in-person whereas the tech-savvy know how to perform transactions electronically. Similarly, practical information such as route planner, medical appointment, bus arrival information, EBooks borrowing all exist easily at fingertips but only for those who know how to access it. Looking at my elderly non-tech-savvy parents struggle with this as others do, dependent on my assistance, I felt that I could contribute by using my IT knowledge to teach and enable more seniors to access a world of information that is available freely online.

Accustomed to independent learning on the job, when I first joined RSVP’s Cyberguide program, I naively believed that the critical success factors for this programme were simply the provision of good training materials alongside the provision of low-cost training. A year of active participation in the Cyberguide training and Silver IT Festival proved to be an eye opener and a valuable learning point – the commercial training programme and approach does not suit senior beginner tech-learners. Instead, I realized that a more effective approach for success in this programme requires a balance of patience, consistent reinforcement, plenty of hands-on work and trainers being able to identify key stumbling blocks for learners. 

From my observation, the most effective trainers for the basic Cyberguide IT courses are actually outstanding past participants who learnt the skills and later acquired mastery through assisting in teaching because they understand the difficulties that beginners face.  Personally, the freedom to teach courses of interest, feeling the keenness of participants to learn and finally seeing the happiness after they have acquired the knowledge had given me a sense of fulfillment and purpose that has helped ease the transition from work to retirement. 



习惯了在工作上自主学习,我当初参加RSVP的电脑资讯科技辅导项目(Cyberguide)时还天真地认为其项目成功的关键因素是因为有好的教材以及便宜的培训价格。这一年对我而言是一个宝贵的学习点,我参与了Cyberguide培训课程和银发族资讯科技节(Silver IT Fest)。我也发现商业化的培训课程及方法并不适合初学科技的乐龄人士。相反,我意识到若想让Cyberguide更有效、更成功,我们需要耐心,不断强化及更多的练习工作,而培训师也必须能够识别学生们在学习方面的难处。

以我观察,最有效的Cyberguide IT课程培训师其实就是那些以前参加过培训课程的优秀学生,他们掌握了技能之后不仅学以致用还协助教学。这是因为他们明白初学者所面临的困难。对我来说,能够自由地教自己感兴趣的课程,能够感受到学生积极地学习,然后终于看到了学习的成果使我感到无比的满足,它帮助缓解了我从工作到退休的过渡。