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SXSW Award Winner Teaches Austin Adults How to Digitize their Legacy

When Roberta Przybylski retired at 55, she never thought she’d teach adults, but after working as an educator, a technical writer and teaching herself how to use the computer, it seemed like a natural fit. She began volunteering at the Austin Computer Learning Center, a non-profit and part of the Austin Groups for the Elderly where for the last 12 years she’s taught hundreds of adults how to use their computer. In 2005, she was introduced to Photodex’s ProShow Gold for creating video slideshows and immediately knew it would benefit her students.

“I saw the possibilities for ‘Digital Legacy’ stories and memories for my older students. I was intrigued with the multimedia aspect of hearing a person’s voice tell a story and have their favorite music at the same time,” said Roberta. “Making shows documents my students’ travels and enhances their legacy stories, keeps them vital in mind, and expresses their creativity through their photographs.”

She began teaching “Digitizing Your Legacy” at the University of Texas for the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute and at the Austin Computer Learning Center and has never looked back. Roberta recently won the SXSW Dewey Winburne for her community service in teaching with technology and the effects are lasting throughout the community.

With the help of ProShow Gold and Producer, Roberta has taught a variety of people including veterans from World War II and Vietnam to returning Iraq and Afghan vets how to make memories come alive in the most professional way using their old photos, favorite music and voice recordings. Her work has also helped one of her students who volunteers at the Settlement Home for Girls put together Quincinera slideshows for their birthdays. Local philanthropy chapters, such as Austin Samaritans led by Dr. John Doty, a noted Oncologist, have raised money with moving video slideshows created by Lynn Herrin that capture the organization’s mission through poignant photos and stories.

One of her students, Bert Crowson, a retired minister at University Avenue Church of Christ and Director of Disaster Response Program for the Texas State Department now uses ProShow to show the congregation “People You Need to Know” in their 80s. “In these church videos I wanted to give honor to those older members and tell them how much we love and appreciate them. So often the kind words spoken are said too late and only the family is able to benefit from them at a memorial service,” Bert said.

Roberta also offers a Grandparent/Grandchild Camp in the summer so the younger generations can work together with the older generations in telling their stories and letting the younger generation appreciate and get to know their grandparents white helping them with the technology needed to make the show.

Among the technologies Roberta teaches, Photodex’s ProShow Gold and Producer have given her the most joy. “As long as my students understand drag and drop, they can create meaningful slideshows. We have non-technical grandparents who can put a show together and their families think they are regular Ken Burns’ directors and producers.”

“Our students have read a favorite story or poem and recorded themselves for their families. This type of connection was not possible to them in the past so these classes have helped them grow and are they very committed to learning the technique using Producer and Gold as their vehicles.”

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