SeniorNet Nelson

Highlights from the SeniorNet Nelson Database

2009 to 2023

The SeniorNet Administration Program – SNAP for short, has underpinned the Administration of Membership and Course Records, as well as billing data, since 2009. It is a purpose-built App which runs under Access. It has been upgraded and customised many times over the years.

Supported by the technical skills of Trevor Lewis, our Membership Secretaries – first Lesley Wilson and for many years now Ronnie Jones, have provided a rich resource of statistics to help the organisation run efficiently. Other volunteers have helped along the way and it has been a busy and essential job.

Trevor Lewis has kindly provided the following information which is supported by data extracted from the Database by Ronnie Jones.

SeniorNet Nelson and SNAP

In 2007 we received a disc of a new database system designed by Brian Thomas of SeniorNet Hutt City which they were making freely available to all SeniorNet groups, the idea being to have a common database for all. It was named SNAP (Senior Net Administration Programme) and was based on Microsoft Access. Nelson trialled this for several months in parallel with our current system which was a simple member list, with all details, in a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet. We liked SNAP so much that there was no hesitation in changing over to it from the beginning of 2008. Fortunately the designer had also worked out how to dump data from Excel into SNAP, so there was no need to laboriously input all our members again, hence a huge saving in effort.

SNAP assigned every member a unique membership ID number and also printed a name tag with name and ID on it. The initial changeover still entailed a lot of work and we had a working bee one morning to achieve this. Ken Cressey who was our treasurer at the time also kept the member spreadsheet up to date and he had gone through this to determine as near as possible the dates when existing members had joined. We used this order when the data went into SNAP so as to maintain the same chronological order and hence the ID assigned to each existing member. 

Therefore the lowest numbers were the original members who started SeniorNet Nelson way back in 1992. A big job was to print all of those name tags, cut them out with the guillotine and insert them in name tag holders, all the while keeping them in alphabetical order, ready to hand out to the members. It was an exciting day made easy with many willing helpers.

Lesley Wilson had put up her hand to be our first Membership Secretary using SNAP and she was efficient and dedicated to this task until she relinquished it in about 2014. We were sorry to see her go but fortunate that Ronnie Jones who had joined in 2012 was persuaded to take over. Ronnie continued as Membership Secretary up to the end in 2023 when SeniorNet Nelson closed its doors for the last time.

SNAP had many useful advantages as not only was it a list of all members, past and present, but also courses held were entered and a monthly invoice generated. By now the SeniorNet Federation had been formed and it had funding to hand out to groups based on Learner Hours. It was a very simple task each month to create an invoice which pulled all the data from each course held during the previous month, listed all these courses on the invoice along with the total Learner hours for each, and multiplied total hours by the hourly rate for that year.

That wasn’t all. The Federation required more statistical data including gender and age group of each student and so at the same time SNAP produced an Enrolment Schedule with student names plus the above information. But wait, there’s more! They also required a spreadsheet with a whole lot more data this time including ethnicity, age group range and dollars claimed for each of different broad category of course. All of this would have been a nightmare without SNAP.

SNAP could produce a range of interesting and useful reports such as all current members, un-financial members, lists of tutors and the courses they had taught, list of courses taught during the current year, to name a few. Especially useful once we became a registered charity, was the annual report which summarised data that we were required to submit annually to Charities Services. This particular report saved the Treasurer an enormous amount of time.

The report on tutors and courses taught was interesting. Looking at two of our peak years, 2013 and 2014, we see that of about 20 Principal tutors at the time, just a handful taught most of the hours. That’s remarkable given that many tutors were also volunteering in other roles. We have been so fortunate to have always had volunteers skilled in many different areas. Such was the enthusiasm and willingness of our 46 tutors at that time that we had to start running three, two-hour classes each day instead of the two as previously. We were in our heyday. For the next few years we stayed busy with more than 30 tutors and steady membership numbers.

When Covid-19 hit it was a blow to our attendance numbers and by then we had fewer volunteers. With the added problem of financial losses it was decided to close the doors in March 2023.

In addition to the Courses charted above, attendance at Interest Groups was strong with hundreds of members interacting each month. Interest Group reports also provided links to further learning.

Trevor Lewis, June 2023

Brian Thomas, the original developer of the first version of SNAP, sadly passed away in 2014. Chris Jared, also of SeniorNet Hutt City then took over and did a major update adding extra features and simplifying some aspects, so that a completely new version was released, followed over the years by more updates. SeniorNet Nelson became one of several SeniorNet groups around the country who tested new versions before general release, looking for any bugs (and yes, we did find several which Chris fixed with his usual efficiency).