2 Opportunities for the Elderly to Access Tech Education

In my opinion, there has never been a bigger gap between generations. My grandparents, and even some of my aunts and uncles are having a lot of trouble keeping up with the ever-evolving world of technology. My grandmother thinks Facebook is a clever name for a scrapbook. My grandfather thinks Twitter is a type of interference on his CB radio (yes, seriously, he still has one in his man cave). And Google Analytics is something that most seniors would consider a form of privacy invasion.
How do we bring together the old and the young, when half of the equation isn't even using the internet? One group prefers YouTube and Netflix to tradition TV. The other group probably still has a set of bunny ears for picking up broadcast television channels.
Thankfully, there are tools out there to help get even the most "tech-challenged" among us up to speed. All these tools require is some time, and the willpower necessary for hanging-tough while learning new things.

1.Local Computer Classes

If the thought of explaining how a computer works frightens you, there are probably some tech classes at your local library. Usually these courses are offered free-of-charge, or at a low-cost to cover the cost of supplies. Volunteers help the tech-challenged with the basics of operating a computer, browsing the internet and checking their email.
When I took my grandmother to a session here at our local library, I slipped the instructor a couple bucks to skip the Facebook lesson. Trust me, grandma's a firecracker when it comes to sharing her opinion, and Facebook would be a disaster waiting to happen. Plus, she has some awkward family photos that I would rather avoid immortalizing digitally.

2.One-on-One Instruction

All kidding aside, tech classes for adults are a great, cost-effective resource for learning the basics. For more in-depth learning, there are instructors that offer one-on-one instruction covering a variety of tech topics. These tend to be more expensive than the local community courses, but the individualized attention can make a world of difference.
There are a couple questions you should ask before signing up for individualized instruction:

  • Where will the course take place? (outside the home, in a public location is safer)

  • Can you speak to past students to get their opinion on the course?

  • What specific areas will be covered? What will I be able to do after the course?

  • If I have follow-up questions, can I email the instructor after the session free-of-charge?

  • Is the instructor accredited with an organization? What technical certifications does the instructor hold?

  • How long is the session? Can the session be broken down into two or three shorter sessions? This is important for elderly learners who can be quickly overwhelmed with too much information in a single session.

If you can find a local class that's affordable or free-of-charge, that's always the best place to start. Then, based on needs and experience level of the student, more expensive, individualized sessions can be a great fit. To be honest, once my grandmother knew how to use Google and YouTube, she was able to answer many of her own questions and minimize pestering her instructor with follow-up emails.