I have been preparing to teach a new group of elder’s basic computer skills. I was recently asked to invite one of the elders who had already taken classes to come and visit with the elders preparing to take their first classes. Some of the elders have questions and who better to answer their questions but another elder. I tried to pick out several participants that I felt would be comfortable in front of a group. What I would like to share is some of the comments from two of my previous participants. The first one is not going to be able to come because of health reasons. She told me that the internet was now a necessary and I had made it easy for the group to know by providing shortcuts. I also put all their passwords in notebooks for them. They however picked out their own passwords and knew not to share their information. She had no previous experience on computers but quickly learned how to use Windows, email, Facebook and online health resources. She became our researcher – looking up alternative medicine and learning about her health issues and medicine. She still uses the internet but uses her smartphone. Living where she does – in the country – it is easier and more affordable to stay connected on her phone – she tells me. I’m unsure if she continues to use Facebook because she was not a huge fan. The other elder will be going with me to speak, even though she has health problems too. She loved almost everything about learning about computers, internet and cried when she saw pictures of babies on Facebook. She visits with her sister on the telephone almost every day but loved the ability to send emails to her sister and relatives. The good news is she is very excited about talking to the elders, answering their questions and yes, there will be food. When you are an elder and you are teaching or visiting an elder center at lunch – lunch is free. I believe that she is also going to repeat her classes with the new elders too. That is the main goal of technology, training and internet for elders. Most elders, especially homebound elders are isolated. It is possible with simple training, they can connect with relatives, classmates, war buddies and much more. It is very humbling to be a small part of their training. The tribe we will be working with is the Pawnee Tribe of Oklahoma and the final goal of the Title VI (Elder Program) director is that the elders will share stories and record them on the computers. The project will also be placing at least two desktop computers in the Title VI building where WIFI will be present. The director has said that the building may be used by the community and all ages.
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