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Computer Lessons for Seniors: Does it Compute?

By Joseph, published on 17/01/2018 Blog > Academia > Information Technology > Computer Lessons for Seniors

In the last five years, older age groups have increasingly started using the internet. However, with over 4 million over-65s in the UK having never used the internet, the majority of senior citizens lack the basic computer skills that are commonplace in the modern age.

While it’s the one of the most important things of the 21st century, the internet is largely (and wrongly) considered a young person’s tool. It can be very difficult to encourage the older generations to learn basic computer skills and even harder to teach them to become IT technicians through IT courses. This mindset has resulted in many brands and developers largely ignoring older potential customers because they believe they lack digital literacy.

While mobility can be an issue in the real world, it’s almost non-existent on the web once you’ve learnt the internet basics. After you take a few computer classes and learn how to use a mouse and keyboard, you’ll find that staying in contact with family members has never been so easy. You can even order your groceries online and have them all delivered to your home with just a few clicks of the mouse. Let’s not forget that there are also apps to keep your brain active.

Some members of the older generation remain reluctant to take IT tutorials and learn more about computers in general because they can’t really see the benefits immediately. Superprof has some advice for those who’d like to learn some computer basics in a fun and enjoyable way!

Take Private Tutorials to Learn about IT

This is probably the best method for teaching older generations about computing in a fun and enjoyable way. There’s nothing better than meeting an IT expert face-to-face (whether they’re an IT master’s student, IT technician, or developer) in order to learn more about their subject.

If you feel like you’re constantly repeating yourself when telling your grandparents how to use their computer, it’s probably because you’re not an experienced teacher or you gloss over steps that are obvious to you but not them. Private IT tutors have the necessary basic skills of teaching to ensure everything goes in.

It’s also much easier to learn something when you know what your learning objectives are. A good number of the older generation often hear things like:

“You won’t get it”, “you’re too old to learn about computers”, or “IT isn’t really for your generation”.

How much do private computer tutors cost? You’re never too old to learn. If you get stuck, you can always get a private tutor. (Source: pixabay.com)

This couldn’t be further from the truth. The older generations are just as capable as the younger ones when it comes to learning about IT and saying things like this only serves to discourage them.

Thanks to private IT tutorials, a quality tutor can catch them up with computers and adapt their sessions to their learning style. They can go over the basics that are so obvious to those who grew up with computers (right click, double click, download, save, etc.).

While there may be a generational gap between the baby boomers who are mainly retired and millennials who’ve grown up with computers, computing could be a great way to bring the two generations closer together.

There are several different types of class for IT beginners:

  • Introduction to IT tutorials where they can learn to type, save documents, etc.

  • Improving their knowledge of computers (processors, hard disks, peripherals, app development)

  • Training for specific programmes (word processors, spreadsheets, powerpoints, etc.)

  • Help creating their own websites

  • Digital culture training

Where can I get computer science lessons? Get to know your computer. (Source: stock.tookapic.com)

If this is of interest to you, why not consider offering tutorials over webcam? It’s a good way to help those who might otherwise struggle to get out of the house to attend classes. It’s far more useful to them than a book full of jargon they’ll never understand.

For those who are really keen to learn more about IT, why not offer classes in programming or coding for websites? You’ll be surprised at how quickly old dogs can learn new tricks!

IT Tutorials for Keeping in Contact

In the last five years, older age groups have increasingly started using the internet. However, those who’ve never used the internet still remain the majority with 4 million over-65s in the UK having never used the internet.

Generally speaking, the older generation is less likely to own mobile devices (such as smartphones and tablets) or computers. There are very few seniors who have both a computer and a mobile device.

There is a significant number of seniors who have the ability to access the internet but choose not to and there are also those who have no chance of accessing the internet. However, thanks to online computer courses and in-home IT tutorials, seniors can be kept in the digital loop:

  • With their former colleagues through Skype.

  • With their children, grandchildren, and other family members through social media.

  • With associations and groups.

  • With the news through various websites.

Teaching them how to make a website would be a great way to help them learn more about IT. This could be really useful for:

  • Encouraging them to use computers on a daily basis.

  • Using their new skills (typing, downloading photos, sharing things on social media, etc.)

  • Continuing their computing training on the web.

Here’s some advice for ensuring that seniors remain motivated during their tutorials:

  • Plan regular breaks to ensure they remain focused.

  • Focus on the benefits of the skills they’re learning with concrete examples (buying online, managing accounts using Excel, etc.)

  • Take them through every step of the process while ensuring that they’re allowed to do the work. Make sure that they’re operating the computer and not you.

  • Make sure that all the programmes they’ll be using are easy to access on their desktop.

Free Computer Courses and Lessons on the Web!

If they already know how to browse the world wide web, they can continue learning how to use their personal computer or laptop on their own with useful video lessons. There’s a plethora of useful resources on how to use computer technology on websites like YouTube.

Additionally, there are free IT tutorials explaining specific concepts and functions such as:

  • Operating Systems (Windows, Mac OS, Ubuntu (Linux))

  • Essential programmes

  • Internet connections (networks and WiFi, for example)

  • Browsing the internet (opening windows, tabs, searching, etc.)

  • Using keyboards, mice, and touchpads
    There are also videos covering more advanced topics and computing as a subject with information on things such as:

  • Learning more about binary. Did you know that 9 is written as 1001 in binary?

  • How 8 bits make up a byte. This can used to represent a letter just like 01001010 represents the letter J

  • IT architecture including information on how microprocessors, hard disks, and memory work.

  • Programming languages.

How do you browse the web? Navigating the web is easier than you first might think. (Source: rawpixel.com)

There are so many useful free video resources available on the internet for those wanting to learn more about IT. This is free training that everyone should make use of!

Other Resources for Seniors wanting to Learn about IT

There are plenty of organisations whose mission is to help seniors improve their computing skills by offering:

  1. IT lessons

  2. Help with creating CVs and looking for work (a lot of seniors struggle to find work because they lack the necessary IT skills required).

  3. Help with creating websites

  4. Lessons on how to use modern communication devices such as smartphones, tablets, and laptops.

These organisations aim to alleviate the effect of digital exclusion whereby older generations have little or no access to modern technologies nor the ability to use them.

In addition to the programmes designed for the elderly, there are also websites with lessons to help them learn more about computers and even programmes to simplify computers for first-time users.

Here are some examples of the different things they could learn about: “Computer maintenance tasks”, “using a USB key or external hard drive”, “using computers, tablets, or smartphones for beginners”, or even “using Linux”.

How do you use a tablet? When you learn to use computers, you should also learn to use tablets and smartphone. (Source: kaboompics.com)

The site Skillfull Senior, for example, teaches the older generation the basics of using their computer and includes animated tutorials showing them how to do things like:

  • Holding the mouse

  • Ergonomics so that they can use their computer without causing unnecessary physical pain.

In addition to the animations, the tutorials also include a voiceover so that they can listen to what they have to do.

There are also plenty of IT Training courses for the elderly run by Age UK so that they can start using the internet.

There’s also Barclays Bank’s Digital Eagles programme which includes online training sessions or in-branch sessions. There are plenty of different sessions depending on which IT skills they’re wanting to learn.

For example, with Barclays Bank’s Digital Eagles, you can learn fundamental skills such as:

  • Setting up an email account

  • Doing your shopping online

  • Searching the internet safely

  • How to stay safe online

  • Using YouTube

  • Using Skype

It should be remembered that seniors learn to use the internet as a useful tool rather than a source of fun like the younger generations tend to. Hopefully this information has been useful in helping you either plan IT tutorials for the elderly or has given you some useful information for helping seniors learn more about computing.

Or, even better: it has inspired to to take computer programming courses yourself!

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