Above: Photo by Pixabay
As the pace of technology education increases, it becomes increasingly difficult to keep up. Just as you thought you’ve mastered the latest upgraded iPhone operating system, another one gets downloaded and you have to start all over again.
New terms and concepts get thrown around and you have no idea what they mean, such as:
- Two factor authentications
- Mesh networks
- Virtual private networks
New devices pop up and you don’t begin to know how to cope. What are “smart home” devices? Do you really need a network-based thermostat? Who is this “Alexa” that people talk to? The only way to keep up is to get educated.
Why do we need advice, training and support?
Before we get to where to find tech education, training and assistance, it’s useful to describe the sorts of issues that you may be confronting. Here is a short description of the types of issues older adults need to confront.
- Advice on hardware or software to purchase or use: “I need a new computer or an application. How do I make the right selection?
- Learning to useapplications or apps: “Gmail just changed its interface and I don’t know how to use it.” “I just downloaded the Uber app on my phone but now what?”
- In-depth training:“I haven’t used Excel in years and now I need to start fundraising for my local Animal Humane Society. I need a course in Excel quick!”
- Equipment installation:“I just got a smart TV but I don’t know how to connect it to my wi-fi network.”
- Specific problem solving: “How do I transfer a map from my computer to my phone?” “I have pictures on my phone and I want to print them.”
What services and support are designed specifically for seniors?
Local senior centers are great places to get support that is focused on seniors. There are many senior centers located throughout the Atlanta metropolitan area, and they all offer courses that, among other things, provide some training in technology. For a list of area senior centers, visit atlantaseniorlife.com and click on Resources.
BH Technology, bhtechgroup.org, is a nonprofit organization that offers classes and private lessons in the use of technology. Focusing primary on smart devices like the iPhone and iPad, these instructional opportunities provide a great way to learn and to meet other seniors who face the same issues that you do.
Techboomers, techboomers.com, offers hundreds of courses and how to videos on almost every technology subject under the sun. These are all geared to seniors. If you can handle browsing on the internet, Techboomers is the first place to look for help.
Resources for a more general audience
When it comes to technology classes, assistance will vary depending on your interests and skills. All of the colleges and universities in the Atlanta area offer courses that are suitable for seniors. There are also many internet-based organizations offering courses, some for a fee while others are free. A good place to start is Udemy, at udemy.com. If you want to learn coding, for example to develop apps, these institutions are the places to go.
Libraries offer training opportunities — and they also have books. In addition, you can use their computers to browse the internet.
The results here are hit or miss. My experience is that the Apple and Microsoft Stores scattered in the Atlanta area do a superb job. They will provide advice on purchases and also offer group classes and individual tutorials. Cellphone stores are more problematic, and I hesitate to send folks there. Big box stores like Target, Best Buy and Costco will offer support — but be careful!
The big technology companies like Apple, Microsoft, Google Amazon and the like all have extensive support components. It used to be that when you bought a device or software, you got a manual. Today, you either get a web address to get help or assistance. Sometimes the best way to start learning is to ask Google!
YouTube deserves special mention as it contains millions of videos with wonderful advice. Rather than providing written materials, you get to watch a video with the solution. A special YouTube site for technology is Tech Gumbo, which specializes in technology.
Other web-based sites
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