Photo: A screen shot from the new tech training calendar for seniors located on CTN’s website.
As Home Connect participants learn to access the internet and the information highway, staff trainers and digital coaches incorporate many online resources into their training. CTN has developed an online training calendar as an additional resource for older adults to identify and easily access new websites.
The calendar includes upcoming online events hosted by organizations suggested to us from our Home Connect program participants, our training partners, and from our own staff trainers and volunteer digital coaches. These sites are vetted by CTN and determined to be user-friendly, enabling older adult learners to register and join discussions, tech trainings, social activities, and health and recreation opportunities. This ultimately increases their confidence when accessing the internet and opens new vistas for them.
Home Connect is designed to provide a finite number of training encounters for the older adult learner — 5 hours with a staff trainer and generally 8 to 12 hours with their digital coach. At the end of the one-to-one training sessions, the trainers and coaches move on to assist newly enrolled learners, although CTN remains a resource for further questions or guidance.
We are finding that learners experience “separation anxiety” as their number of sessions with their digital coach dwindles. For our senior learners, these training sessions have become more than just computer training. Most learners describe their relationship with their trainers as gaining a new family member (probably as a pseudo grandchild, given the average age of the digital coaches). Seniors look forward to these weekly virtual visits and don’t want them to end. Our calendar is intended to serve as a security blanket for the older adult, making them less stressed as their structured training draws to a close.
If you would like your organization’s online events included in this calendar or if you know of an online resource that may be of interest to an isolated older adult, please contact CTN’s program manager, Stephen Minor, at email@example.com.