Teaching Computer Basics to the Elderly

by andee
12 replies
Hi Warriors

I've been asked by a handful of retirees to teach them computer skills. This will include the basics of working with Windows, surfing the internet, and using email etc.

Now, all this stuff is pretty basic, but having tried teaching before, I found that it's easy to go off on a tangent due to lack of structure, and that resulted in bit of all sorts but nothing in particular.

I could try to write a structured course for these guys, but if anyone knows of prewritten teaching manuals that have tests to monitor progress at the end of certain modules, that would be great. I have searched the internet but haven't found anything specific, hence this post.

Thanks in advance

#basics #computer #elderly #teaching
  • Profile picture of the author Mr. Subtle
    Here's a link to the Video Professor "Learn The Internet" outline:


    You can also check out the course outline for Microsoft Outlook (which can be applied to Thunderbird).

    I'd also check out some of the basic "For Dummies" books. I'm sure they have the internet and email covered in a couple of books.

    Just follow their outlines/setup and eliminate stuff that you think they won't need (which will be quite a bit... if it's a short course).

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    • Profile picture of the author BrittyBritt
      I've been teaching my grandfather how to use the internet (and a cell phone) and sometimes it can be difficult.

      Two of the hardest obstacles I face is going off on a tangent (to the point where he doesn't understand a word I'm saying) or speaking "internet lingo" (to the point where he doesn't understand a word I'm saying lol).

      I would recommend what Mr. Subtle said and to check out Video Professor and the "For Dummies" books. Also, I'm sure a lot of mainstream internet sites, have simple tutorials for learning how to use their products. (Yahoo has a few walk-throughs on how to use their emailing system).

      I would bring an "outline" with me on a notepad or something to cover the topics to avoid going on a tangent. Also remember to go slow as to not overwhelm anyone and to answer any questions they may have.

      Another thing is to get them to do the tasks themselves, such as getting them to send an email instead of them watching you point and click. Hands-on learning seems to be the best
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      • Profile picture of the author webwriter
        Can't recall the authors' names, but do remember seeing books in the library that are focused on things like learning the Internet (for seniors). Each book covers a different aspect and presents information clearly with pictures and easy-to-understand language. I could look that information up for you if you like.
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        • Profile picture of the author andee
          Thanks for all the suggestions guys, i appreciate that Yes, i know that the tangent thing can be a problem because i've experienced this first hand, which is why i was looking for some kind of structure in methodical sequence.

          It might be a good idea to compile a course as i go along, or at least a list of reference points which can be used as anchors to return to when a drifting seems to be happening.

          Thanks once again for the feedback and suggested materials

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          • Profile picture of the author Chantal-Louise
            let me just first start in saying this is a brilliant thing to do. Now i worked a few years ago at an IT branch at a school and we invested in a few books to help people learn about computers and just really the basics. Books i strongly recommend that you get your hands on are absolute beginners guide to computer basics by Michael Miller. Another one we also used is called sams teach yourself computer basics in 24 hours which is by Jill Freeze. Both books are really good. Hope this helps!
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  • Profile picture of the author vem
    One thing to be kept in mind while starting to teach to the elderly about these new technologies is that they are in a completely different mind set. The simple things like mouse and keyboard that we take for granted are greek history to them. You should be able to get into their minds before you can help them. Also they tend to forget things quickly. So there is no surprise if they forget the first day lesson on just the fourth day.
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    • Profile picture of the author cashcowflood
      I couldn't agree with Vem more! When you already know a ton about a particular subject it is easy to forget that others may not have the same knowledge. Too many times in my career have I seen this happen. Just don't forget to keep it on their level.

      It is also good to make visual items to allow them to keep, cheat sheets if you will. Visual items in the room you are teaching in is also a great benefit. Make visuals that show short cut keys, or menu paths. Even "common terms" would be a great visual to have around the room!

      good luck to you!
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  • Profile picture of the author Norma Rickman

    This is a great thing that you're doing. I'm thinking of doing a similar workshop in my own community, because I get lots of "computer help" calls from my parents and their friends.

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    • Profile picture of the author andee
      Hi everyone and thanks for the responses to this thread. I've picked up some useful advice here and reference to a few resources.

      Initially i was thinking of writing my own guides, but there are so many levels with different folks, plus not all have an equal ability to grasp what being taught, so i think the more general approach will be best, using bits of material from a range of books to suit the individual and their needs.


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  • Profile picture of the author mrsadams
    I am doing the same thing now- as our school is specialised in ICT, I have run the session with how to surf internet before, now I will be taeching them how to open an email account and do the chat business :-)) as most of them have kids and grandkids. I will be moving onto how to use online shopping . The third session is to teach how to use word and use short cuts.
    Hope it helps :-)- Ithink first is to get their coordination right, sigh
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  • Profile picture of the author slk
    Great ideas. I think of one thing is to remember that short small lessons is better than 2 or 3 hours where they can get frustrated and quit.
    It's funny how kids will talk about texting on their phones and they do it on the computer. An adult wants to spell everything out and seniors are usually the same way until they understand the language.
    It is like learning a new skill, it takes new vocabulary and different skills. Hope this helps.
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  • Profile picture of the author gjabiz
    the book:

    Access Green Tree Press, Inc.

    An outline to follow:

    Computers4Seniors.org: Cobb Senior Services in Cobb County, Georgia

    As a teacher for New Horizons Computer Training Center I used specific COURSEWARE.
    As a teacher for a Community Technology Center in Akron, OH, I developed COURSEWARE.

    With Seniors, you need to have a CHECKLIST, so they can see their progress, and the checklist serves as a "cheat sheet", with step by step instructions they can use when you leave...

    you could do very well in this area.

    Develop your own COURSEWARE, and it could be a product you sell to other teachers.

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