Lifelong Learning in the Digital Age

For older adults, learning computer skills can be like learning a foreign language. It’s not their native tongue and at first all those tech phrases, like mousepad, cut/paste, and “right click,” seem like nonsensical babble. That’s what Don thought the first time he came to a LifeSTEPS computer class.

Don, unlike many older adults living in affordable housing, actually did own a computer. Most of the time it sat on his desk in his living room, untouched–a foreign object in his otherwise comfortable living room. Every so often he would turn it on, making sure it still worked, but that is as far as his skills would take him. The only purpose it served was to remind Don just how out of touch he had become with the rapidly evolving world around him. It left Don feeling old and obsolete.

LifeSTEPS’ Director of Social Services, Evangelina, encouraged Don to come to a computer class. At first Don was reluctant to show up; he had really enjoyed LifeSTEPS’ social gatherings–the Walk-a-thon, Bingo, and Brain Teaser Game Nights–but computers? Computers represented all he didn’t know–a mysterious alien land he wasn’t sure he could conquer. Evangelina was persuasive and eventually wore his resistance down. When the new computer classes started Don was ready to swallow his pride, and his fear, and give it a go.

To his amazement it didn’t take long before Don was confidently using Microsoft programs, email, and typing on the keyboard. He was a diligent learner–he took each new skill he learned in class, went home, dusted off the computer, and practiced.  Now he looks forward each month to the skill that will be taught next–Word, PowerPoint, Excel. After six months of classes, the totally unexpected happened–Don is co-teaching the computer class alongside Evangelina!

Don is very appreciative of all he has learned from LifeSTEPS and the encouragement he received from Evangelina. He said, “Because of her persistence and patience, I was able to be comfortable around other residents, improve my computer skills, and become a confident member of my community.”

Don is now a huge advocate for his fellow residents who are also non-native computers users. Don knows how they feel–but he also knows it’s never too late to learn new skills and evolve with the changing times.


2 responses to "Lifelong Learning in the Digital Age"

  1. peggy says:

    What a wonderful success Evangelina – the City of San Jose and each of our M-Family sites are participating in a resident survey to study the digital divide why and how to overcome it.

  2. Jessica Calvillo says:

    Such a great story!

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