For kids, teens, and most younger adults, getting acquainted with their new digital device is “easy peasy.” Most folks, especially under the age of 30 grew up with digital devices of one sort or the other. As a “geezer” (almost 70) I took “typing” class in the 10th grade. Actually it was one of the most practical and useful classes and skills I ever learned. Younger folks today grew up with “keyboarding” classes to learn how to use personal computers. They also have grown up with XBox’s, Playstations and “I” devices like iPhones, iPads and iPod Touches.
But what happens when someone fifty or older gets their first digital device from “Santa”? How do they learn to use it? With a head full of lifetime experiences, responsibilities, and a few “senior moments” thrown in … How are these people supposed to get the most out of their gift?
My last job before retiring 2-1/2 years ago was working for Barnes & Noble. The national bookseller chain found in almost every major city in the USA. I worked for B&N for six years – the last three in selling their Nook digital e-reader. I taught weekly classes, and provided daily one-on-one help to adults and seniors that needed it.
Here are a hand full of tips ‘n tricks I’ve used to help adults and seniors learn how to use digital devices to get the most out of their holiday gift…
- Third Party Books: Head out to your local Barnes & Noble or larger regional or local book seller. Ask where the books on mobile computing are. Don’t be afraid to pick up the “… For Seniors” books. Also the “Idiot” series of books are a good choice. My favorite computing type books are those with lots of photos and drawings (as opposed to lots of words). Don’t buy and download electronic computer books. You definitely want to hold the book in one hand and your new digital device in the other hand. Look at the published date in the first few pages, if it’s more than one year old (current year, plus one year) don’t buy it. Too many things have changed since it was written!
- Adult Education Classes: Check with local public schools, colleges, book stores, churches, and the public library. Most offer free or low-cost getting started classes on how to use mobile digital devices.
- On-Line Classes: There are many on-line services that offer training. Some are local, some are national. A resource that I have used and referred others to is http://www.lynda.com. They offer thousands of courses for a reasonable fee.
- Local Training Company: If you live in a larger city you may want to search for a local computer training company that offers daytime or evening training on mobile digital devices. Check out references and prices.
- One-On-One Trainer or Consultant: This may be the best way to get started. Look in your local newspaper for a classified ad, or ask at the Chamber of Commerce to get a recommendation on an experienced person. Expect to pay an hourly rate of $25 – $75. DON’T use Craig’s list. If you feel uncomfortable meeting in your home with a stranger then meet at a local coffee shop for your one-on-one meetings.
- User Guides: As an Apple enthusiast I’ve found FREE online user guides provided by Apple that are excellent as reference books when you need to learn how to use a new feature or have a tech problem. Using the iBooks app on your iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch or Mac goto the iBooks store and search for something like… “IPhone Users Guide”. The results list should include the users guide, it should be free, and it should be published by Apple.
- User On-Line Forums: If you’re a little more adventurous and have an Apple device you want to goto: https://discussions.apple.com/welcome an look for a users group forum for your particular hardware or software questions.
- Family Member: If you are lucky enough to have a family member who is geeky and uses the same brand and type of device that your have this may a be a good way to get help and a basic overview of how to use your device.
Good luck – and have fun with your new digital device. See… Old dogs CAN learn new tricks!