Introducing Technology – 5 important ideas to bear in mind

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Introducing Technology – 5 important ideas to bear in mind

Posted on February 11, 2010

It is a noble goal to make sure that older people are not excluded from the benefits of technological advances. Technology and information technology in particular are playing an increasingly important role in the lives of older people as it is incorporated into assistive devices, home security, access to health care, banking, communication and many other areas. However, older people are very often unfamiliar with new technologies and find them daunting because of the newness itself but also different impairments they may have.
As adults get older, they face somatic restrictions (such as eyesight, hearing, motor control) and as well as cognitive restrictions (such as information processing, memory, multitasking). These restrictions also affect the reading and understanding of technical documentation. These are sometimes reasons why they may not benefit fully from these advances. In order to minimize difficulties arising from unfamiliarity with technology, the way the technology is introduced is of major importance. Understanding the challenges raised by the unfamiliar nature of technology is therefore of major importance when introducing technology.

From cell phones, to computers and digital cameras, introduction sessions need to bear in mind important teaching methods:

  • Avoid threats: Forcing something new on someone is obviously bound to fail. Remember also to avoid using threatening vocabulary which might not be understood; to do so, do not hesitate to rename commonly used technological words using vocabulary that seniors might relate to
  • Small sessions: Smaller groups help the instructors ensure that everyone is on the same page. It also creates better opportunities for group discussions. Shorter time period also helps everyone to stay focused.
  • Same age cohort: If several age brackets are available, it’s good to break them down in different sessions as some might be quicker than others. Also, different people from the same age share the same lingo and behaviors making it easier to see patterns in the assimilation
  • Adapted presentation style: Presentation needs to embrace a pace that is comfortable for everyone and offer ample opportunity to ask questions. Doing this helps people share their experiences while decreasing the amount of support in the future.
  • Make it a fun event: Make it fun!!! As always, bringing fun, taking the time to joke around helps soothe the atmosphere and remove stress: relaxed people are more keen on learning and being open minded.

In a next post: Ambassador programs, how to initiate, create and support them!