The South Florida Institute on Aging (SoFIA) saw an opportunity to connect older adults using technology. The program received a grant for older adults to receive tablets with a data plan built in, since many older adults don’t have internet in their homes. To help these learners get started on their new tablets, SoFIA showed them how to take their first GetSetUp class - the New Member Orientation.
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These classes aren’t just helping learners to connect with a larger global community but also to connect to other members of their own senior community while their center remains closed. Tony is one of these such learners. He had never been on the internet before 2019. At that time he started computer classes at the community center. He could only access the internet at the community center so when the pandemic hit he became very isolated and prior to that he had never used Zoom.
“Now every day I go on Zoom.”
Now he regularly has meetings with friends from the senior center that he’s met in GetSetUp classes on Zoom. Ed and Sharon are planning a fishing trip together with Tony as soon as that’s safely feasible for them.
Getting connected on Zoom took a bit of time but Tony was tenacious. Kathy Leone, who helps to organize the program, would meet with him ahead of time. At first, she would connect about 15 minutes early via phone to help Tony get online. Slowly this time ahead of each Zoom call dwindled until now he doesn’t need it at all and is an expert on Zoom!
Tony knows that it can be daunting to start something new.
“The hardest part was really getting into it. Once you get into it you have to keep going cause you have to keep learning. Don’t let yourself get overloaded, create healthy boundaries and take breaks.”
Tony wasn’t afraid to come early to learn more and stay late to get his questions answered. He was patient with himself as well which is essential. He knew that sometimes it takes practice and multiple tries to learn something new. So, he didn’t let needing those same things with the internet deter him.
“That’s what made all the success!”
Once Tony learned the skill it opened a whole new world for him. What was the first thing he did? He researched online and bought a jukebox!
Tony has really enjoyed being exposed to the internet. Now he uses it for all kinds of things from searching for affordable 78s to researching old movies and recipes. He often spends a good amount of time cruising the world on Google Maps. He likes to look at different places or searching out Google images of where he used to live. But one of his favorite things is taking classes on GetSetUp.
“Classes are great. I am learning, experiencing, and doing things. I like having a visual reality check of all the technology that is out there and learning about it.”
While Tony thinks all the classes are his favorites some of them are extra fun. He particularly enjoys Deb’s classes on cooking. While he doesn’t drink he doesn’t mind marinating good meat in a nice wine to add some flavor!
He thinks those who are just getting started with the internet should focus on taking some of the technology classes so they feel more comfortable with the tech. Then he recommends learners get up and out of their seats to dance to African and Caribbean dance music.
“I took my first yoga class yesterday and I’m still aching. I want to get back into exercising regularly like this. I plan to try some of the strength training classes next.”
Kathy has noted that of their 50 seniors who are active in their community all of them have really taken to the internet and the majority are continuing learning through GetSetUp. Most of them are actively participating in GetSetUp classes.
Kathy said, “Our learners get a little competitive. They get to know each other and find connections. Then sometimes they are competing to see who can take the most classes!”
One of the group’s learners Jane has taken over 100 classes already! Tony isn’t worried about the competitive factor though.
“She’s learning and that’s the main thing!” he said.
Since their senior center is still not open, GetSetUp has provided a chance for Tony to explore and stay active.
“There’s always something new to see in classes. Each class builds on your basic knowledge of a computer. You can start small with a smartphone and work your way up with new skills to a computer or bigger device.”
As Tony explores the world he’s finding adventure right from his home. He’s enjoyed classes with guides from Australia keeping him learning fun new things to explore!
Join Tony and other learners in the GetSetUp community to see what adventures you can explore from your home!