Teaching Seniors Technology

Thank you to everyone who attended the NEO-RLS webinar on Teaching Seniors Technology!  I really enjoyed talking with all of you and sharing ideas.

Below is the supplemental information I promised during the webinar today:


Seniors Learning Technology from Caring.com

Helping Seniors Learn New Technology from The New York Times

Old Brains Learning New Things by Simply Seniors

Why Old People Have a Hard Time Learning New Things by Embrace Possibility

Older Adults and Technology Use by Pew Research Center

Designing for the Elderly:  Ways Older People Use Digital Technology Differently by Smashing Magazine

Summary of Some Ways RRPL Makes Classes More Senior Friendly

  • Make them comfortable coming to class.  During registration, give directions be enthusiastic.  Make reminder calls and tell them what they need to bring (login and password, fully-charged device, sweater, etc.).  Greet them at the door and have music playing.  Give them “permission” to take classes more than once.
  • Talk to them.  Why are they coming to class?  What are their interests?
  • Counter negative thoughts about tech and be a cheerleader for it.
  • Be prepared to handle their limitations.  Where will you place wheelchairs, walkers, canes, and helper dogs?  Stock roller-ball mice and touch screens.  Use comfortable chairs.  Talk loudly.  Use large fonts on screens, PowerPoints, and handouts.  Use detailed verbal queues along with pointing to the screen.
  • Add fun to the class.  Smile and use humor.  Make light of your own mistakes. Take a break in the middle of class.  Use their interests (health, travel, family, etc.) for events and in-class examples.
  • Give them notes to take home.  Step-by-step handouts.  Give them activities to try on their own.

Accelerated Learning

What is Accelerated Learning?

What is Accellerated Learning? by AL Center

Book: The Accelerated Learning Handbook by Dave Meier

AL Activities Used at RRPL

  • Family Tree of Android Manufacturers (Groups worked together to come up with Brands, write them on leaves, and add them to the tree.)
  • Timeline of Technology (Groups worked together to guess what years technology events happened and added them to a timeline.)
  • Jeopardy Game (Used to summarize a week long “tech camp.”
  • Trivia Games (Groups compete for prizes.  They love candy bars as prizes.)
  • Google Train (To summarize what they know about Google, groups created train cars with different Google products.)
  • Streaming Balls (To show how streaming works, passed balls through the crowd at different rates.)
  • Candy (Candy is not only used for prizes, but also as incentive to participate.)
  • Hands-on classes are more difficult to use AL activities due to the nature of imparting knowledge upon the students.  The way we incorporate AL into the hands-on classes is to ask more questions and incorporate interests.  “How do we make the word “flag” bold?  This also encourages students that know more to participate in class.  Instead of telling the class that we are going to go to Google and search for “Birds,” ask the class what they would like to use for searching.

AL Resources

Book:  Telling Ain’t Training

Book:  The Creative Training Idea Book: Inspired Tips and Techniques for Engaging and Effective Learning

Book:  Creative Learning: Activities and Games That REALLY Engage People

Resource: 5 most useful free online sources for training activities by Delivery Matters (Even though many resources do not specifically address technology training, I find they are helpful in giving us ideas.)




Best Practices in Technology Training

Thank you to everyone who attended Best Practices in Technology Training!  I really enjoyed meeting all of you and sharing information.

Here is the resource list I promised  you:

Libraries that share handouts/resources:

Akron Summit County Libraries http://www.akronlibrary.org/training/handouts.html

Denver Public Library https://www.denverlibrary.org/ctc-classes

Jacksonville Public Library http://jaxpubliclibrary.org/EServices/catalog.html#topic10

New York Public Library (Tech Connect) https://sites.google.com/a/nypl.org/techconnect/home

OLC – Class Handouts and Downloads https://olcrisd.wordpress.com/helping-each-other-out-class-handouts-and-downloads/

Providence Public Library http://www.provlib.org/computer-class-handouts

Web Junction Resource Info for Technology Training (Includes some older handouts from Rocky River Public Library’s Computer Breakfast Series) https://www.webjunction.org/content/dam/WebJunction/Documents/webJunction/Training-Programs.docx

Reading material:

The Accelerated Learning Handbook, by Dave Meier


The opportunity did not arise to talk about the webinars we are doing at our library.  We have two series of webinars.

The first is called Find Out Friday and is usually the last Friday of the month at 10 am.  It focuses on a website.

The second series is called The Apps Show and is every other Monday at 1:00 pm.  This series is on hiatus for the summer and will start again in September.

Our webinars and recorded Computer Breakfast Series events can be found on our Livestream account:  www.livestream.com/rrpl.  Feel free to explore!

Being a Trainer: What Do I Need to Know?

On Friday, December 13, 2013, I was asked to speak at Staff Day for the Euclid Public Library.  As a follow-up to that presentation, below are notes about the discussion that took place.  The notes are from my memory, so if you have anything to add, please comment.


  • Materials (Handouts, PowerPoint Presentations, etc.):  Use color and make them fun!
  • “The Dance”:  Prepare the flow of the class such as questions to ask and samples to use.
  • Environment:  Add color and make it fun!
  • You:  Wear comfortable clothes that you feel good in.  Add colors!
  • Greet Students:  Greet your students outside the door and introduce yourself.
  • Music:  Have music playing in the room.  Walking into a quiet room can unsettle people.
  • Contacting Students:  If able, contact students ahead of time and tell them what to expect (where class is located, any obstacles (traffic/construction), what to bring, etc.).  A pre-class survey could also be given to assess knowledge or gather some information before class.


  • Relax:  You know more!
  • Parking Lot:  Create a Parking Lot for questions
  • Time:  Start on Time/End on Time
  • Knowledge Levels:  Incorporate attendees with higher levels of knowledge by asking questions rather than just spewing out information.
  • Staff Safety:  If you are concerned about safety make sure windows are open for visibility and stand outside the door as attendees exit.
  • Seniors:  Speak loudly and make print on screen and in handouts larger.
  • Vary Activities:  Vary activities to different learning styles:  Auditory, Visual, and Hands-On Learners.
  • Fun:  Classroom laughter is one of the best tools in the classroom – it adds fun and creates rapport.  Incorporate games into learning.  Oh, and give out CHOCOLATE – a great way to encourage participation.

Post Activities

  • Summarize:  Let attendees put together the summarization.
  • Job Aids:  Pass out job aids that can be posted for quick reference.
  • Survey:  Survey attendees on the classroom experience.
  • Follow Up:  Use Emails, Blogs, or Wikis to give additional information and/or start a conversation.

Additional Materials

Training Tips from the Trainer’s Warehouse (The pink handout from the end of the session.):  http://www.trainerswarehouse.com/trainingtips.asp

Ten Tips for New Trainers/Teachers:  http://headrush.typepad.com/creating_passionate_users/2005/07/ten_tips_for_ne.html

The Spice Rack (Great training tips.  Scroll down for the menu.):  http://www.thetrainingoasis.com/ezine.html#presentation (There is a charge for information.)


Shoutcast:  http://www.shoutcast.com/

Pandora:  http://www.pandora.com/

Martini in the Morning:  http://martiniinthemorning.com/page.php?9

Transitioning from Adult Learners to Learners of All Ages

With our new Strategic Plan in place for the next 5 years, the Training Department has been asked to broaden Computer Training to learners of all ages.  It is interesting how those things in life we avoided seem to sometimes come back.  All three of the ladies in my department are degreed educators.  We all have degrees in a field of secondary education and have taught in high schools at some point.  And, we all three chose the path of teaching adults.

So, what do we do at this point?  Well, first of all, we need to remember that this is not an endeavor for our department alone.  The children’s department and the teen librarian are all in this with us.  We will be relying on them heavily to remind us of the mindset of the younger generations and the ways they learn.

Yes, children do learn differently than adults.  I have known that for years and had a reminder of it recently.  Children are concrete thinkers.  A parent asked if their 10-year-old could take one of the adult computer classes.  After some discussion, I let the girl come to class with a parent.  I knew it was not a good situation when the girl asked a question and the room laughed.  It was a lighthearted laugh admiring the innocence of the girl; however, perception could be different.  I also find that sometimes seniors may feel intimidated by the younger generation.  So, at that point in time, the classes were kept adult computer classes.

The second point I think we need to remember is to keep the “fun” in training.  Children sit in a classroom environment a good portion of the year.  They are probably not actively seeking another classroom environment; although, the parents may have a different idea.

Finally, we need to keep our positive attitudes. No matter how we feel about the situation, it is something that is going to move forward.  I think we are doing this well.

As the project unfolds, I will post updates as to what we are doing and what works.  Suggestions are welcome! 🙂

Teching Up Your Library or Training

At the Computers In Libraries conference in Washington DC, I am in a session on Teching Up Your Library Programs. I think that sums up my experiences at the conference.

Each presentation gives me ideas on how I can use more technology tools in training. Sometimes we get very set in the ways we do things, and hearing what others are doing opens our eyes to improvement.

Lately, one of the trainers in my department has been having a lot of personal training on using a Nook with library eBooks. In a session I realized creating a video may help many of the patrons. Seems simple enough, but attending conferences and sharing information opens our eyes to possibilities.

Avatar in Training – Follow-Up Information

The “Avatar in Training” program this morning was phenominal.   Thank you to everyone that attended and participated!

As promised, below is the follow-up information for the program:

SLIDESHOW:  http://bit.ly/9K4aID

SL EDUCATION WIKI:  http://www.simteach.com/wiki/index.php?title=Second_Life_Education_Wiki

LOCATIONS DISCUSSED:  (The SLURL will direct you to a website that will allow you to teleport to the location in Second Life.  If you do not have an account with Second Life, you cannot use the SLURL.)

Vassar College:

Bowling Green:

Ohio State – Women’s Studies:

St. John’s College:

Sprott-Shaw College:

Rockcliffe University:


Virtual Hallucinations:

Frank Lloyd Wright Virtual Museum:

David Rumsey Maps:

Check back.  I will be posting more information that we did not get to in the session.  This information should be here by Monday.

Enjoy Exploring!