I had a great phone conversation with my Mom yesterday. We always talk about the latest BC Lions game (I now owe her THREE appetizers), how the families are, and what’s going on for each of us personally. This time, we also talked about banking technology.
The conversation progressed from her frustration with her bank to the latest trends in business and technology. She feels left out. Really left out. The letter sent by her Credit Union assumed she would be happy to complete her renewal online. She mentioned that she often talks with my stepdad about how much things are changing, and how quickly. Our culture assumes that seniors are happy to do their thing, while the world does ours.
We discussed the difference between being a senior today and a generation ago. My mom’s generation lives longer, stays active, and has much more wealth than any previous generation.They want to be included, even though it’s a huge challenge to keep up. Their parents passed the baton and moved on to activities to keep them busy for a few years until their health deteriorated. Today, that can be a very long wait. I think we’re missing out by excluding baby-boomer seniors from business, social activities … and education.
In my PIDP program, we talk a lot about the use of technology and the latest theories on adult education, especially for millennials. We rarely, if ever, talk about teaching seniors. Why not? Do we assume that there’s no interest? That they’ve had their chance? That today’s pace and technology is too big a hurdle? I came across an interesting news item that reveals a real need for education to this demographic. Enter “The Gadget Guides”.
The Gadget Guides is a company formed by millennial entrepreneurs Moe Elmaleh, Corey Freeman, and Ami Moyal focused on helping seniors learn how to use technology to stay connected via smartphones, tablets, and computers. It started when Moyal noticed his grandparents desperately relied on FaceTime to connect with family from outside of the country.
“They were clinging to technology because they needed it – it was all they had,” said Moyal. “At that point I thought, why don’t all seniors do this.”
There is a need, desire, and opportunity for rich, two-way learning for today’s seniors in formal, informal, and commercial education. Many of our colleges and universities now have active ElderCollege programs. For example, the Vancouver Island University (VIU) website states that thousands of seniors have taken advantage of their programs, and courses fill up fast. As educators, I hope we remember that there are opportunities to reach a large demographic in seniors – a group who are far too young to simply be left out of the loop.
- Bogart, N. (2015, October 27). Meet the millennial entrepreneurs teaching seniors how to use tech. Retrieved from Global News: http://globalnews.ca/news/2301922/meet-the-millennial-entrepreneurs-teaching-seniors-how-to-use-tech/
- Vancouver Island University. (2013). VIU.ca. Retrieved from VIU ElderCollege: view-source:https://www2.viu.ca/eldercollege/