• globalhazinginitiative

Who are you calling an old dog??

Tips for Teaching Technology to Anyone

We've all struggled with new technology - whether we are 15 or 50. Now that our parents are isolating more and wanting to stay more in touch, we are needing to expand tech uptake to older populations. In some cases if we are lucky we can teach this in person, in other cases we are attempting to do this remotely.

One case in point - a 90 year old grandmum is sitting at home in isolation with three paper checks she can't take to the bank. Many in the US who do not have direct deposit or electronic filings are finding themselves with stimulus checks they can't do anything with, unless they risk exposure by heading out the bank. How do you not only get the first step of the banking app onto her phone, but then walk her through all the steps to deposit it online? The task can be daunting.

Here are some tips to help navigate new technology with populations who may not have used in the past:

  • When introducing new concepts, build on existing knowledge. It helps to relate to something they understand. In the case of a check you can share how the process is similar to what they have done in the past (sign check, add bank account number...) before introducing what's changing.

  • Explain the relevance of the step before going into detail. Again, studies show that adoption of new ideas increases when there is understanding of why each step is done.

  • Avoid technical jargon and use consistent language. A helpful trick is to have a list of terms and their definitions handy.

  • Make lists! Create flow charts and key steps. Training may take more than one time. You can create a step by step guide, share in advance and provide them the opportunity to ask questions, take notes, and refer to the steps. If you number your steps, it will be easier if you get a response "I am having trouble with Step 3"

  • Be mindful your pace and reinforce key concepts. Learning fatigue is real, so don't always try and cover all steps in one session - break it up and reinforce previous steps. Patience is key :)

  • Build in regular time for questions. Allowing for questions does not force the learner to have to ask, or feel as if they are bothering you, or feel like they are a slow learner.

  • Rinse and repeat. Repetition in any learning situation is key!


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