Connecting Seniors Through Every Citizen Online

By Amanda Murphy

Tech Wise, L.L.C. knows seniors. It specializes in training senior citizens through more than 60 computer courses targeted to help seniors learn technology skills. When Bill Boxler, co-owner of Tech Wise, was made aware of Connect Ohio’s Every Citizen Online free computer and Internet training program for Ohio adults, he knew it was a great fit for his organization.

“Tech Wise has partnered with Lake County Council on Aging since our inception in 2007 to provide computer instruction to area seniors at the county’s 11 senior centers,” said Boxler. “We started working with Connect Ohio to bring the Every Citizen Online program here to Lake County by bringing instructors, portable computer labs, and a portable Internet connection to each senior center.”

Through a collaborative partnership between Tech Wise, Lake County Council on Aging, and Connect Ohio, Boxler and other Tech Wise computer class instructors are introducing about 50 senior adults each month to the technology of computers and the Internet.

“Teaching seniors is a whole different style,” said Boxler.

When introducing senior adults to technology, Boxler has learned there are barriers that need to be overcome in order to be successful. These barriers include fear, the magnitude of various topics and skills accessible with computer use, and the speed at which information is presented.

“I like to tell participants it’s no different from when the television was first introduced … or the telephone,” said Boxler.

Linda Tricarichi is a former ECO class participant of Boxler’s who now teaches ECO classes herself.

“I had to use a computer when I was working, but I only knew it enough to fulfill my job requirement,” said Tricarichi. “It didn’t become fun for me until last year. Now, I carry my laptop with me everywhere. I can’t imagine not using it or the Internet every day.”

Tricarichi says many of the seniors in her ECO classes are grandparents or are in employment and volunteer positions in which they work with a younger generation. Her participants say they want to catch up and relate to younger people by learning about technology. ECO participant George Fischer is one such example.

“I was an electrician all my life and never had to use a computer,” said Fischer. “My boy is down in Virginia, so I want to be able to e-mail and talk to him online.”

Fischer has a computer and Internet service at home, but he and his wife only used it to play pinochle and other games.

“The (ECO) training was very good,” said Fischer. “I’m planning to take additional training now, too. There’s so much to do on the computer and Internet that I don’t know about yet.”

If you know of an adult looking for basic computer and Internet training, find the nearest ECO class location by calling <a href="tel:18006694226800-NOW-I-CAN (669.4226).

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