The OASIS Institute, a national educational organization that focuses on the 50-and-over set, has received a $625,000 contribution from AT&T to expand its Connections technology training program over the next year.
With the funds, OASIS will expand its workforce skills training program for adults over the age of 50 and increase technology training for both career and personal use. As of August 2011, the U.S. Department of Labor estimates that 4.2 million people over the age of 55 were unemployed. That is the highest rate for that particular age group in six decades.
In the past 10 years, more than 46,000 people have enrolled in the Connections program. The curriculum consists of 34 courses including basic computer skills, Microsoft Office programs, online job applications, and social networking. The Connections approach to training is based on research regarding how older adults learn. Class booklets feature many snapshots of the computer screen to better enable students to follow along, for example.
“Thanks to AT&T, we will be able to reach as many as 11,000 older adults across the country and help them build their technological skills and confidence,” said Marcia Kerz, OASIS president. “Some of them may take the classes simply to learn how to stay in touch with friends and family. But more are turning to Connections to help them update their job skills.”
Beyond career and personal use, there is a greater need for computer and other technology training for older adults. As Richard Keggans, a contributor to Technorati and self-dubbed “blogging baby boomer,” explains,
From physicians using telepresence and digital medical records, to wireless monitoring of vital signs and ‘smarter’ retirement residences, technology looms large. Recently, the Mayo Clinic partnered with a large electronics chain to set up the ‘Healthy Aging and Independent Living’ lab at a retirement facility — the goal being to find and pioneer creative uses of technology to allow older users to live independently for longer.
Check out the list of cities in which OASIS conducts training to see if you’re near one of the locations. If you are not near one of the program’s 18 target cities, firstSTREET offers some solutions to make computers easier for seniors. The WOW! Computer for Seniors features a touch-screen design that can be controlled with just one finger. It also provides on-screen text in a large print that can be magnified up to 200%. Even better, it is currently on sale!
firstSTREET also offers a series of books, written in plain, easy to understand language, so that you can learn computer skills at your own pace. You can start with My Parents 1st Computer Guide, then follow up with My Parents Computer Guide, Beyond the Basics. Both books were written by Louise Latremouille for her own parents.