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Sunday, November 21, 2010

4 Tips for Teaching Older Adults Basic Internet Skills by Alvina Lopez

Today I have Alvina Lopez guest blogging. Please be sure to check out her unique guest post. Guest posts are always welcome, please contact me.

As someone who grew up during the 1990s, using the Internet is second-nature to me. While I can still remember the good 'ol days of the dial-up connection and the very basic Internet browser, receiving AOL diskettes in the mail, and other such Net throwbacks, I've since become completely immersed in today's hyper-connected Web 2.0. And it's precisely because I grew up with the Internet that learning new technologies is so easy for me. My parents, however, belong to a different generation, and they only recently expressed a desire to learn the ins and outs of the Internet. Teaching them basic Internet skills inspired me to volunteer for a local literacy organization teaching the Internet to recent immigrants. Here are a few things I've learned along the way that may be helpful for Internet-savvy Gen X- and Y-ers who are charged with the task of teaching older folks how to navigate the Web.

1. Start with the very basics.
"Basic" for those who are just learning the Internet may not be "basic" for you. I always start by demonstrating how to open and close a web browser, enter a URL address, and how to Google search for something. Start by doing the action yourself, then have them do it a few times until they get the hang of it.

2. Teach them what they want to know.
There are several online tools that you may use on a regular basis that you think you couldn't live without, like Facebook, for example. That doesn't mean, however, that an older adult will have any interest in using such tools. After you teach them the basics, give a brief overview of things you can use the Internet for, then ask them what, precisely, they want to learn. I've found that most older adults are interested in no-frills, highly functional things like email, shopping websites ala eBay, Google maps, news and weather sites, etc.

3. After a lesson, make sure to practice with them outside the session.
The adults I've taught often have a difficult time using what they've learned. I suspect that this is because they've gotten by their entire lives without really having to use the Internet, such that they don't really see the point. What I do after I've taught a lesson is interact with them using the tools I showed them. For example, with my parents, I send them emails at least once a week, and I call them exclusively on Skype. When I'm staying with my parents during holidays, I ask my dad to look up directions to a restaurant before we go out. Giving adults ample opportunity to use the Internet will get them to start using it on their own.

4. Be patient!
When I first taught my parents how to use the Internet, I can't count the number of times I got panicked phone calls from them telling me that something went wrong while surfing. Usually, the problem was so simple that I couldn't even understand what the problem was to begin with. This can be a very trying process, but as long as you're patient and understanding, they'll get better and better at it in no time at all.

Before teaching adults Internet literacy, I had no idea what a rewarding process it would be. It's a great feeling to be able to say that you've given back something to the adults who have given you so much. If your parents or other older adults in your life haven't yet jumped on the Internet bandwagon, encourage them to give it a try. You'd be surprised by what a wonderful bonding experience it can be.

Related links
Take a closer look at  Accredited Online Colleges' blog

About Accredited Online Colleges
Online colleges around the nation want to obtain an accredited status for many important reasons. A college’s academic reputation has a great deal to do with its accreditation status. Accreditation also ensures that graduates’ credits will transfer to other colleges, as well as be accepted by potential employers. All in all, accreditation signifies a school’s credibility, academic repute and the quality of instructors. Some schools are not accredited because they are too new or do not want to be accredited. However, it is in your best interest to either choose an accredited school that will be recognized or closely investigate schools that are not accredited. Find out why they haven’t reached accreditation, if they are pursuing it and if credits will transfer.
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This guest post is contributed by Alvina Lopez, who writes on the topics of accredited online schools. She welcomes your comments at her email.

Many thanks to Alvina Lopez.
Enjoy your reading!