Teens help seniors bridge the technological gap

By Darren Lum

Published Nov. 6 2018

Last week high school students were not only allowed to use their cellphones in class but they also got to share their technological knowledge.

During a pair of classes 13 seniors were taught by 17 Haliburton Highlands Secondary School Grade 10 computer studies students to use their mobile phones tablets and laptops.

The teens taught them the basics such as turning on the devices emailing and finding image and video files. Learning often comes with experimentation which doesn’t come naturally without confidence some of the seniors said. However after the sessions they felt more comfortable and said they’re ready to explore their devices now.

Phil Dulong the students’ teacher said he thought it would be a good idea after attempting to teach his 87-year-old mother Jane about using her phone. He thought of how adept his students are with their cellphones and what a help they could be to older adults who wanted to learn.

Dulong said the results were better than he thought as students and seniors didn’t want the initial session to end when the bell rang for the next class.

“It’s a great exchange between the younger generation and older generation. They’re both learning. They’re learning a lot of patience to talk clearer slower. It’s a great exchange” Dulong said.

During this process of teaching he said the students have become far more intimate with systems and email. He said this is the first time the school has participated in something like this.

One of his students Andy Hawthorne was requested because he was such a good teacher.

Bob Stinson co-president of the CARP Haliburton branch said there is still lots to learn but he is far more oriented with his tablet now than before his session. He said the sessions were open to CARP board members and partners. The feedback from participants will be used for future sessions.

His wife Joan Stinson said the session with the students provided her a basis from which to explore the other applications. She said she was going home to write down the information she learned such as how to use the camera and how to find image files on her tablet. She appreciated how she was given an opportunity and the time to learn by doing.

“You know your family tries to show you things but they sit there and do it all and say that’s how you do it” she said.

CARP approached the school two years ago to implement this idea after receiving the Cyber Seniors Program grant which brings together young and old people.

It didn’t work for the school then but this year’s first foray was so successful for the teens and the seniors that a repeat performance is likely said both parties.

Bob hopes these sessions will be something to build on for more CARP members and hopefully this article will help to get the word out about this learning opportunity.

“We wanted to try it small to make sure it works all right” he said.