December 12, 2020
Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty.
Anyone who keeps learning stays young.
The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young.
– Henry Ford
Lots of folks ignored the encroachment of technology into everyday life over the years. Unnecessary, unwanted, a superfluous expense – except cell phones, which became an extension of our bodies, but few of us lined up at Apple for the latest model (an exception my brother-in-law). I used a computer for email, word processing, loaded it with pictures to someday put in albums. A useful tool, even fun to use, but not essential.
How life changes. How we changed.
My computer has become a lifeline to the world outside my home.
I used to be technologically challenged. I am now what I label a boomer techie. Not a good one, but adequate.
I am not alone.
My 95-year-old Mom had trouble with her first Zoom experience. It was way, way, way back in time – April. It took a few long minutes, but she was talked through the process and successfully logged onto Zoom. Fast forward months, and she can now organize a meeting, email the link to participants, start and host a meeting…Did I mention she will be 96 in January!
I am on the program committee of a local organization called FELS (Friends of Encore Learning of Stockton (University)). We offer continuing education programs for adults, most participants retired because courses are offered during the day.
The question our program committee pondered when in-person classes ended in March: What do we do during the summer? And in the fall?
Somehow, and I don’t remember how, Zoom zoomed into consciousness. I knew nothing about the system pre-pandemic. But suddenly we were faced with two choices: offer no classes, or virtual programs.
Would our members sign up? Did they know what Zoom was? Probably 95% had never used Zoom, never heard of it, didn’t know anything about it.
We decided to offer a limited number of summer courses, unsure folks would sign up. Some people told us they wouldn’t take any virtual programs – they didn’t like using the computer, only wanted in-person classes, weren’t technically competent, didn’t want to bother learning how to use the technology.
But many folks were willing to try.
And it worked. We offered a help line, and in the beginning a number of people needed to be walked through the process. But they learned…and months later, although most folks would prefer in-person contact, Zoom remains a safe, comfortable option.
And beyond winter? We hope to offer in-person classes summer 2021, but…in the future we may offer both in-person and virtual programs. There are people who enjoy connecting in the comfort of their own home, disabled individuals who find it difficult maneuvering beyond their home, folks living out of town who want to take a class.
Technically-challenged me now schedules programs, emails the link, starts and ends programs, knows how to use effective tools like a split screen. Frustrations and problems occasionally occur, but I manage…
The learning process continues until the day you die. – Kirk Douglas