Learning how to use technology can be an intimidating task. While technology use is fairly widespread, it can be difficult to keep up with constant advancements and updates. However, there are various benefits to using technology such as keeping us connected with others through video calls or messages, or adding convenience to our lives through online shopping, food delivery, and ride sharing services.

Since 2015, Keiro has been teaching our Introduction to iPad course to older adults who were interested in learning how to adapt this new piece of technology into their everyday lives. Now more than ever, learning how to use new technology will be important for us to maintain our social connections, and we anticipate that you may have to teach your loved ones new technology. As a first step,  have the following ready before starting.

  • Find Purpose
    • Define the goal that you are ultimately working on. Are you learning how to use this new piece of technology to video call a loved one, to help with transportation needs, or to watch your favorite television shows online?
  • Set-Up
    • If your device is brand new, you may have to create a new account, which requires you to input your name, email address, and create a new password.
    • Have any instruction manuals that come with your device on hand to reference as you learn.
  • Get Connected
    • A lot of technology requires the wireless internet, or WiFi, in order to access its full range of benefits. You will have to make sure your home is equipped with the proper devices to support WiFi.
teaching ipad

Once you and your loved one are set up and ready to learn, you can start the teaching process. However, being a technology teacher can be difficult and challenging, which is why we have put together our list of tips that can help you become one. We hope that these tips can help you encourage your loved one as they begin, or continue, to explore the benefits of incorporating new forms of technology into their daily lives.

  1. Be Patient
    • Learning a new skill takes time. Be prepared to repeat yourself several times.
    • Stay positive and praise the your loved one for following your directions or accomplishing a task.
  2. Encourage Making Mistakes
    • It is natural for new learners to want to be perfect; and when they do make mistakes, it is easy for them to blame themselves for not being able to learn.
    • Making mistakes is part of the learning process so remind your loved one that making mistakes is one way to help them learn the skill.
  3. Review the Basics
    • Before jumping straight into text messaging or downloading apps, start with the basics. We recommend that you review how to turn on and off the device as well as what the other buttons on the device do.
    • Getting comfortable tapping and swiping on the touchscreen is important. Consider asking your loved one to practice by typing out their favorite recipe or to write a short story.
  4. Be Hands-off
    • Let your loved one be the one who touches the device. It may be easier for you to have them follow along while you show them the steps. This, however, could impair their learning experience.
    • Provide verbal cues and let them follow along on their device.
    • If possible, have your own device to point to and demonstrate with while teaching your loved one on their device.
  5. Explain the Steps and Define Terms
    • As a technology teacher, you will probably be familiar with terms such as “swipe,” “tap,” or “apps.” However, it is important to recognize that these words or phrases may be new to your loved one.
    • In addition, be sure to explain the steps you are showing your loved one. For example,
      1. Don’t say: “Just click that button and open the camera app.”
      1. Do say: “Lets press the home button which will take us back to the home screen. Remember the home screen is where we can find all the different apps. Why don’t you press the app that looks like a camera and try taking a picture?” 
  6. Write Down Important Information
    • Encourage your loved one to take notes on the steps you show them so they can reference it later.
    • Pictures and drawings are another great way to help your loved one remember the individual steps.
    • Nowadays, devices require a variety of combinations of usernames, emails, and passwords. Consider writing them down and storing them somewhere in a safe and accessible location.
  7. Take Breaks
    • Breaks allow your loved one to process all of the information they are receiving. If necessary, repeat certain steps or tasks to reinforce what they are learning before moving on to something else.
  8. Get Creative
    • Everyone learns differently, so you may be required to change the way you communicate certain steps to your loved one. For example, analogies are a great way to communicate the functions and value of certain apps.
    • If you have to help your loved one over the phone, you will have to be creative in how you describe and explain things. Consider mailing your loved one with instructions and sketches that may help them understand what you are trying to communicate over the phone.
  9. Practice, Practice, and Practice!
    • Encourage your loved one to practice what they have learned every day. This will help reinforce the material and retain the information.
      • Motivating your loved one will encourage them to want to learn more and practice.
    • Encourage your loved one to continue exploring their device and remind them that mistakes will always be a part of the learning process.

Teaching your loved one to use technology virtually or over the phone presents some challenges. All of the above tips and tricks still apply, but it may just take more time and repetition to learn. Providing opportunities to learn new technology will enable them to participate in various virtual events with family and friends, allowing them to stay connected in this time of uncertainty.