Seniors-to-Seniors: Tech night boosts broadband literacy in Lake County

Posted in Broadband, Grants

A recent Lake County News Chronicle story featured a Blandin Community Broadband Program that partnered seniors (older folks) with seniors (from Two Harbors high school) to “help get them online, offering training and support.”

Chris Langenbrunner, Community Education Director, said, “We had heartwarming interactions and personalized learning occurring in our media center all night. It was so cool to see the different generations engaged, talking, laughing, asking questions and enjoying each other.”

Due to the success of last year’s class, they are holding another Student-to-Senior Multi-Age Tech class tomorrow. Take a look at highlights from last year’s class in the story and video below!

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Charles is a busy man.  In the last couple of years, he traveled to Europe, went on an expedition to Antarctica, and canoed in Canada. His photos are breathtaking. He wants to share them with those who would appreciate them. His friends and family are on Facebook, but he’s not quite sure how to get the photos from his camera to his computer to the Internet.

Charles is not alone. In fact, a September 2013 report from the Pew Internet & American Life Project showed about 15 percent of Americans older than 18 don’t use the Internet. Why? A variety of reasons, but 32 percent of non-users say that the Internet is just not that easy to use. Of the non-Internet users, 44 percent are 65 or older.

In Two Harbors, Minnesota, the high school seniors are tackling this statistic head-on. How? They’re simply connecting with the other senior population.

Last month, 19 seniors from Two Harbors High School signed on to participate in a student/senior technology night. Using their knowledge of the Internet, tech tools and applications, each high school student paired up with a senior member of the community. Together they hopped on the information highway, determined to find the ways in which technology could improve, or make easier, the lives of the senior participants.

This event was one project supported through the Blandin Broadband Communities program. As one of nine Blandin Broadband Communities, Lake County is advancing high-speed Internet access and use in their community through three different initiatives:

  • Broadband Community Education: funds for hands-on community training in Internet tools such as Skype, Google search, conferencing tools, Twitter, etc.
  • Mobile Device Initiative: support of Lake Superior School District outreach and training opportunities using mobile devices and broadband technology.
  • Digital Literacy Project: for the production of online videos for community partners regarding how broadband technology can be used to positively impact communities and improve the lives of residents.

“The new fiber optics coming to Two Harbors will enable us to access information faster, said Drew Christenson, senior at Two Harbors High School. “These tech classes will help the aging population communicate with family members.”

The Age-to-Age Technology Training Night event was so successful that the high school is planning to hold another session in February.

“We had an entire night of heartwarming interactions and personalized learning occurring in our media center,” said Kris Lee, Media and Technology Coordinator for ISD #381. “It was so cool to see everyone engaged, talking, laughing, asking questions, and enjoying each other. It was everything I hoped for and more.”

Highlights from the night are in the video below: