Leaning over laptops, tablets and Smartphones, terms like tweeting, hashtags and likes are defined and explained.
The lessons are geared toward a group of senior citizens who want to learn the new technology so prominent in society. But at the same time, a group of IUPUI students are learning about how to work in their future career field.
The IT class, taught by Professor Sally Catlin, offers a weekly program for senior citizens at Heritage Place on how to use different types of technology. The class is easily one of the most popular at the center, where officials have asked if more sessions can be offered.
“I honestly would not ever want this program to go away. It is essential. It is a staple to our program here,” Heritage Place Program Manager Gretchen Meitzler said.
Topics covered recently include Twitter, Facebook, new features on Apple watches geared toward senior citizens and Facebook Messenger.
Residents who attend range in age from 55 to 95, and often are very educated people who just want to learn more about technology they never grew up with, Catlin said.
“Seniors want to have some of these skills, and be able to be involved in conversations about modern technology,” Catlin said.
The class started three years ago, and is consistently full. Catlin is looking at offering other classes and programs that could benefit residents, too, she said.
Teaching the class also allows Catlin’s students to learn more about their field and working with the public.
“The IUPUI students get a lot out of it too, it’s intergenerational. These seniors went to school when schools were segregated,” Catlin said.
Students work one-on-one with senior citizens, reminding them how to log in or troubleshooting any problems they are facing. They also teach segments to the whole group, focusing on specific programs or apps, such as Uber, Twitter or grocery delivery sites.
They also learn more about the residents’ lives, like when they are asked to help them share photos of their family on social media sites.
The students have to remember to be patient, since most people don’t have the technological knowledge and skills they do, and they have to pay attention to the terms they are using, avoiding the IT language they get used to using with their classmates, students said.
The experience is something they can’t get in their classes, IUPUI senior Dalton Puckett said.
“It’s good to talk to people who are different from you. They don’t have as much experience, and it helps me understand more,” Puckett said.