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Maris Grove blazing new trails in technology

Computer club, TV studio partner for informative presentations

Created date

June 25th, 2013

When it comes to computer education, Maris Grove is a trailblazer. At Erickson Living s community in Delaware County, Pa., the campus computer club, TV studio, and Maris Grove Internet Technology Site Manager Mike Hill are collaborating to produce computer-related education videos. Hill believes Maris Grove leads Erickson Living communities in this area of interest. In 2011, as Hill and some club members discussed giving a hands-on Skype demonstration at an upcoming meeting, resident Mary Ann Starkey volunteered to videotape it for Maris Grove s in-house TV studio so the entire community could see it on their dedicated Maris Grove TV Channel 11. Skype is so easy, she says. Since her brother in Virginia installed the video communication software on his computer, they ve been talking face-to-face from miles away. Mary Ann s suggestion received immediate approval from the club and from Channel 11, and the resulting video earned rave reviews from residents.

Computer learning made easy

Mary Ann produces the computer club videos. She films the presentations, edits the tapes, then integrates opening and closing interviews with Hill to create 30-minute segments that air on the station s daily Through the Lens program. She had no TV experience until she started volunteering at Channel 11 and credits much of her skill to training from station staff member Rose Azrael. The videos are so popular that the station made DVDs of them for residents to borrow or purchase. Presenters have included Jack Collette, who chairs the club and is its Apple expert, and club member Bob Miller, who s a digital photography expert. Maureen Heckler, Maris Grove s executive director, also took the stage to demonstrate the iPad. Hill presents more often. When it s his turn, he thoroughly researches his topic, always prepares handouts, and creates presentations to display on a big screen. I try to present in layman s terms to keep things understandable, Hill says. He wants newbies and techies alike to learn something new.

Exploring new topics

For a modest fee, Maris Grove s IT department makes house calls when residents encounter computer problems. Those incidents have provided fodder for presentations such as Wi-Fi, how routers function, what to do when your system crashes, and the perennial topic of avoiding Internet scams and computer viruses. Topics also arise from questions posed at meetings and suggestions received on annual member surveys. The goal of the club is to meet the needs of the residents, says Jack Collette. Most use their computers for email, photos, and searching the Internet, so we tend to focus on the basics. But they also explore new technology of interest to residents. This spring, Hill s PowerPoint demonstration of the WOW Computer packed the meeting room. And two residents who own and are enthusiastic about the super-simple computers designed for older adults, relayed their firsthand experiences. Jack is currently exploring how to link Channel 11 s DVDs to its resident website. Then people could watch the DVDs on their computers without having to borrow them, he says. Because the link could apply to things beyond the computer club, it would open an additional channel of communication at Maris Grove. And maybe blaze another new trail.