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Tackling technology

Taking a ‘byte’ out of computer confusion

Created date

April 11th, 2016
Tallgrass Creek neighbors (from left) Bill Converse, Larry Hanna, and Peggy Izzard

Tallgrass Creek neighbors (from left) Bill Converse, Larry Hanna, and Peggy Izzard

An informative club at Tallgrass Creek is one way community members learn about an issue many adults find perplexing: technology. The community’s computer club, coordinated by residents Peggy Izzard and Bill Converse, started last year and was immediately well received. 

“So many people own a computer of some sort, and they’re hesitant to use it,” says Peggy, a former schoolteacher. “Since some know more than others, we thought a computer club would encourage us to get together and help each other.” 

The meetings take place the third Tuesday afternoon of each month and draw a full classroom of neighbors seeking knowledge about their smartphones, iPads, laptops, tablets, and desktop computers. 

Lending an instructive hand is Cheryl Perzee, a friend of Peggy’s who volunteers her time to attend meetings and share her considerable technological expertise. Cheryl is a retired corporate trainer who worked with companies such as AT&T and has also worked with small businesses designing websites and newsletters. 

“I’ve found that adults are eager to learn and a joy to teach,” says Perzee. “I certainly find that here at Tallgrass Creek.”   

Technology made simpler

Perzee’s students are at all levels of technological ability. Some are learning the basics of browsers, operating systems, and email servers, while others are learning to customize email by attaching pictures and changing fonts. 

Several computer-savvy residents in the group utilize word processing software and presentation programs such as PowerPoint. 

“I try to meet each person where they are, knowledge-wise, and help them step it up a little,” says Perzee. “These are busy people, and it’s gratifying to see how eager they are to learn.” 

Future plans include splitting the group according to their individual devices.

“Putting people together who all have the same machine will be helpful,” says Bill, a retired nuclear engineer. “At that point, we’ll focus on more specific training.”

Computer club member Larry Hanna is one of several Tallgrass Creek residents who wrote his memoirs using a desktop computer. Larry’s 200-page autobiography consists of 150 personal short stories, which he sent to an online publisher earlier this year. He will soon have the published document in book form.

“Cheryl was a lifesaver,” says Larry, who has lived at Tallgrass Creek since the day it opened in 2008. “She helped me include photos and added so much to the entire project.” 

Cyber seniors

Additional computer instruction for Tallgrass Creek residents comes from a group of students from nearby Blue Valley North High School in Leawood, Kans. The group participates in the school district’s Center for Advanced Professional Studies (CAPS), an innovative program that enables students to solve real-world problems in the community. 

During the school year, the students conducted weekly computer classes at Tallgrass Creek and also worked one-on-one with residents to familiarize them with email, Wi-Fi, social media, and other tasks such as online banking and even ancestry.com. The older students find it fun and informative to learn from the younger ones and vice versa.

“It’s great to watch someone learn something they didn’t know,” says Blue Valley North Junior Lauren Schaffer, who spearheaded the program at Tallgrass Creek. “Everyone is so appreciative, and we always have fun with the residents.”

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