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Technology tutorials

Intergenerational teaching and learning keeps local retirees up to speed

Created date

May 5th, 2017
Local student Peyton Lord (right) shares some tricks for using an iPad with Burt Longenbach, who lives at Linden Ponds.

Local student Peyton Lord (right) shares some tricks for using an iPad with Burt Longenbach, who lives at Linden Ponds.

People who live at Linden Ponds, the Erickson Living community in Hingham, Mass., have enlisted local schoolchildren from St. John’s Episcopal Church and Derby Academy to show them tips and tricks about using electronic devices. 

While older adults have so much to teach younger generations—lessons from history and the wisdom that comes with age, for instance, once in a while, they can learn a thing or two from kids. 

Technology is one area where youngsters often have a wealth of knowledge. Many of them have never lived without laptops, cell phones, and other electronic devices, so using technology is simply second nature to them. 

Community effort

Linden Ponds Philanthropy Manager Mairi Bleakie says she was approached a few months ago by Sue Hess from St. John’s Episcopal Church about arranging a volunteer project for the church’s youth group. 

“I suggested a student-led tutorial on the iPhone and iPad,” Bleakie says. “[Hess] loved the idea and presented it to her church. She gathered a group of students from her church; from her children’s school, Derby Academy in Hingham; and from her local community of Cohasset.”

Bleakie says Linden Ponds had previously arranged technology tutorials with some of the high school students who work at the community’s on-site restaurants. 

“It was a wonderful success,” Bleakie says. “Then the summer hit, and we dropped it when the kids went off to college.”

So when another opportunity to bring in students to help residents get tech savvy presented itself, Bleakie jumped at the chance. She says about 20 community members typically attend the sessions with the students from St. John’s and Derby Academy. 

Well received

“They are very knowledgeable and very friendly,” says resident Kay Fann, who has attended one of the tutorials.

Kay is Chinese and uses her iPad to email with non-English-speaking family members because she is able to type Chinese letters on the iPad. She also uses it to manage her investments and pay her bills online rather than via the mail. 

“I don’t want to have a lot of paper around,” she says.

Burt Longenbach has also attended the technology tutorials. He uses his iPad primarily to read novels and also to FaceTime with his daughter and son-in-law. He says one of the visiting students taught him how to unlock his iPad with his thumbprint. 

“They are so quick [on electronic devices] because they are not fearful,” Burt says. “We have a tendency to think we’re not going to do the right thing. But it turns out it doesn’t matter if you do the wrong thing; you just push another button.”