Mike Kilen story
Pictures of Ralph Freso
GCU News Desk
A senior said he was pretty good on his laptop, but “as for the phone…”
I’m in my 50s, but even I smiled when I heard the word “telephone”. It made me want to call my 80+ mom only to hear her say, “Well, that’s your nickel”, thinking we’re on “long distance” while I’m holding my smartphone/mobile/ cellular/everything except telephone.
the GCU Golden Lopes class at Grand Canyon University was like this – a wonderful journey across five generations, face to face, about our wearables, whatever you call them. Honors College students in their twenties took 87-year-olds on a journey with their devices and answered random questions, such as “What is TikTok?”
Tech Savvy Seniors is one of five new courses in the Golden Lopes program, launched last October and offered for the second time on campus this spring to citizens 55 and older. And 47 seniors signed up for four-session classes just to learn new things, which also include classes on the brain, the Bible, personal finance and books.
Homer drewwho inspired the idea of the free classes, warmly welcomed the “tech” group, standing in front of people who have achieved a lot in their lives but who know that it is never too late to learn more.
This included a participant who said she saw technology as the enemy of the people.
But hold the phone (or phone) over age stereotypes. This same senior just “got out of the gym” and is an online graduate student.
What they really had a problem with is what all age groups are doing to varying degrees – keeping up with rapidly changing technology used for necessity and pleasure. The first lesson was on cell phones, so I turned to the woman sitting next to me who was holding hers.
Nora Hodges said she ran all of the McDonald’s franchises in Arizona at one point in her life, but now she was trying to find a way to send a photo from her phone with a wireless direct link. In iPhone parlance, it’s an AirDrop. But she had an Android phone, and I was brand new to mine after a long use of the iPhone.
So, in unison, we started poking our screens as Honors College instructors circled the room helping others.
Pressing various buttons and doohickeys is actually a good thing, we learned.
“Clicking is OK”, said Gabby Marrama, an Honors College program manager helping the class. “Technology doesn’t always have to be scary.”
But the biggest fear of this group of seniors, according to their very first Kahoot! survey they did in class, got ripped off by clicking on the wrong thing.
They’ll cover this later in the course, including URLs that look suspicious.
But back to the important thing – me taking a picture of Hodges.
“With all the constant changes, I chose this class to try to upgrade myself,” she said.
She went to settings. I went to settings. It was a whole. The teacher intervened to say turn on this or that. We clicked on other things. I know it’s technical, but try to follow.
Lo and behold, I received Hodges’ wonderful photo of a sunset in Lake Pleasant.
GCU student Kendall Smith was practically dazed, bouncing around the room, helping Golden Lopes as another teacher, even though he studies film and dance. She said she hoped to be like them one day, not coming to college to get a degree to get a job or earn money, but just to keep learning new things.
She imagined that one day she would be in their shoes, thinking, “Wow, this is what college is like. I remember it was the same when I went there.
“I think going to class again takes them back to the good old days,” she added.
This is how Smith came to help Sherral Spencer.
“When I’m not sure what I’m doing. I have to ask my son and he has to stop what he’s doing and help,” she said of her decision to take the course. “My son said, ‘Please take it.'”
For years, Spencer said she battled small frustrations with technology. Phone calendar reminders would never appear for things like doctor appointments. But in less than five minutes, Smith helped solve that problem.
Another Golden Lope, Neil Saunders, uses technology to dictate letters, translate foreign languages, even operate his hearing aid. But when he received a new television for his recent 87th birthday, he couldn’t install it and had to call his son. So there is always more to learn.
The person coming to her aid in class had her own technical problems in the past. Just because English is major Lauren Geiser being young doesn’t mean she knows everything about these gadgets.
“I struggled with the tips and tricks of technology,” she said, but I had to persevere and learn them.
Now she wanted to help people like Saunders. He was a 45-year-old Salvation Army employee responsible for finances in “16 countries with 18 currencies,” and Geiser was showing him how to send a photo via AirDrop.
“I didn’t know what it was,” he said. “She helped me install it in 30 seconds.”
Now he’s free to drop a few photos to his pals at his next University of Melbourne graduate reunion from 63 years ago, when television became a consumer device.
Other lessons in the class will include exploring the app-populated world, the trendy landscape of social media, and the scary minefield of scammers.
Teachers say it’s about helping each other.
“We are all lifelong learners. We are not above anyone,” Marrama said.
The same older student who said technology is the enemy agreed that it is a necessary tool these days.
Or just a convenience, like sending a photo.
Smith laughed thinking that her grandmother always prints photos from family reunions and sends them to her student granddaughter by post. She loves it, it’s quaint and grandma, but there’s a better and cheaper way.
So she helped all of us learn and save several hours of our lives to do other things, like maybe make a dance video on TikTok.
Grand Canyon University lead writer Mike Kilen can be reached at [email protected] or at 602-639-6764.
TOS today: Golden Lopes opens more courses for the elderly
TOS today: Older students continue to learn thanks to Golden Lopes