Savvy Seniors Click with Technology at VBPL

​Keeping Seniors Connected

In the computer lab at Virginia Beach’s Central Library, you’ll often find customers working on documents, fine-tuning resumes, searching the web or using the many other technology resources available. On two recent Thursday mornings though, the lab was filled with a dozen seniors eager to learn basic skills necessary to use a computer. 

The idea was born when Valerie Williamston stopped by a genealogy class at Virginia Beach Public Library (VBPL) and asked a few questions about library programming. Williamston is the founder of Savvy Seniors Connections, whose goal is to provide meaningful, educational and enriching activities for the 55-plus age group in our community. Events include dining experiences, game days, concerts, health and wellness fairs, volunteering and more.  Valerie reached out to VBPL with the idea of creating a program to introduce computers to her active seniors. Working with VBPL’s Technology Training Coordinator, Nicole M., they designed a one-of-a-kind, two-part class that would teach basic skills and help build confidence in working with computers. The class would be led by Jeanne H., an adult program specialist at Central Library.

“This class is a great opportunity for our seniors to get hands-on training,” Williamston said. “So much is online now - it’s important for them to have ways to stay connected to their family and friends. We want to reduce the feelings of isolation and loneliness for the aging population.”

Mousing Around on Day One

On the first Thursday morning, the seniors, including 90-year-old “Ms. Christine,” took a seat behind a computer station and keyboard. Ms. Christine was provided with a special keyboard the library offers, one with larger keys that are easier to see and use (see photo below). The class began with instruction from Jeanne on the basic components and uses of the computer, good information to know when requesting help to troubleshoot a problem. She asked the group if they had family or grandchildren living far away, and many nodded “yes.” Jeanne shared how she exchanged photos and sent videos of herself reading stories to her 10 grandchildren using basic computer skills.

The class continued, with hands-on instruction on using the Start Menu, how to use the mouse and master the ‘double-click,’ a movement that doesn’t come naturally and takes practice. One exercise was titled “Mousing Around” and focused on dragging and moving items, closing pop-up boxes, and clicking links. Valerie and Jeanne weaved in and out of the aisles, checking on their progress, lending a hand when needed and assuring them there wouldn’t be a quiz at the end, and no homework – which brought laughter from the whole group.

The final exercise featured a pizza-ordering game where they had to use their mouse and keyboard, filling in blanks for pizza size, toppings, address and personal information. The final step? Click “Place Order.” The result? Not a pizza, but a personalized certificate stating they were official “Mousers” and had successfully completed their first class.

Learning Opportunities for all Ages

Jeanne especially enjoyed seeing the seniors working together and asking how they could help each other. “I was thrilled to see how eager and excited they were to have the opportunity to learn and ask so many smart questions! It made me really want to teach this sort of class more and more!”

Find free classes on everything from computer technology, arts and crafts, genealogy, gardening and more:

Special library keyboard with with larger keys.
Instructor standing at the front of a room of senior students at computers.
Senior students working at computers.
Senior students working at computers.
Woman provides assistance to senior at computer.
Senior class group photo.

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