Bridging the Digital Divide

Bridging the Digital Divide

Digital Skills for Seniors Class at the Wyoming State Museum

By Laura Baker, CyberWyoming Executive Director with the help of ChatGPT

In an era where technology is an integral part of daily life, the Wyoming State Museum has stepped up to ensure that senior citizens are not left behind. Over an enriching eight-week class that ended in May, seniors were introduced to the basics of using an iPhone, starting from ground zero. This comprehensive program is a testament to the museum’s commitment to community engagement and education.

The class began with the very fundamentals, teaching seniors about the gestures and buttons on an iPhone. For many participants, their journey with technology started here, and the class patiently guided them through the initial steps of identifying icons and navigating their devices. As the weeks progressed, participants moved on to more advanced features, such as exploring podcasts and enjoying music, opening up a world of possibilities and new experiences.

Starting with the Basics

One of the crucial aspects of this training was the recognition that many seniors’ level of knowledge was at zero. Trainers and IT professionals often have a deep-seated understanding of technology—sometimes referred to as the “curse of knowledge.” This curse can make it challenging to remember what it’s like to be a complete novice. Therefore, the instructors at the Wyoming State Museum made a concerted effort to use common language, avoiding technical jargon that could confuse or overwhelm participants.

Practice

Time for practice was another essential component of the class. Seniors were given ample opportunity to experiment with their iPhones, ask questions, and receive hands-on assistance. This approach ensured that each participant could learn at their own pace, fostering confidence and competence.

Large Print Notebooks

To further support the learning process, large print notebooks were provided. These notebooks served as valuable resources that seniors could refer back to, reinforcing their learning and providing a sense of independence as they navigated their new digital skills.

Success

The success of the Digital Skills for Seniors class is evident not only in the progress made by the participants but also in the high demand for the program. There is currently a waiting list for this class, underscoring the need and desire among seniors to become more technologically savvy. For those who prefer Android devices, the Wyoming State Museum also offers a similar class in the fall, ensuring that no one is left out regardless of their device preference.

Selfie with Diane and Laura at the Digital Skills for Seniors Class graduation day May 21, 2024.

The Digital Skills for Seniors class at the Wyoming State Museum is a shining example of how tailored, patient, and accessible training can empower seniors to confidently engage with technology. By recognizing and addressing the unique challenges faced by this demographic, the museum has created a welcoming environment where seniors can learn, grow, and stay connected in our increasingly digital world.

At CyberWyoming Alliance, our focus is to write grants to bring this innovative, community minded program to other areas of the State.  We hope you will join us in this endeavor by supporting us for WyoGives on July 10 to fundraise for senior, student, and educator resources like this. 

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