I personally don’t do well with lots of demonstration by others. At least not all the time.
When my refrigerator’s icemaker stopped producing ice, I turned to several YouTube video tutorials. When we decided it was time for a new pup I reviewed a number of articles about puppy training. (Chobe, our 8-month-old Chocolate Lab still chews on our shoes and slippers!) When I have a tech question I search for the answer in an article or video explanation.
Recently, I’ve been working with a number of seniors and boomers in one-on-one tutoring sessions. And there are some patterns that I see. In learning about their personal technology, three learning style issues are important to seniors, in particular. But, maybe these issues apply to all of us as we learn to use our smartphones, tablets, and computers more effectively?
Here’s what I have learned:
• Don’t offer too many options. Working with technology is not the linear process that some prefer because there are often any number of ways to complete a given task. Here is a common example—sharing a photo from a smartphone can be accomplished in several different ways.
- Select the photo desired and use the share icon from your camera roll to send a photo directly through email or text messaging;
- Attach a photo and send directly through email, or;
- Drag and drop a photo into the text of an email and send.
For many people, these are at least two extra possibilities that the novice learner does not need. I selected #2 attaching a photo since it is more straight-forward and easy to follow.
• Don’t force everything to be done on the computer, tablet, or smartphone. When working with seniors I usually encourage them to watch video tutorials as back-up for what they are learning. Yet, often when I do that I get a blank stare. A good idea but a tech novice may need to know her device better before attempting to watch a video about it.
• Paper is ok! Don’t hesitate to provide some written directions to help seniors keep track of simple and repetitive computer tasks. I’m currently working with seniors who have never touched a computer before and they are most eager to write down every instruction I give them. I now prepare short “cheat sheets” for topics like sending email, responding to texts, or editing photos.
• Use the tools that every tablet, smartphone, or computer has available. Don’t forget to increase print size, increase sound volume, move to a landscape view (hold the phone/camera horizontally, not up and down) and use other features found in the accessibility settings. Certain fonts are more easily read. Some seniors may need a larger font size but then don’t like constantly turning pages because of a too large font.
So what is your preferred learning style?
When it comes to your smartphone, tablet, or computer, how do you learn best?