OATS offers a ten-week basic computer course for older adults, designed to teach absolute beginners how to use the mouse and keyboard, Windows, the Internet, and email. The course proceeds at a moderate pace and focuses on content and skills of particular interest to senior citizens. All participants receive a copy of “Computer Basics for Older Adults” for use during and after the course. An advanced course was piloted at two locations in 2006.
The OATS Technology Training and Leadership Institute trains high school students to teach computers to older adults. OATS staff recruit and train youth in classroom skills, communication techniques, and how to work with older adults. Youth then co-teach the ten-week basic computer training with OATS trainers. Youth participants receive community service and high school credit, while seniors get ten weeks of free training. This program is operating at three sites in Manhattan, Brooklyn and the Bronx.
Medicare Peer Counseling
With support from the Councilmember Annabel Palma, Statewide Senior Action Council and JPAC for Older Adults, OATS delivered a 10-week computer training course on Medicare and the Internet in late 2005. Selected participants then received additional training before volunteering at Medicare Peer Counseling clinics to help seniors research Medicare prescription drug coverage options. OATS operated 28 clinics at six locations in Manhattan and the Bronx, saving low-income seniors more than $19,000 on their drug costs.
Expos and Seminars
OATS conducts workshops, seminars and special events to help older adults explore technology and learn to appreciate its potential for improving their quality of life. “Technology Touch Tanks” offer seniors the chance to handle a variety of technology devices in a friendly, supportive environment. At these events, participants move between different technology stations, trying out digital cameras, laptops, iPods, and DVD players. OATS staff and volunteers are on hand to demonstrate equipment, answer questions, and give people a chance to try out the unfamiliar devices.
OATS seminars, conducted at a variety of senior centers and community locations across the city, provide seniors with information on specific technology topics, including:
- Staying safe when using the Internet
- What is email?
- Accessing health resources online
- Shopping on the Internet
- Making friends online
These one-day sessions utilize PowerPoint presentations with extensive participation from the audience, and seniors are provided with tip sheets and resource guides on key topics.