Tech Boomers – December 2016

Photo Linda and Steve Black

Linda Black and Steve Black. photo courtesy of Steve Black.

Having grown up comfortable with technology, Steve Black found himself being the authority for older relatives who wanted to learn about Facebook, Skype and Netflix. As ease-of-use became a focus of the industry, they wanted to know about all sorts of things: how to connect with friends, how to find an apartment to rent while on vacation, how to download library books to a reading device, and much more.

While Steve taught his older relatives one-on-one, they often couldn’t duplicate what he had taught them a few weeks later. Either the notes they took while learning were missing important steps or the website changed its interface. Busy with his own company, Steve didn’t have time to answer their questions so he looked for websites with tutorials for older adults to learn how to use the internet. Most content was out-of-date, glossed over important steps and confused his relatives. He wanted a set of tutorials that progressed from basic skills to more advanced features. When he couldn’t find such a website, he decided to create Techboomers.com.

Techboomers.com provides video and written tutorials to teach people with limited computer skills how to use popular websites. Users can browse categories to find new websites to try. They can receive email about new tutorials or look at the recently added courses page. I found out about Hoopla (a digital media lending service powered by local libraries worldwide) from an email and have listened to a number of audio books on my cell phone. I appreciate that it uses my existing library card and is very easy to use.

The Techboomers team consists of many people who like to play video and board games in their free time. One team member builds and maintains partnerships, another is a brand ambassador and digital literacy strategist. They  have someone who produces videos and someone who writes the content of the tutorials. The team includes Steve’s mother,  Linda Black, as tester extraordinaire and inspiration behind Techboomers. She provides feedback and perspective on courses. Users should be able to use the material even if they don’t understand digital technology well.

Their tutorials cover a variety of areas as seen in this picture. techboomers-menuSocial networks helps users connect with others through Facebook, LinkedIn, Reddit and others. Entertainment shows how to find things to watch through a wide variety of services such as Hulu, Netflix, Amazon and Youtube.

There is even a tutorial on learning to use Techboomers. The name comes from bringing technology and baby boomers together, increasing seniors confidence while using the internet. This can improve quality of life and expand social connections, important at any age. Full discloser, I’m in the baby-boomer demographic. I’ve been comfortable with technology for decades, but I find it difficult to keep up with everything that’s available on the internet. I find Techboomers useful especially when friends ask for help on something, I now point them to a Techboomers tutorial.

The following poem is my attempt to summarize the creation and evolution of TechBoomers.

Tech Boomers

Son, can you help me
with the computer?
Wait, please
go over that again.
Once more
twice more,
one more time.

While happy to help,
someone must
have solved this before.
Search the web
out-of-date, 404 error, page not found.
Unbelievable.

Another question,
same issue as last week.
Time to do this right.
Make a website
designed for boomers
to learn.
Techboomers.com is born.

Mom, can you help me
with testing the website?
To ensure the material
is useful to those who
don’t understand.
Once more
twice more,
one more time.

Katherine Lato

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