WCBS TV: Professor Jean Coppola and Students Teach Seniors Technology

Jean Coppola and her students teach seniors technology in adult care facilities. The seniors learn the Internet, e-mail, even Skype so they can communicate with far-away loved ones. (Left: The Hallmark senior living facility, Battery Park City).

From a WCBS TV NEW YORK (CBS 2) segment aired during the 11pm news hour on April 15, 2011.

A group of New York students are making themselves old for college credit.

The Pace University group is simulating the aches and pains of senior citizens in an attempt to help bridge the digital divide by heading to a local senior facility to show them the basics of today’s technology.

The students attempt to see the world through aging eyes in a class that has them going through just a few of the physical challenges that most seniors face every day.

Over the course of seven weeks, many students will head to the Hallmark Assisted Living Facility and give residents some tech pointers on how to use everything from iPads to computers and cell phones.

The students stick with the basics by helping the seniors use a mouse. They show them techniques to use on touch screens, instruct them on how to check email and help them get past the fear of what is unknown to them.

But before they head out to start teaching, the students use a number of props to simulate conditions that many seniors deal with. Those techniques include using earplugs or cotton to recognize the difficulty of not being able to hear clearly.

Some even strap on leg weights to slow them down and wear bulky gloves to perform everyday tasks. Others have used popcorn kernels in their shoes to simulate the pain of aching feet.

During the senior simulation, student complaints ranged from “the more I stand, the more it hurts” to “I can barely hear anything.”

Dr. Jean Coppola, a Pace University professor, said the program is designed to make sure students know what types of limitations seniors have ahead of their teaching sessions with them.

“The bottom line is they are thoroughly prepared before they set foot in that nursing home, before they teach that older adult,” Coppola said. “It opens a new world. It doesn’t leave them behind. It let’s them know what’s going on out in the community, out in the country, out in the world.”

The end goal is for students to be hands off, so the seniors can be hands on.

Article on WCBS web site.

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