After taking our new Zoom training program, Mary Fleming said she’s doing more on the video conference platform. That’s opened up her opportunities for connection, entertainment, and fun education while staying safe at home.
“The class allowed me to learn more about Zoom. “I am able to log in easier and I recently logged into two CLC Zoom art classes, which I enjoyed,” she said.
Community Living Campaign (CLC) co-sponsored the pilot program with the Network For Elders in the Bayview, which was part of the city’s plan to bridge the digital divide — the lack of internet access, devices and digital literacy access among lower-income residents and communities of color.
Many of the participants weren’t regular computer users before the class and were motivated to learn how to video conference since COVID hit.
As the pandemic dragged on, they saw more uses for the technology to stay connected with others even while sheltering at home.
Beverly Taylor, Coordinator of the Network for Elders saw the need growing.
CLC partnered with them to devise a basic Zoom training class to get more beginners up to speed. We also provided a class for people who had used Zoom before and were excited to learn some of the more advanced features.
Staying Connected Digitally
“We know it’s more crucial than ever to learn technology like this so community members can stay connected,” Beverly said. “These skills mean they can see not just our activities, but also keep in touch with their neighbors, family, friends and church communities.” (Read more about Beverly here.)
Partners including Christy Folau at the Bayview Senior Center helped with initial outreach to the Network seniors. She made sure seniors in the area knew about this opportunity and helped people register.
Chester Williams, who works with both CLC and the Network for Elders, led the six-week Zoom Training program. He’s devoted many years to bringing the technology to minority communities. (You can read about Chester here.)
For some participants, this was their introduction to the basics of Zoom. Others had used the video conferencing already and were more interested in slightly more advanced or fun features, like the chat window and virtual backgrounds.
“I learned how to use the chat function,” said Gloria Edwards. “It was fun to use one of the reactions symbols in one of my virtual church meetings. I want to learn about hosting my own Zoom meetings in the future.”
Of the 26 people who started the program, 19 completed it.
We’re reviewing feedback from the program and hope to offer it again in 2021. We’re getting a better understanding of seniors’ skill level and knowledge about technology.
The pilot also helped our organization identify some of the problems of basic access, said Sherri Hayes Sawyer, CLC’s Vision and Hearing accessibility manager, who served as Project Manager. For example, who doesn’t have internet access at home or not a high-enough quality for video.
Even more, we learned who only has a cell phone and needs a computer. We’re working on addressing that, too. Some people even needed an email address or didn’t know the basics of using email.
“We’re taking time to figure out what worked in the pilot,” Sherri said. “We want to more clearly target the needs of seniors and reach more who need this kind of training. Stay tuned!”
CLC offers many virtual tech training courses and a Tech Help Desk every week, which you can access by phone. You can find your options here as part of our extensive activity calendar.