SAN ANTONIO — Long before the days of social distancing, members of the national nonprofit Older Adults Technology Services were already taking steps to fight against social isolation by participating in the organization's digital platform, Senior Planet.
The free, technology-based program, funded by a Humana grant, helps elderly members learn new skills in the digital world.
"At age 80, I'm very interested to learn more so we can stay with the young folks," said Trudy Walker, a member.
Since joining, Walker says she has learned to use Microsoft Office programs on multiple electronic devices.
"When [the instructor] taught us iPad, I was excited to learn there was so much more I can use," Walker said.
Her newfound love for technology is shared with others taking advantage of the virtual classroom aimed at helping seniors learn basic computer skills.
"They can also use it to fight isolation so that they can stay connected to their families," said Johnathan Ushindi Zaluke, a Senior Planet trainer.
First, members learn how to use email. Other course offerings include iPad Basics, iPad Essentials, Connecting to the Digital Age, Beyond the Basics, Digital Storytelling and Introduction to Digital Culture. In the last week, the program also included Explore Tech lectures.
"Seniors are always ready to learn; they love the lessons," said Ushindi Zaluke.
One lesson seniors are learning during the lectures is how to spot inaccurate news articles online and helpful links to a fact checker. It’s a topic Walker says is important to understand, especially when reading articles tied to the coronavirus.
"I'm very interested in knowing the truth before I share with somebody," Walker said. "We got to keep learning to keep growing," she said.