New program aims to help older adults with technology

Program is called Older Adults Technology Services, or OATS

SAN ANTONIO – Smartphones, tablets, laptops and Google are technology we use every day. But we might not realize how important they are. 

For older people, technology can seem complicated and, in some cases, scary and overwhelming. But now there's a new program helping teach older adults about technology.

"I have my laptop. I did not know how to use it, so I was just messing with it. But, like I say every time I come to classes: You learn new things," Tina Jaramilo said. 

Jaramilo is one of the hundreds of students taking part in the free and public Older Adults Technology Services, or OATS.

"We started in October 2018 and it was at four sites for city of San Antonio senior centers. And then, from there, we graduated 58 individuals. But now we have 30 locations, so we're probably going to graduate close to 300 individuals," Darryl Greer said. 

These classes range from five to 10 weeks and train students on the most basic features of a computer. They also touch on e-mail, internet searches and social media. 

"Our students -- they come in with the curiosity of Twitter, Instagram, Facebook. Then, what we do is we acknowledge that curiosity, and we help drive them and show them, first, how to use it but how it impacts our communities and how it's impacted the American landscape," Greer said. 

Students also learn the conveniences that come with up-to-date technology. 

"Content is really relevant to an older adult, whether they're looking up pharmacies, transportation or online banking." Greer said. He also said he wants to make sure the actual classroom experience goes beyond the pages in a book and beyond the boundaries of a technology class. 

A big aspect of the course is socializing via the keyboard. 

"They're using the technology. They're emailing each other," Jeannette Carnevale said. "They're really becoming intimate friends with each other by just sharing the class and the information they're learning here in class. They even look up recipes. They made a pie." 

Jaramilo says she's seeing a big change. "Every two weeks, I would go on and I had to wait, and they had to update my computer. Now, I used it, like, every day, and do whatever I want." she said.

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