Tu­tor­ing tech­nol­ogy

Outreach pro­gram build­ing con­nec­tions be­tween young peo­ple and se­niors


Brent Bishop is sit­ting next to Mary Tiller in the com­puter re­source cen­tre at As­cen­sion Col­le­giate in Bay Roberts. It’s a small room buzzing with com­put­ers, lo­cated just off the school’s sec­ond floor li­brary.

From a dis­tance, it looks like Bishop, a Level II stu­dent at As­cen­sion, is teach­ing Tiller the ba­sics — how to use a mouse or how to open In­ter­net Ex­plorer. How­ever, that is hardly the case. Dur­ing this par­tic­u­lar ses­sion of “Mak­ing the Con­nec­tion,” Tiller is tak­ing on the task of learn­ing Google Earth, and Bishop is help­ing her.

Bishop does not say much. He merely guides Tiller through the ac­tions.

“It feels good to help,” said Bishop. “It’s nice.”

Tiller is look­ing at the roads and high­ways that make up the Bay Roberts and Spa­niard’s Bay area.

She iden­ti­fies roads and land­marks.

“Th i s i s h eadi n g t o w a rds Spa­niard’s Bay,” said Tiller, mo­tion­ing to Bishop with her hand — all Bishop of­fers is a nod of ap­proval.

Con­nec­tion es­tab­lished

Marie Ryan is the re­gional co-ordi- na­tor for the Bac­calieu Trail Se­niors Outreach Ser­vices.

Ryan formed the pro­gram as a way to form gen­er­a­tional bonds be­tween se­niors and, in this case, high school stu­dents.

“The pro­gram is cen­tered around what­ever they need to learn,” she said.

Some of the se­niors had never even used a com­puter be­fore tak­ing part in the pro­gram.

Ryan said some have lap­tops that sit in their homes, un­opened and unused.

Each se­nior is dif­fer­ent. Some want to learn how to oper­ate an email, while oth­ers want to pay for their car reg­is­tra­tion online or learn how to use their dig­i­tal cam­eras.

“It is what­ever the se­nior wants to learn,” said Ryan. “The stu­dents know about all of these things and can show them.”

The pro­gram dif­fers from pro­grams you might find at a com­mu­nity col­lege, where the cur­ricu­lum is more for­mal­ized.

“For this one, it is what­ever they need help with,” said Ryan.

Not only is the pro­gram help­ing the older gen­er­a­tion to be­come tech­no­log­i­cally ef­fi­cient, it is form­ing a bond that crosses gen­er­a­tions.

“It cre­ates friend­ships among gen­er­a­tions that se­niors en­joy,” said

Ryan. “It’s build­ing bridges.”

Start­ing up

Mak­ing the Con­nec­tion is a new pro­gram only started at the be­gin­ning of Novem­ber.

Orig­i­nally, the pro­gram only in­volved As­cen­sion Col­le­giate, but now has grown to in­clude Bac­calieu Col­le­giate in Old Per­li­can.

To start the pro­gram, Ryan needed vol­un­teers, but had trou­ble find­ing them out­side of schools.

“I made a pre­sen­ta­tion to the ca­reer de­vel­op­ment class at As­cen­sion and I got a cou­ple of stu­dents,” she said.

The stu­dents who vol­un­teer get hours put to­wards the 30 manda­tory vol­un­teer hours they need in or­der to grad­u­ate and move on to post-sec­ondary ed­u­ca­tion.

There are six stu­dents who vol­un­teer with Ryan — Tyler Dawe, Bishop, Hanna Kear­ley, Meghan Mercer, Vic­to­ria Smith and Peter Travers.

The re­sponse has been great for the pro­gram.

Ryan said there is a wait­ing list of se­niors who want to take part.

“Se­niors love work­ing with young peo­ple and the young peo­ple love work­ing with se­niors,” she said.

A new Face­book gen­er­a­tion

Ryan said a top pri­or­ity for se­niors is to learn how to use Face­book.

For se­niors, their chil­dren are us­ing the so­cial me­dia tool, and their grand­chil­dren are us­ing it.

“It is a way for them to con­nect with grand­chil­dren who live out of prov­ince,” she said. “Ob­vi­ously, they want to learn how to use it.”

With it, they can see pic­tures of fam­ily and pos­si­bly chat with their rel­a­tives, re- con­nect­ing in the process.

Tyler Dawe is the stu­dent leader of the Mak­ing the Con­nec­tion pro- gram.

He does not need to vol­un­teer hours, but rather en­joys work­ing with and help­ing the se­niors in the group.

Dawe finds it re­mark­able that they are pick­ing up on the tech­nol­ogy so quickly.

“They have even started us­ing some of the ter­mi­nol­ogy that we use,” he said.

Mary Tiller never had much in­ter­est in learn­ing to use Face­book, or any­thing else com­puter re­lated for that mat­ter.

“I got a lap­top last year, and I’m get­ting into it,” she said.

Tiller feels it is im­por­tant to try and learn how to use the com­puter, and all that comes with it. “I Skype a lot,” she said. Ryan said a lot of se­niors do not have a long dis­tance pack­age, and learn­ing Skype al­lows them to talk with some­one out of prov­ince for free. Tiller is us­ing Face­book. “I look at the pic­tures, and I’ve added a few friends,” she said.

Up to last week, Tiller had 29 friends.

The Mak­ing the Con­nec­tion pro­gram runs Mon­day and Wed­nes­day at As­cen­sion Col­le­giate. Mem­bers of the pro­gram are : Front (l-r) — Clarice Adams and Tyler Dawe; Back — Marie Ryan, Peter Travers, Meghan Mercer, Hanna Kear­ley, Brent Bishop, Mary Trow­bridge, Vera Martin, Hazel Bad­cock, Nathan Crane, Sally Ped­dle, Roy Martin, Jeanette Lay­den and Max Adams.

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