The tech world is changing so quickly that the daily tech skills you learned just ten years ago probably don’t matter today. If you were an adult in the 80s, computer skills would not be as important as they are now. This generation of 30-year-olds is now approaching retirement age, and if they deliberately don’t keep up with the times, modern technology can be pretty daunting.
From smartphones to smart TVs, everything. Often the younger generation has to help their elders to take advantage of modern technology. We have quite a long history of helping and teaching people of all ages. There are some important lessons to be learned from this experience when it comes to older users.
If you have users in your life who fall into this category, these general tips can help make learning technology much easier.
Never Give Up
Never judge someone for not knowing anything about technology. There is a long list of things that no one knows anything about, and someone who is not tech-savvy does not deserve to be talked to.
Always show patience and respect for the person you are helping. If either side is upset, take a time out and try again in a few minutes. Listen to the person to see where they are from, not just wait your turn to speak.
Take the knowledge in the account
Every user you try to help is not a blank slate! Take time to figure out what your user already knows. Older users may have outdated technical knowledge but can still use it.
So take the time to assess what level and type of knowledge someone has and adapt your instructions to it.
Be aware of physical limitations
Many older users have problems with vision, hearing, dexterity, and even the speed with which they can follow instructions. Be honest and ask to be advised of any issues like these that come to the fore.
Using accessibility features like screen magnifier or voice control can be part of your lesson. Old users may be discouraged from these problems and not aware of the many features that modern devices must compensate for.
Don’t assume the person you’re trying to help isn’t smart enough to understand what’s going on under the hood. If you explain it well enough, you can help anyone understand how something works in principle.
So don’t leave questions about the technology itself and don’t give too simple answers. If understanding the nature of a particular technology helps a person to better use a device or application, include these explanations in advance.
cold with specialized language terms
Jargon is a good tool for experienced people in their field to communicate effectively with each other, but it is also a major barrier to entry for those who are not already initiated.
In practice, this means that you should not use jargon unless absolutely necessary. Instead, explain things in plain language using terms that most people know.
Encourage a pragmatic approach
Whenever possible, you should allow the person you are trying to teach to do it himself. Resist the urge to take over, even as a demonstration. Instead, invite them to follow your instructions with their own hands.
There is an ocean of difference between the passive observation of someone doing something, and the fact that he does it himself. So give them every opportunity to get hands-on time.
Focus on Building Trust
Fear is a major factor when working with technology. In turn, fear is driven by the unknown. If you don’t understand something, it can easily seem scary.
Therefore, while direct and clear instructions are still very important, if you want older users to truly “understand” the technology you are trying to explain to them, it is important to replace fear with confidence.
You have to make it clear that you cannot “break” something just by using it. As long as someone’s important information is backed up or stored securely in the cloud, the worst thing that can happen is having to reset something.
The best way to learn a particular technology is to play freely with it. Mistakes are an important part of learning, and modern devices are pretty reliable. So try to dispel these concerns and encourage the person to explore freely.
Teach them to catch a problem-solving mindset
One of the biggest mistakes you can make when teaching technology to someone is forcing them to memorize a set of instructions for a specific task. Why? Because as soon as something goes wrong, the user needs to find someone to help him.
Instead, when it comes to technology, it’s best to teach them how to solve problems. If they run into an error or something happens that is not covered in the instructions, encourage Google searches and independent attempts to resolve the issue before seeking help.
Always make it relevant!
In adult education, known as andragogy , there is a general rule of thumb – to be relevant.
Adult learners value their time and want to know what the practical application of the knowledge gained is. So, if a person is not interested in technology for its own sake, you will get much better results if you always shape the information in terms of its relevance and usefulness.
No one is too old to learn
The stereotype that older people cannot learn anything about new technologies is a complete myth. We know a lot of people of retirement age when they acquired skills like coding or desktop support.
This means that you must put your prejudices aside when helping older users learn new technologies. After all, how would you feel about you if the roles were reversed?