Magazine article Teach

St Vital School Division Success Story: Dakota Collegiate Students Reach out to Seniors with iMac & iMovie

Magazine article Teach

St Vital School Division Success Story: Dakota Collegiate Students Reach out to Seniors with iMac & iMovie

Article excerpt

Think that seniors and computers don't mix? A fascinating and heart-warming project currently underway in Winnipeg will change your mind.

Dakota Collegiate sits in the middle of St. Vital School Division, right next to three apartment buildings for senior citizens. Dakota wanted to reach out to local residents who didn't have school-age children, so they sent the seniors some letters of inquiry. "What can we do for you?" they asked. The answer came back loud and clear: "We want to learn about computers!"

St. Vital School Division provided some general funding for a seniors computer course, and teacher Kirsty Dunlop wrote a curriculum. Community liaison workers Leslie Later and Linda Watson became program supervisors. Four high school students were hired as instructors along with eight classroom assistants to teach a ten-week session for about fifty seniors. As Later describes it, the subject matter involved everything from "turning on the power to surfing the Internet."

Josephine (Jo) Hogg is a 72-year-old graduate of that first session. "Now I can access my bank accounts over the net and I'm sending e-mail messages like crazy," says Jo, who bought an iMac last November. Her next project is tracing her family tree online. "Many people think that seniors don't want to keep on learning, but that doesn't describe the people I associate with. I find computers fascinating."

Jo and the other participants have nothing but praise for their student teachers. One of the instructors, Kyle Bailly, was only 14 when he began teaching the program. "There is such a variety of people in the senior class," he reflects. "Some have a surprising amount of knowledge, and others are afraid they'll break the computer if they press the wrong key." He says his experience in the program has given him a new perspective on his future career, as well as his high school classes.

The program has had far-reaching results. The Winnipeg Free Press published a feature about the program, as did a community paper called the Lance. Seniors, students, and teachers formed a committee called Inter-Ages to plan and guide the activities. A second session of the course was launched, and the enrollment number more than doubled. As well, student tutors are recruited by Inter-Ages to teach on-site at computer rooms in the seniors' apartments.

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Now Apple has introduced an idea to enrich the experience. …

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