Oak Bay students lead seniors in UVic technology sessions

Following a successful series of summer technology sessions for seniors at the University of Victoria, plans are underway for a fall series

Oak Bay High School student Koa Jacques helps local seniors at a technology session at the University of Victoria. More sessions are planned for this fall.

Oak Bay High School student Koa Jacques helps local seniors at a technology session at the University of Victoria. More sessions are planned for this fall.

Robert Lee

News Contributor

Following a successful series of summer technology sessions for seniors at the University of Victoria, plans are underway for a fall series.

Today’s technology means it’s now possible to read books, watch movies, listen to music, and stay in touch with others, all in the virtual world, however not everyone knows how to navigate this new digital terrain.

So while the proliferation of smartphones, tablets, and computers has changed the ways individuals interact, more services are out of reach to people who are unfamiliar with these devices.

The UVic sessions are a way to address that.

Designed to help seniors learn the fundamentals of using digital technology, the session welcomed a passionate group of Oak Bay high school students, including Koa Jacques, Robert Lee, Trista Lee, Adrian Li, Sunny Lin and Liam Marshall, to lead the hands-on exercises.

Supported by Dr. Yvonne Coady, UVic professor and the Director of Outreach, Recruitment, & Retention at the Department of Computer Science at UVic, and Elizabeth Errington-Wynans, the Computer Science administrative officer, the session was designed to investigate topics seniors wanted to learn about.

“I loved the energy and dynamics of coupling the relatively young [high school students] with the relatively old [seniors],” noted senior participant Tara Douglas. “I was very impressed and I really enjoyed the experience. [The volunteers] included us in [their] world and made us feel special.”

It quickly became clear that the limiting factor was not the number of attendees, but rather the number of computers available.

“The lab was packed to the rafters – we had to get more chairs – with an exciting group of enthusiastic seniors, all asking cutting-edge questions about engaging with today’s technology,” Coady says.

“They set an incredibly high bar in terms of what UVic can expect not only from our own mainstream students, but in terms of meeting the needs for digital literacy in the general community.”

During the session, the Grade 12 student volunteers revealed the secrets of using Google and answered many questions.

“It felt really good to know that I had helped the seniors understand a little more about their own devices. The technology of the world is changing quickly, and sometimes it can be hard for people to keep up,” Jacques says.

“Everyone was so welcoming and supportive,” added Trista Lee. “I think it’s great to be able to talk with people outside of our generation.”

Information about sessions in the fall will be posted at csc.uvic.ca/Outreach/csvp.htm.