Get free tech help this summer

Seniors are becoming more comfortable with technology, with the Pew Institute reporting that some one third of those over 65 are online several times a day and 8 percent online almost constantly. While an improvement over previous years, those numbers lag far behind the rest of the population.

Fortunately, seniors can do something about it. Whether you need a basic introduction to computers or to an iPad, want to set up your own website for your business, or learn about social media or online banking, you can find free, in-person tech help: the first-of-its kind Senior Planet Exploration Center in Chelsea, or its affiliates in upstate New YorkMontgomery County, Maryland, or its satellites throughout the New York metropolitan area.

All Senior Planet Centers are gearing up for an exciting summer session: upstate New York is gearing up for registration from Monday, June 25 –  Thursday, June 28, 2018, for five- and ten-week courses (learn more here); Montgomery County is offering a lecture series at various locations (here’s a calendar) and the Chelsea Senior Planet Exploration Center is hosting a Course Information Fair on Thursday, June 21, 2018, between 12:30 pm and 2:30 pm and Friday, June 22, from 10:30 am to 12:30 pm.

“Our classes offer a welcoming environment where no question is regarded as ‘silly,’” says Chelsea Senior Planet’s Program Associate Elizabeth Pooran. “The Center’s courses were designed to be taught at a steady pace to accommodate members at all different levels. Everyone in the classroom gets the attention they need. In addition, our curriculum is designed in a way that allows users to learn necessary and basic skills step-by-step, with many opportunities to practice and ask questions.”

If you can’t commit to a weeks-long program, you can always stop by an Exploration Center for a ‘Tech Talk’ – a 20-minute tutorial given by one of the Exploration Centers’ patient, tech-savvy volunteers. You don’t need to be a computer geek to be a Senior Planet member, either – a perennial favorite among its courses, “Computer Basics,” is designed for people who have never turned on a computer or touched a mouse.

Senior Planet membership, which is free to adults over 60, offers perks such as free access to computers and the internet when available, free classes, frequent workshops and one 20-minute Tech Talk per day about a specific computer, tablet, or smartphone-related issue. In each class – whether it’s Computer Basics, Beyond the Basics, iPad essentials, or Social Media – each member gets a free, comprehensive course book to take with them to help them retain what they’ve learned. “The books allow students to continue practicing,” says Pooran, adding that trainers make sure to touch on the previous lesson in each class.

The free classes, which are offered at locations throughout New York City’s five boroughs, in upstate New York, in Montgomery County, Maryland, and soon in Denver, Colorado, are great reasons to join, but other members like the social aspect, as well. As member Lillet Roach, 69, explains, “You meet a lot of friends from different walks of life, listen to their experiences, and they listen to you. The atmosphere is out of this world.”

Want to amp your tech savvy? Here’s how to learn more and register.

New York City

The Chelsea Senior Planet Exploration Center at 127 West 25th Street, Manhattan, is hosting a “Course Information Fair” on Thursday, June 21, from 12:30 pm to 2:30 pm and on Friday, June 22, from 10:30 am to 12:30 pm. “The Course Information Fair gives members an opportunity to ask questions about classes for the upcoming quarter,” says Aaron Santis, Senior Planet’s Program Manager. “Members can come find out what the different courses are, what skills are needed to participate in them, how to register, and find which course is best for them.”

Registration for the summer quarter in Chelsea takes place on Monday, June 25 (beginner), Tuesday, June 26 (intermediate), and Wednesday, June 27 (advanced), starting at 10:15 am. Doors open at 10:00 am but get there early for a first-come, first-served spot. Please also note that the Chelsea Senior Planet Exploration Center is closed from Monday, July 2 – Friday, July 6, 2018.

Senior Planet has also partnered with 22 community-based sites around New York City to build and maintain state-of-the-art technology labs that support the needs of the diverse communities in which they are located. These labs are open to the public and often host Senior Planet courses. Each lab is operated by its host organization but serves as a satellite extension of the Manhattan center. Call the labs to find out their hours or get more information.  You can find a list of the Senior Planet satellite labs here.

Upstate New York

Plattsburgh: Registration for the summer quarter on June Monday 25 – Thursday, June 28, 2018, from 10:00 am – 2:00 pm at the North Country Senior Planet Exploration Center (located in the Champlain Centre).

Malone: Registration for the summer quarter on Tuesday, June 26 – Wednesday, June 27, 2018, from 10:00 am – 2:30 pm at the Malone Adult Center

Montgomery County

Registration is open. To register, call or visit the location where the courses are being held. The registration details for each course are listed here on the course information page.

Courses at all locations begin the week of Monday, July 9, 2018, unless otherwise noted, run through Friday, September 14, 2018. If you have questions about your skills or ability to participate in a particular course, please call 646-590-0615 (New York City), 518-566-4422 (North Country), or 240-753-0676 (Montgomery County).

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