Are you a public librarian, volunteer or ministry leader that needs to help senior citizen groups understand Facebook? Are you yourself a member of the silver set who is struggling to learn how to keep up with your kids, grand kids, or colleagues on Facebook? Do you, like me, frequently help your parents out with using Facebook?
I taught two classes recently about Facebook to the retiree continuous learning groups that are affiliated with our university and, consequently, with my library. When I worked as a public librarian, a main part of my job was teaching weekly computer and technology classes, and seniors almost always made up the majority of my audiences.
I’m not quite sure why I end up working with seniors so much, but this has been the case for much of my life — even as a teen. I attribute it to the super close relationship I had with my grandparents before they died. But, for some reason, being able to explain confusing emerging technologies to a generation that never owned computers until well into their adult lives (and often after retirement), just seems to come natural to me. I consider it a blessing and a calling.
My Class Tools
For the first class, I put together a dozen or so slides for the “big picture” explanation part of my class since it was part of an ongoing social media discussion series. But, I pretty much ditched the PowerPoint right off the bat and just jumped into the Facebook interface because the class was anxious to “see” how Facebook works. So, for the second class, I didn’t even bother with slides — I simply talked for about 5-10 minutes giving some background and polling the audience’s existing level of familiarity and use with Facebook.
Since our campus is pushing green initiatives pretty hard, I didn’t print handouts either. Instead, I created a custom library guide for the class, to which they can continuously refer back to when they have a question or forget how to do something while actually using Facebook on their own computer (their club linked to the guide on its website). I purposely packed the guide with good, easy to follow, video tutorials that I embedded from YouTube. And I explained to the class that I continuously update all of my library guides as I discover new content or when there are major changes to an application.
Although it’s already embedded into my library guide, I thought it worthwhile to separately include the Prezi presentation I put together after the class, to help explain the concepts we discussed.
My Class Observations
To help others who work with a similar demographic, I’ve noted the key questions, motivations and tools with which both classes were the most concerned.
Top Motivations Expressed:
- Staying in closer touch with family — especially grand kids.
- Sharing photos and video with family and friends.
- Finding long lost family and friends (especially veterans and classmates).
Top Concerns Expressed:
- Privacy risks (identify theft and home safety).
- Computer security risks (viruses, spam, etc.).
- Becoming overwhelmed with posts from Friends and Pages.
- Not continuing “to use Facebook wrong” (according to their kids and grand kids), by mistakenly posting things to their Friends walls instead of privately.
Top Tools Requested to Demo and Explain:
- How to interpret and modify Privacy settings.
- How to upload photos and videos.
- How to share videos from YouTube and links to other sites.
- How to add information to Profiles.
- How to message someone privately.
- How to block Farmville and other applications.
- How to Friend and how to remove Friends.
- How to find Pages for favorite organizations.
What I found the Most Interesting:
- They didn’t like that Facebook catches misspellings, yet doesn’t have a dictionary that users can contribute to, like in Microsoft Word.
- They don’t get why younger generations care about what people ate for lunch, what they are wearing today, or why they feel the need to share every thought they have with the world.
- They don’t get the concept of adding Friends who aren’t really ones friends.