BEIRUT: It’s not easy for older people to cross the threshold into the online world, and it doesn’t help when their kids or younger relatives chide them for being technophobes. Yet for those who did not grow up in the digital age, the benefits of hopping on the online train are numerous, whether it’s being able to use Skype and social media sites to chat with family members living abroad, reading articles on the Internet, or having a chance to meet new people.
Skillz – a cultural space that offers a variety of programs, workshops and events – will Tuesday hold an open house to launch its computer courses for seniors.
The session will also be an opportunity for instructors to explain the course material and for potential students to ask questions.
The classes will be held on a monthly basis from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and all eight sessions cost $250 in total. They are usually held in French as most seniors are more familiar with the language, but the teachers who give the classes also speak Arabic and English.
The reason such classes are important, explains Yoka Nassar, co-owner and manager of Skillz, is that many seniors have a lot of questions concerning computers and the Internet, but most do not receive the explanations they want.
“This is a structured approach,” she says. “It opens their world.”
Although only a small number of seniors attended the previous classes, many have come to benefit from the course as an opportunity to talk to their relatives abroad, with participants given extensive teaching on how to use Facebook, Skype and create and use email accounts.
Nassar is hoping a good number of seniors will show up to the open house and enroll in the classes this year.
“The course aims to teach seniors the basics,” she added. “It is also aims to reduce the apprehension of coming to a center to learn.”
The classes will include learning basic computer skills, becoming familiar with Windows, Mac, or iPad, creating an email account, communicating through the Internet through social media websites, and browsing and surfing the Web.
Seniors are also urged to bring their own laptops or tablet devices so their settings can be adjusted in class. Students are asked to practice what they learn at home by performing small tasks such as writing emails.
Those who have already taken previous classes are also welcome to come to the center and ask questions whenever they feel the need to.
Skillz aims to make seniors feel at home by creating a comfortable atmosphere and an informal setting. The center itself is not very institutional-looking, Nassar said, and coffee, tea and snacks are served at every class.
Skillz is located at 56 Pere Yousef Hayek Street, just off Gouraud Street in Gemmayzeh, Beirut. For more information on the open house and the classes, call 01-584-234 or 03-222-522.