Older adults with technology know-how have the world at their fingertips

Learning how to use Google Maps meant a trip back in time for one World War II veteran

Author: Amy VanDeVelde/Tuesday, April 03, 2018/Categories: Libraries, Lifelong learning, Technology, Volunteering, National

You never know what kind of adventure will happen when someone learns how to use a new technology tool.

As a volunteer Oasis Connections instructor, retired electrical engineer Eddie Dextraze comes to his classes at the Hollywood Beach Bernice P. Oster Branch of the Broward County Public Library in Hollywood, FL, prepared for just about any question his older adult students might have about using computers, navigating email, the Internet and countless other topics.

“Most of the people come to these classes wanting to be able to use technology to stay connected with family and friends and to feel safe using the internet,” says Eddie. “A lot of people come with very specific questions or problems to solve, so I start every class asking what those might be. I try to be prepared for just about anything.”

A wow moment

Eddie was not prepared for what happened one day as he showed one of his classes how to use Google Maps, a tool with the functionality to put any location in the world on your computer screen for a virtual visit.

“It’s a fun technology to use,” says Eddie, who will never forget how one student immediately applied the newfound exploratory tool during one of his Connections classes.

“I looked up and noticed this man in the class who seemed overcome with emotion,” he recalls. “Naturally, I went over to see if I could help and then discovered what he was doing. He was a veteran of World War II and had been a prisoner of war in Germany. All that time, he’d never been back to the town and here he was, thanks to learning this new technology, able to stand right in front of the place he’d been imprisoned, right there on the street at the front door. Everyone in the class was moved as he shared the moment with us. It was really something.”

Keeping up with technology and making it fun

Eddie has taught nearly 200 Connections classes so far. He loves all of it, but especially enjoys things that are visual in nature— digital photography, YouTube and Facebook.

Keeping pace with ever-changing technology so that he can keep the content relevant is half the fun.

“I’ve got a Facebook class coming up in a few weeks, and I’ve been watching all the latest developments that are happening in the news,” Eddie says. “I’m preparing myself to be able to answer some questions, because I’m sure people will have them.”

The Broward County Library has offered 4,400 Connections classes, reaching approximately 20,000 people since 2010.  For more information about Oasis technology offerings, visit the Connections website. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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