Talking Tech – New Skills, New Opportunities

How digital literacy training at Vivalon is helping our community

Talking Tech – New Skills, New Opportunities


In today’s digital age, technology has transformed the way we work, play, and connect with others. You may already own a smart device like a phone or tablet, but perhaps you haven’t fully explored its potential. Alternatively, you might be new to these devices and eager to venture into the world of technology. If this sounds familiar, you’re not alone.


According to a Pew Research article titled “Share of those 65 and older who are tech users has grown in the past decade,” an increasing number of older adults are embracing smart devices, and they’re wanting to learn more about them. The challenge is these tools seem to evolve faster than we can keep up. So, where should you begin?


Jim is a Vivalon volunteer who asked the same question. When our new Talking Tech program started, he knew he wanted to sign up.


“Even though I’ve been around the business world and the nonprofit world,” says Jim, “I only knew enough about computers to use the systems for work. I had an iPad and a cell phone, but I was only using them primarily for telephone calls and some online searches. I realized though I’m sitting on top of a little computer that I’m not using, so I needed to be ‘brought up to speed’ as my grandkids would say. When I heard Vivalon was going to offer classes, I got my name on the list.”


Let’s get to know Jim better.


Jim moved to California from Illinois in 1967 after completing his military service. After graduating from San Francisco State University with a degree in International Marketing, he had a successful career in customer service management for major national companies. Eventually, he decided to shift gears and worked as a veterans’ representative for the State of California.

“Eventually, I’d had enough management though and I ended up working for the State of California as a veterans’ representative,” Jim reflects. “We provided support for veterans, particularly ones coming back from Vietnam and then the younger ones that came back later. They needed a lot of help with job searching. In some cases, they had to conquer a few other problems, but I primarily worked on the job search side. It was very rewarding when things came out right.”

Eight months ago, Jim wanted to give back during his free time, so he joined Vivalon’s volunteer team. “I reached a point where I had the time, and I felt I’d like to do something that’s worthwhile. I called Vivalon, and they signed me up to volunteer in the food pantry. It’s been very rewarding. For one thing, it’s a nice group of people that work down there, and we’re doing something that’s really needed. There’s a shortage of food for a lot of these families, so I’ve really enjoyed it.”


Introducing Talking Tech


Vivalon’s Talking Tech program launched this year and includes a host of digital literacy trainings, including basic and intermediate classes in person as well as virtual learning opportunities.


“I thought the class was really well structured,” says Jim. “The two teachers, Linda and Jill, really paid attention to the individual. I had some trepidation because I’d never gone to any classes in the past. I just learned as I went and asked other people, but I discovered there are all these other things I could do. I just needed to actually learn everything that these iPhones can do and start practicing and putting them into effective use.”


Vivalon partnered with Technology4Life, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping adults of all ages learn to use technology for healthier and more connected lives, to provide Talking Tech classes. Jill, an experienced instructor who has been teaching classes through Technology4Life for seven years, guides her students through the ins and outs of using iPhones and iPads.


“We’ve been doing classes with Vivalon for a number of years,” explains Jill. “We’ve taken the best of all the past years’ experience and put it together in a four-week program that is more structured. It’s been a really well-received program. There’s been wonderful feedback, so we’re very pleased.”


“There’s a maximum of 12 students,” Jill continues, “so it provides individual instruction for answering most of their questions, and we have a nice relationship that’s built over the four weeks’ time. We’re creating a comfortable environment where adults are feeling much better about the technology that they have and their ability to use it.”


During the program, Jim has learned a variety of skills, including how to enhance his online search results, utilize dictation to send messages, and make the most of the applications on his phone. Thanks to Talking Tech, Jim and his classmates now see new opportunities unfolding before them.


“Most of us were just barely using the capabilities and the applications,” Jim explains. “I was sitting next to a woman, and we kept comparing notes. It was the same thing for her. We both said, ‘wow, we can do this.’ It’s been an eye opener for me.”


If you’re thinking about joining Talking Tech at Vivalon, Jim shares some words of encouragement.


“Go for it!” says Jim. “The trainers are really very considerate to each individual’s level of knowledge. They spend time with you until they are sure you’ve got it. It’s a no-risk deal. Whatever skills you acquire here you can build on. I’m really enthusiastic about it!”


Digital literacy classes and one-on-one training are free at Vivalon. Apply today, and we’ll match you with a program that’s right for you. Learn more and apply here or call 415-456-9062.


Need a device? A free tablet is available for eligible clients.



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