last updated January 1, 2021
Computer classes for senior citizens can be one of the most fun things we tackle right now.
Because a lot of us seniors know very little, or, even nothing about these machines. And, they are FUN!
There is nothing wrong with our lack of knowledge and it is no disgrace either.
We came from a time when there was no “tech” anything. We used pens and pencils and paper and dial up phones and wrote letters and notes by hand. If we needed information we went to the library or talked to someone. In person or on the telephone. There were no computer classes for senior citizens
Even the word “telephone” seems to be extinct. It’s just the “phone”. iPhone. Smart phone….
It’s like we’ve move to a different country and now have to learn the language.
And, that’s what computer classes for senior citizens is all about. Only, learning this new language is much easier and quicker than you are probably imagining right now.
We all have to start somewhere. The best and easiest free computer classes classes for senior citizens are often found…… on line.
Catch 22. Right?
We can’t take these computer classes for senior citizens on line if we don’t know how to get on line.
So, the very best place to start your computer classes for senior citizens is at your local library.
Most public libraries offer a free basic computer class. It’s usually not called a computer class for senior citizens. It’s just called a basic computer class.
Call your local library. With a telephone, like we always used to do. Tell them you are a senior citizen and you want to take a beginner computer class. Tell them you have absolutely no computer skills. They will get you going.
There is also a place called oasisnet.org where they offer to find free computer and digital technology classes at local senior centers, church halls, public libraries or employment centers, across 30 U.S. cities. You can contact them on line or by telephone: 314-862-2933 ext. 272
Once you have the basic skills, you are ready to go on line and access ALL the knowledge and learning you will ever need.
This is where the adventure becomes Amazing! Almost unbelievable.
Computer classes for senior citizens open up an entire new world to us.
These are wonderful eye opening machines. You can communicate with the entire world. Literally.
You can access more information than you could by going to the biggest libraries in the country. Right from your own sofa. You can watch movies in bed and theatrical events in your own home. You get news…..
From home. From your living room. Even lying in bed in your PJs! You can use a computer and access the world from anywhere!
It’s thrilling. And, once you get going, you’ll wish you had started sooner.
Here are some of the things you will learn to do:
Yes, you will need to buy a computer or be gifted one from a family member or a friend.
Often you can get one for free! Because, as people get new more powerful machines, they often have ones that still function well that they just don’t need anymore.
As long as these machines are not ancient, they are perfect for beginners. And, will do everything you need to do for years.
If you don’t have access to one of those, you can get a nice new one, that will do everything you need to do, for $200 - $300.
As a beginner, you don’t need the best computer
or even a top high end one.
In fact you may never need one that fast or that expensive.
Most people never will.
So, this little segment is just for your information.
For those individuals who want to know what the best machines are, we find they are the ones made by a company called Apple. They are called MACs (Short for Macintosh. like Macintosh apple. Cute, right?)
In our opinion here, and, throughout the professional community, a MAC is considered the best and the one most professionals prefer these.
#1 - MAC is simply the best computing machine made and it doesn’t get all messed up from viruses (computer diseases) when you use the internet. It’s truly the Rolls Royce of computing devices.
#2 - If you buy a new MAC, they will teach you how to use it.
Yes. They will hold your hand until you feel confident enough to go it alone. And, that doesn’t take very long. Just days or a couple of weeks.
Apple also offers free workshops for the company's core products and services. ... Each class is free, lasts for 60 or 90 minutes, and is taught by an Apple Store product expert.
When I bought my first MAC in Los Angeles, California, they sold a training package of private (yes, private one on one, one hour sessions in the store). You get unlimited private lessons at the MAC store for an entire year for only $99. I believe this program is still available.
I found the teachers at the Apple store to be not only highly knowledgeable and always helpful, but, also extremely patient. Extremely patient. I was a very SLOW learner.
A free one.
Often a relative will buy a newer more powerful computer and have a very decent one that still works well that they will never use again.
Hint that you want to learn to use one and ask if they have “an old one they don’t need anymore.” Save a few bucks….
If that’s not happening, buy a very basic Laptop or PC (computer language for: personal computer) new. You can get a nice basic one for under $300.
You don’t need anything but a very basic PC to take computer classes for senior citizens and to learn to do all the things you’ll want to do. You're not going to be running a company with dozens of employees from this machine. You're just going to have fun writings emails, shopping, surfing (browsing) the internet, watching movies, listening to music and concerts, etc....
More about this in a minute….
I was terrible at anything tech. My 10 year old nephew laughed at me and rolled his eyes when I asked tech questions and couldn’t understand the answer he gave me. It was a bit embarrassing.
I found out I was no exception to the uninitiated senior citizen who is basically useless with tech gadgets (this includes: computers, cell phones, tablets…..). Forget about it. That was me.
I had been using my PC for about 4 years. I could email, use a word processor (to write papers), and “surf” the internet. That’s all.
I didn’t even know how to “cut and paste”. You don’t know what that is either, do you? Ha! Of course not! But, you will. Much more quickly than I did.
Remember: This tech/computer stuff is an entire new world for us. And, it has some of it’s own language. Fortunately, not too much. And, it’s surprisingly easy to learn if you take basic computer classes for senior citizens.
Well, once I got smart enough to finally take classes myself (I was "self taught"... big mistake for me.), things moved along very quickly. After about only 2 months of classes, I was not only comfortably proficient, I was editing movies that I took with a digital camera! Pretty cool! Right?
A basic machine is all you will need for computer classes for senior citizens. And, it is all you need to get going and have a ball for years to come.
You don’t need a Rolls Royce to drive anywhere you want to go, and you don’t need MAC to enjoy the internet.
I was using my basic hand me down Laptop PC for 4 years before I bought my first MAC Desktop.
And, you don’t need to learn everything. Or, even nearly as much as I eventually did.
You just need a very basic PC and some basic skills.
After your library basic course, you should be able to get going on the internet with no trouble and easily understand all the computer classes for senior citizens offered on line. You’ll be "surfing the net" and sending and receiving emails with ease. You’ll probably even be sharing photos, watching movies and TV shows, shopping.… before you know it.
How much more do we really need? Right?
And, you can do ALL of that with the most basic machine and some basic computer classes for senior citizens. Yes, that’s all you’ll need.
Without getting into a lot of unnecessary detail, there are two basic operating systems available. Windows (for PCs) and MAC has it's own.
You use them almost exactly the same way. If you can use one, you can use the other with no problem.
Either will work the same way when taking computer classes for senior citizens.
Home users (as opposed to businesses) usually get a PC because they are a lot less expensive than a MAC.
Your basic MAC will cost about $1,000. Yes, pricey.
A basic PC will cost about $200.
You can even get a very nice Laptop PC from Walmart for $249. Here’s a Video where you can learn about it and see how nice it is:
Besides your basic computer classes for senior citizens, a simple PC is all you’ll really need to get going. And, have a great time.
A PC will handle all the basic needs you have and, even though they don’t last as long as MACs, they will give you all the pleasure and satisfaction you need for quite a few years. Maybe forever.
So, don’t spend money unnecessarily. Start simply and economically.
Start with a basic PC (unless you are loaded with cash). And, buy a new one.
Obtaining a used machine on ebay or craig's list will give you no warranty, and, it may have too much stuff clogging it up from the previous owner, and, possible internal problems that will drive you crazy and make you miserable.
If you can get a free one that a family member is no longer using, Great! You scored!
If not, get a new basic one.
Now that you’ve decided to at least think about getting a computer, what should you get?
First: There are 4 types of computers:
Which one should you choose?
That all depends on how you want to use your computer.
So, let’s take a little look at each of these:
The desk top is just that. You’ll need a desk or table to use it. It takes a lot of space. But, the advantage is you can get some very BIG screens that are easy to read.
Desktops have large parts. They are usually a set including a:
Some newer versions known as “all-in-one” desktops, combine the monitor and tower in the same unit. But, you still have a separate keyboard and of course a mouse.
All desktops need to be plugged into the wall electric socket.
The Laptop (like in the video above):
For most seniors this one makes the most sense because it does all the things a desk top computer does, but it is in a nice small foldable case that you can take and use anywhere. In the kitchen, dining room, your office, bedroom….
You can have fun taking your computer classes for senior citizens wherever you want to.
Laptops open and fold closed like a clam shell. A laptop is also known as a notebook.
Laptops don’t require a mouse. Although you can attach one if you like. Instead laptops have a touchpad to do all of the mouse functions.
Laptops run on a rechargeable battery, or, can be plugged into the wall. You will also plug it in to the wall to charge the battery.
When I got my own first computer I got a laptop. I used nothing else for 4 years.
Tablets are not really for seniors. They are too small to see well. They don’t have the capabilities of Desktops and Laptops. And, they are not as handy as Smartphones.
Tablets are smaller laptop type lightweight, portable, wireless things. They are somewhere between a laptop and smartphone. Without the phone.
Taking computer classes for senior citizens on a tablet is usually a
very bad idea because the classes are set up for normal computers that
use a mouse or touchpad: Laptops and Desktops.
Kids love tablets. We usually wind up hating them. And, we regret the money we spent on them.
Again, the screens are so small that they are often hard to read and enjoy.
They have no mouse or touchpad. Instead you touch the screen directly just as you do with a smartphone. Sometimes that’s nice. But, not worth the features we lose.
Tablets can take pictures and make videos like a smartphone. But, you are way better off with a laptop. Especially as a beginner.
If you're buying a cell phone, a smart phone is a better choice. Simply because you can have video chats (where you see who you are talking to) and you can send and receive pictures.
Young people love these because they can email and text (texts are: short messages of just a few words, quickly typed and sent) as well as talk on the phone.
Smartphones are cell phones with many of the capabilities of a PC. But, they are small. This makes them harder to see.
With a smartphone, you can email, use the internet, shop, and run software applications (more on what these are later).
You can also email the pictures you take on the smartphone immediately. Very handy when you want to show someone something right away and they are not with you.
It’s like having a small computer/phone right in you pocket.
The great disadvantage with a smartphone for us seniors is: the screens are small. Very small letters that a lot of us just plain can not see.
Taking computer classes for senior citizens on a smartphone is impossible.
Get a laptop or a desk top.
The screens are larger and easier to read.
Computer classes for senior citizens are designed for Laptop and Desktop machines. Forget the tablets and smartphones in the beginning.
The laptop is our first choice
because you can use it anywhere in the house or anywhere you go.
And, the screens are comfortably large.
If you don’t always want to sit at your desk to write emails, or, sit at your desk to watch movies, a laptop lets you do these things where ever you are. Your sofa. Favorite chair. Even out in the back yard or in the park or a restaurant or in bed.
Laptops are the most fun, easy to read, and very portable. They are no bigger than a 3 ring note book you used to use in school.
This is an important question for many elderly seniors.
Don't worry. Computer classes for senior citizens can be taken by seniors with limitations. As long as the individual has a machine she can see well and use easily enough.
Before you decide on what looks like the most fun machine, make sure the PC you choose is one you can easily use.
As elderly seniors, we often have developed a limitation or two.
So, when choosing which type of PC you want, take any physical limitations you may have into consideration.
What are your personal capabilities?
Here are a few considerations:
A larger screen (desktops and big laptops) is very important for senior citizens with vision limitations. Forget the smartphone. The letters and pictures are tiny!
Some seniors find the touch screen of a tablet easier to work with. But, seniors with hand tremors or joint issues may prefer the more solid and precise control they can get by using a mouse.
Laptops may be the only real choice for seniors who have trouble sitting at a desk.
And, Tablets may not be a good choice for seniors who have trouble holding things in their hands.
The best way to choose a PC, and, find the one most suited to your needs, is to go see them and try them.
If you can, here’s something you should do: Go to any one of the major chain stores like Walmart, Sears, or Macy’s.
Go to the home electronics section of the store and ask the store representative to help you try out the different types of PCs, before you buy one. That way you can experience what they each feel like, how well you can see things on them, and which one seems the most comfortable and easy to use.
Take someone with you. Someone younger. One of your children or grandchildren. One who knows at least a little about PCs, tablets, and smartphones.
Most store reps are very nice. But, sometimes the rep in the store might be too aggressive and try to push you too hard into getting something right away. Because you are older and don't know a lot about these new tech things.
Or, he/she may not give you the time and attention you need to make a comfortable decision. And, you do want to take your time to get the feel of these items so that you get one you really like and can use easily.
Younger people don’t get bullied that way. Store reps know young people are tech savvy. So, bring your “wingman”. For tech items, my niece always went with my Mom. Never had a problem.
All that preparation can be quite scary, exhausting, and seem very laborious. But, one you pick out your machine, the hard part is over.
Now it starts getting fun….
After you learn how to operate a computer, it will be time to learn how to use it easily and effectively.
It’s time for: Computer Classes for Senior Citizens.
That just means: Basic beginner classes.
You won’t find any kids in these basic classes either. These days, kids are all tech savvy. Usually by the time they are 9. Yes, nine years old! So, most students will be in our age group. And, most will be slow learners just as I was. So, you will be comfortable. No matter how new this whole process is for you.
After the basic library class, most of your Computer Classes for Senior Citizens will be on line from this point forward.
Not if you go slowly.
Learning slowly, one small thing at a time will give you the best and fastest results. The best computer classes for senior citizens teach this way.
Taking just one small step at a time will actually have you making progress faster. Too much technical information at one time usually results in not remembering things and frustration! Then we give up because it seems too complicated.
This won’t happen if you take one small bite at a time and don’t move ahead until you are comfortable with that step.
After your basic library course, you’ll be able to go online (get on the internet) easily, and access computer classes for senior citizens that will give you great confidence on your PC.
Many of the best computer classes for senior citizens have small videos (under a minute) that will show you the actual process for each thing you learn.
For me, those videos saved the day!
And, learning just one small thing at a time is easy.
Now, let me show you where to go to find some of the best computer classes for senior citizens.
Where can you find these short video “classes”?
We found a great resource just for these types of “classes” here: “Teach an Old Dog New Tricks”
Cute name. Right? This website, by Tony Holowitz, offers excellent FREE computer classes for senior citizens. There are short videos to take you step by step through what they teach.
You can watch them over and over again until you get the skill mastered. That is why we think these are some of the best computer classes for senior citizens. Or, anyone who wants to learn how to use a PC.
And, very important, you learn one small thing at a time. You won’t get information overload. That was heaven for me!
I’m going to repeat this statement because it is so important: When taking your computer classes for senior citizens: Take small steps and go slowly.
If you work slowly, you’ll actually get skilled more quickly. And, definitely more comfortably.
I must repeat myself here: Don’t proceed forward from any instruction until you fully understand it, and can execute the instruction you are working on comfortably and confidently.
You’ll gain great confidence that way. If you proceed this way, you’ll find everything gets easier and easier as you go along.
As I mentioned, I was a very challenged PC student. Yes, I was S l o w.
I’m much better with mechanical things. Electronics and tech stuff…. Ugh…. and too much information at one time simply made my head spin and I would learn nothing.
In these little snippets, Tony takes it slow and easy. My kind of class!
Here is a nice Video Series of computer classes for senior citizens from The Goodwill Community Foundation, GCFLearnFree.org, that you can get started on right now. And, of course, they are free.
These little videos take you one small step at a time. You can watch each one over and over again until you get it. Comfortably. It’s just the kind of learning I explained earlier.
There are 16 short instructional videos (about 2 - 3 minutes each) that will run consecutively. I will start you with the first one here:
This is what you will learn in these on line computer classes for senior ncitizens:
1) Basic Computer Skill
2) What is a PC?
3) Basic parts of a desktop
4) Buttons and ports (tech language you’ll soon understand) on a desktop
5) Inside a desktop (how it functions)
6) Getting to know Laptops
7) Understanding operating systems (tech language for: “what you’ll be using to find what you want”)
8) Understanding applications (tech word. Don’t worry. There are not too many of these)
9) Setting up a desktop machine
10) Windows Basics (PC): Getting started with the desktop
11) MAC Basics: Getting started with the desktop
12) Connecting to the Internet
13) What is the cloud?
14) Cleaning your PC
15) Protecting your PC
16) Creating a safe work space
There are a multitude of free computer classes for senior citizens available. Here are some others we like:
Easy to understand FREE beginner computer classes for senior citizens are available at GCFGlobal. One of my favorites there is “How to Stay Safe On Line”.
This is EXTREMELY important.
Yes, it’s terrible and unfortunate. But, wherever you find any kind of human interaction, there seems to be people out there that will rob you if they can. The internet is no different.
With hundreds of millions of people accessing the internet every day, there are going to be a few bad apples.
This class doesn’t give you functional skills. What it does is show you how to keep your personal information private.
The course is FREE. Whenever we talk about computer classes for senior citizens, we suggest taking this course as one of the first. Have one of your younger family members of friends help you with it and get you set up properly.
Another great source of computer classes for senior citizens is: Home and Learn. ALL their on line tutorials are free and they are aimed toward complete beginners.
You need absolutely no experience to get started. And, you don’t have to sign up for anything. Everything they have is available right there, free, on your screen. I wish I had known about them when I was starting out.
Megana is also an excellent source of computer classes for senior citizens who are beginners. They have easy to follow lessons for seniors and beginners. Most instructions are done in video lessons that you can watch as many times as you want.
Many of you have been wondering about this part, right?
You're ready to start taking some computer classes for senior citizens and.... you can't type. Right?
Yes, typing is necessary. But, don’t panic. It doesn’t matter how fast or slowly you type.
As long as you can see the letters on the keyboard
and push them with a finger,
you can type enough to use a computer.
It doesn't matter how slowly you get the letters on the screen. Once they are there, they will do the job for you.
I can’t type properly. With 4 fingers of each hand. I use just two fingers. One on each hand.
Neither can I play the piano.
I always wanted to play the piano. It always seemed like such a great and beautiful skill. HOWEVER: I just never wanted to suffer through years of lessons.
The same holds true with my typing.
I should probably be embarrassed to say I still type with just two fingers. But, after 14 years of this, I have decent speed. Not nearly what a real typist has, but, I’m happy.
You’ll be surprised by how your ability and speed to find each letter improves over time. Not overnight. But, it happens.
I am still comfortable with the two finger method that I am using as I write this to you. And, it is all the skill you'll need when taking computer classes for senior citizens.
However: If you are more ambitious, and you want to learn to type correctly, for FREE, sense-lang.org has just the courses for you!
Another great benefit of the internet: A LOT of stuff is FREE.
Do they make special computers just for us?
Some special machines, made just for senior citizens, have very large letters on the keyboard, some have quick links in large boxes on the screen to get you to your most used destinations with one touch (internet, email, movies, etc…)
But, unless you can not function without these features, forget about them. They cost more. And, most seniors just won’t need them.
You’ll know exactly what to choose after you visit a store (as I mentioned earlier) and play with the different machines yourself.
If your loved one, learning to use a PC, is quite elderly and requires the visual aids and easy links I just mentioned, then you might want to look into those specially designed machines. That is who they are really designed for.
Otherwise, we always tell most seniors to forget about them. PCs are really quite simple and easy to use once you get the feel for them.
Don’t waste money on a “senior citizen computer” unless you absolutely need the features. If you really do need the special feature(s), the extra dollars are well spent.
Any basic beginner class is a great computer class for senior citizens.
It doesn’t have to specifically say "computer classes for senior citizens". It just has to say “for beginners”. Or, for people with absolutely no computer skills. Those will usually be the code words for: “senior citizens”.
Because: Kids seem to have obtained most of these skills through birth. Or, through the air they breathe. Or, osmosis. Or, divine intervention.
Kids all seem to be able to just use them. Proficiently. I really don’t know how they do it. Sometimes I hate them!
And, don't worry about being the only older person there either. If you sign up for beginner classes at a location, you won’t be the odd older person there. You will find almost everyone there is mostly older adults like ourselves. You'll undoubtedly make some new friends too!
Why don't you find kids in these classes?
Because kids (as young as 9) already know all of this stuff! They’re like wizards too! In fact, if you ever need a little coaching, your grand children can probably help you out.
But, be prepared. They sometimes just get a little impatient with us.
If they start rolling their eyes and acting like little wise guys, you can ask them if they know how to sharpen a pencil.
That’s all you really need to know to get started with computer classes for senior citizens. Does it seem a less intimidating now? I hope so.
Once you get started it’s really FUN. A LOT of fun.
It’s also a lot easier than you think.
There’s a whole world of communication, entertainment, games, and shopping just waiting for you.
Once you get going, you’ll wish you had done it sooner.
For a Happy and More Independent Tomorrow, ~ William