Digital Natives to the Rescue
In this high-tech era of computers, multiple devices, confusing operating systems and endless subscription services, non-digital natives (anyone born before 1980) are often at distinct disadvantage. Even after years of work experience with technology, retirees are left without their trusted organizational IT support. While children or grandchildren can serve as technology interpreters for older generations, retirement frequently creates the need to learn the language and changing dialects of tech.

For some Osher Institutes, it is digital natives to the rescue! OLLIs are finding power in intergenerational partnerships, engaging undergraduate students as technology trainers and coaches for their parent’s or grandparents’ generation of OLLI members.

As far back as 2018, OLLI at Bradley University formed an undergraduate group known as “Bradley Fellows” who sharpened their leadership skills and civic responsibility through volunteering to help OLLI members get the most out of their smart phones. Members sang the young volunteers' praises on post group evaluations, including, “Almost all the benefit I derived from the group came from the one-on-one time with the students. They were knowledgeable, accommodating, endlessly patient...it was even more helpful than I expected.”

Digital native expertise isn’t limited to undergraduates. A tech start-up company called Near,” originated by students at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Business, partners with the OLLI at Northwestern University. Near’s founders graduated and formed their company to provide “personalized tech coaching to enable all individuals to use technology to stay connected with their loved ones, stress-free.” OLLI Members are offered a trial discount to experience Near, with many becoming fans of the expanding service. Says OLLI member and Near customer, Mary Minnow, “What I love about Near is that they will help you in office hours, by phone, text, or will even come to your home. I also like it that you are matched with someone who is best suited to your needs and gets to know you. Highly recommended and love getting the OLLI endorsement and discount.”

Most recently, OLLI at California State University San Bernardino (CSUSB) and undergraduate intramural, PAWS Radio, a tech and media producing organization, have teamed to provide one-on-one training. Members are paired with CSUSB Students to learn the ins and outs of mobile devices, using the internet, downloading and using apps, and the myriad subjects related to personal devices. OLLI director Angela Allen notes, “Research shows that seniors often lack confidence and struggle to adapt to rapidly changing technology. This intergenerational bridge is a natural alignment for our OLLI members with the tech savvy CSUSB students.”  
Living Well Into the Future Podcast
In August 2019, the OLLI at Berkshire Community College hosted a University Days program called, “Living Longer, Living Better: Changing the Culture of Aging.” This program inspired OLLI members to form a special interest group on aging that led to a podcast that continues today.

Living Well Into the Future is hosted by Julie B Adler, an OLLI member, lawyer, non-profit executive, radio/podcast producer, writer, and artist. She conducts conversations with lively and engaging guests of all ages for in-depth discussions about food, climate, housing, and health. The conversations stimulate discussions and often move individuals to action.
The second season of Living Well Into the Future launched on February 11th and brings new and insightful perspectives from members of different generations on the vital topic of sustainability and resilience in the face of changes to the environment. This second season will continue to feature a diverse range of experts working on the local, state, national, even international level. 
LWITF aims to educate and inspire listeners to initiate discussion among and between the generations with an eye toward action. It provides a platform for thought leaders, innovators, and experts to share their insights and experiences, encouraging listeners to think about the world around them. The second season promises to be even more thought-provoking and impactful than the first, delivering engaging and educational content that will inspire and motivate listeners to informed discussion and considered action toward a healthy and secure future.
Living Well Into The Future is produced by Julie Koppenheffer and is supported in part by the OLLI at Berkshire and WTBR FM. Learn more about this podcast.
Curriculum Corner
OLLI at University of Texas Medical Branch
Intro to Alexa for Caregivers:
Smart Home = Smart Caregiving
Course Length: One Session
Course Instructor: Marianne Pascal
Course Delivery: Zoom
Course description: This course is for the caregiver who is already familiar with concepts from the Introduction to Alexa class. The specific caregiver focus means you will see how you can use Alexa across two different homes for communication and monitoring. You will learn how to: change basic Alexa settings to work better for the user, use the drop in and call features, explore how to create routines for reminders, and simple features like music. This course is part of a future series, specifically designed to help caregivers implement high and low technology tools for someone else - especially people supporting a parent from a distance.
Of note: This course builds on the Introduction to Alexa course and allows caregivers to take the technology they already have and harness it for a new purpose with demonstrations from the instructor’s own home. For those providing caregiving, these tips and tricks can allow for more freedom for the caregiver and patient. The ability to rely on reminders and routines from the technology allows a patient to regain independence lost when caregiving becomes necessary. This course goes beyond technology training and provides education related to health and wellbeing.
Quick Tip - Alternatives to a Full Print Catalog
Since the onset of the pandemic, many Institutes experimented with digital only catalogs, while others have continued to print and mail full catalogs. But there are those who are finding a middle ground. Several Institutes are using postcards, brochures, or smaller print catalogs and supplementing the information online. These options run a wide range. Some use postcards and brochures that direct to the online catalog via a URL or QR code. Others print condensed catalogs and the additional information (instructor bios, course descriptions, etc.) are located online. Here is an example of the OLLI at University of Cincinnati’s condensed catalogue (8 pages), their instructor bios and other information are online. 
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Is there a staff opening at your Osher Institute? Please send it to us at oshernrc@northwestern.edu