Presenting: DigiSeniors at the Connect Chicago August 2017 Meetup

| Anna Draft, MSFT Chicago Civic Tech Fellow

As it goes with launching any new technology, there are cycles for testing, acquiring feedback, and for making revisions. Whether you’re in alpha, beta or have reached official launch, each phase is equally important for understanding how new offerings are received and utilized. At Microsoft Chicago, we’ve tested our program, listened to your feedback, made revisions, and we are relaunching the DigiSeniors curriculum — “beta” than ever!

In July 2016, Microsoft Chicago’s team launched DigiSeniors, a computer training curriculum customized for seniors. In August 2017, Microsoft Chicago re-introduced DigiSeniors at the August Connect Chicago Meetup. For those of you who may be not be familiar, Connect Chicago has an extensive network of more than 900 organizers that deliver trainings, run computer centers, and provide opportunities that help Chicago residents improve their digital skills. This month’s Meetup was led by Leslie Durr and Sonja Marziano of the Smart Chicago Collaborative. Thanks to their help, as well as the superb organizational efforts of Denise Linn, the room was filled with organizers and leaders from across Chicago, each of them involved with and passionate about improving the lives of seniors.

Seniors face many unique hurdles in adopting modern technologies, including physical and accessibility challenges, learning difficulties, and high vulnerability to scams, deceit, manipulation, and fraud. If you’d like to learn more about DigiSeniors’ initial launch and common facts about seniors, read “Introducing the DigiSeniors Program,” by Kevin Wei. 

Following introductions from the group, Microsoft’s Shelley Stern Grach and Anna Draft (myself!) introduced the new DigiSeniors core curriculum, Computing with Confidence. Based on feedback we received on the original curriculum, DigiSeniors has been revised to consist of three modules:

  1. Intro to Computing
  2. Accessibility
  3. Safety and Security

All three modules have been created as open and editable files, so they can be taught in their entirety or as plug-and-play curriculum, and all content and design have been approved by Microsoft Accessibility and our Digital Crimes Unit.

Also presenting at the Meetup were our partners Mark Andersen, Kate Lapinski and Jenny Lockerby of the Chicago Public Library (CPL). They spoke of the Library’s DigitalLearn Platform and CyberNavigator program. CPL’s DigitalLearn platform is an incredible online resource that aims to improve digital literacy in Chicago. The Library’s CyberNavigator program provides on-site tutors to assist library visitors with computer and internet use. With the help of CPL, DigiSeniors content is available through the DigitalLearn platform on the Library’s 2,800 public computers and through the CyberNavigator tutoring program. It was great to hear Mark, Kate and Jenny speak at the Meetup, and to hear about the amazing work they are doing at the Chicago Public Library to support digital literacy across Chicago.

Thank you to the Chicago Public Library, Connect Chicago, all the amazing organizers and community leaders who attended the August 2017 Connect Chicago Meetup. We greatly appreciate everything you do to improve the lives of seniors on a community level, through your networks, and through your available platforms.

If you work with seniors or are interested in improving digital accessibility and safety for seniors, Microsoft Chicago is hosting Train-the-Trainer sessions. These sessions are to guide trainers through our Computing with Confidence curriculum. Following a Train-the-Trainer session, participants are fully prepared and encouraged to lead their own sessions with seniors.

If you would like to attend one of our upcoming Train-the-Trainer sessions, please fill out the following form:

As the central hub for Chicago digital skills access, the DigiSeniors curriculum can also be found on Connect Chicago via the links below:

Computing with Confidence Curriculum

Leaders Guide

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