Category Archives: VTAP

Volunteering Rocks!

ETAG… It may seem like an average volunteer opportunity, but for me it was SO much more. The exhilarating joy one receives from putting a smile on someone else’s face is priceless. I met many seniors at ETAG in my Burlington placement. Not only did I help them learn how to use technology but I established a connection with each of my “students”. It’s not just about showing seniors how to make a Facebook account or introducing Skype to someone so they can chat with their nieces in Vancouver. It’s about making a positive change in another person’s life so that they can feel good.

One lovely lady I helped regularly found great value in our time spent together. The appreciation she had for me was indescribable. We had to go through so much trouble to change an email password… It involved calling Cogeco and contacting Microsoft, however we did not give up when the going got tough. In the end her problem was solved, and the smile on her face said it all. It made me feel wonderful to know someone valued my time and effort. I would do this forever if it meant making someone else’s life better. Plus, ETAG’s Volunteer Technology Assistance Program is free.

I believe we as human beings should always try to share our knowledge. There are so many people out there who have much less convenient lives than ourselves just because no one has ever been there to teach them. ETAG gives these kindhearted, open-minded, seniors a chance to expand their range of access. I have volunteered at many places, but ETAG was one that I looked forward to every week.

I thank Chris, Joanne and all others involved in this program for making a change in the world. I hope to be back in my placement on PA days and during vacation time, as currently I am in high school. Thank you for this amazing opportunity and anyone interested should not hesitate for one moment to try this program out, whether be it as a volunteer or a student 🙂

– Jasmeet Chahal (ETAG Volunteer Technology Coach)

Now Hiring Volunteers

ETAG is looking for technology savvy people interested in a volunteer position starting January 2015. As a technology coach, volunteers will help adults 55+ learn about the AMAZING technologies of today. Common topics include, Email, Facebook, Google, Microsoft Office, Skype, laptops, cell phones, tablets, and digital cameras.

In short, volunteer positions are weekly and require a 1.5 to 3 hour commitment each week. There are volunteer positions available in neighbourhoods across the Halton and Peel regions, including Oakville, Brampton, Burlington and Mississauga. The address for each location is available here.

If you’re technology savvy and this volunteer opportunity appeals to you, please send an email to volunteer@etagonline.ca to apply.

For more information about volunteering with ETAG, please check out the volunteer section of our website. There’s also lots of great technology information available on our Facebook page.

Hope to hear from many of you soon! Enjoy your day.

– Chris Bint (Executive Director)

What are Apps?

Applications or “apps” are computer-generated programs created for smartphones, tablets, and various other devices. Phones and tablets often come preloaded with many handy apps that work as calendars, clocks, and even check the weather specifically for your location. There is a huge variety of apps available on the market. The categories range from monitoring your health and fitness, to productivity, to keeping up with sports, or even just for enjoying some games.

Apps can make using your devices more convenient and enjoyable. You can customize your phone or tablet to make it unique to you. For instance, if you’re interested in photography, there are many photo editing apps that can enhance the photos you take for a professional finish. Once you have edited your photos, you can share them with your friends and family via social networking apps like Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.

This is a list of 4 useful apps you can download for free:

Converter Plus

The preloaded calculator on your iPhone or iPad is designed for basic calculations. Converter Plus allows you to convert currencies and units so you won’t have to search for conversion tables anymore. It also does advanced computations like mortgages, loans, and fuel consumption, to name only a few.
Apple App Store:
https://itunes.apple.com/ca/app/converter-plus-units-currencies/id370146222?mt=8

Dropbox

Dropbox is a cloud storage app, which is useful when you start to run out of space on your smartphone, tablet, or computer. After signing up for a free account, you start by uploading your files over the Internet onto Dropbox. Once complete, you can open your files on any device connected to the Internet that you log into your Dropbox account with. That means you can access your photos, music, or documents from just about anywhere.
Apple App Store: https://itunes.apple.com/ca/app/dropbox/id327630330?mt=8
Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.dropbox.android&hl=en

Duolingo

Duolingo help you learn a new language right from your phone or tablet. Languages you can learn include Spanish, French, English, German and many more. The app starts with the basics like phrases, food, and animals. As you get better, Duolingo starts introducing more advanced language rules and vocabulary, pushing users to build on their knowledge. The app monitors your progress to keep you on track with achieving set goals, so you’ll be reading, speaking and writing in a new language in no time.
Apple App Store:
https://itunes.apple.com/ca/app/duolingo-learn-languages-for/id570060128?mt=8
Google Play:
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.duolingo&hl=en

iBooks, Kindle

The above are apps that allow you to read ebooks on your device. With slight variations, these apps all offer a similar service – a large collection of books from every genre that you can purchase and read on your device. You can also access free ebooks from your local library.
The App Store:
iBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/ca/app/ibooks/id364709193?mt=8
Kindle: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/kindle-read-books-ebooks-magazines/id302584613?mt=8

Google Play:
Kindle: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.amazon.kindle&hl=en

– Aneet Hundal (ETAG Volunteer Technology Writer)

Organize your files

Computers are a wonderful repository for a multitude of information, but unless you organize your data, it can become a virtual nightmare whenever you need to find something.

Most computer data resides on our internal hard disk drive (usually known as the “C: Drive” in the Windows world), although it can exist in many other places as well, such as external hard drives, CDs, DVDs, or USB drives, to name a few. For the purpose of this blog post, we will stick to the internal hard disk drive example; however the same concepts are applicable to the other storage devices as well.

Just about everyone is familiar with the idea of a plain old office “file cabinet”, where office workers store information (usually pieces of paper in file folders), using some form of “index” (such as alphabetical order), to make retrieval of this information relatively easy. Well, let’s use our imaginations for a moment, and pretend that your computer’s internal hard drive is nothing more than a drawer in an office file cabinet.

In computer terms we have “files”, which can be data in many forms, such as documents (just like the old-fashioned pieces of paper), photos, music, videos, spreadsheets, presentations, and so on. Each file has a “name” along with other attributes such as its type, size, and location on the computer’s internal hard disk. Files can exist totally on their own, or they can be grouped into “folders” just like in our office file cabinet example.

For tips on how to create folders in Microsoft Windows, watch these Youtube clips 🙂
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q2ka3149-z4
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bFN4BlgrQ2I 

In the office, one could simply throw their many pieces of paper or folders randomly into the cabinet drawer without any form of organization, but this practice would be disorganized and inefficient when the information on those papers/folders is required. Instead, the person doing the filing usually has a “system” that they use to keep the files and folders in some logical order to make it easy to find the information later.

Unfortunately, many computer users fail to employ a similar technique of file organization, which makes for nothing but headaches and frustration. Computers will blindly let you throw your files randomly into the drawer (the hard disk). There is definitely a better method for organizing files.

A folder can contain individual files, groups of files, or even other folders (sub-folders). You should create “folders” (with names that make sense to you) on your hard disk. When you wish to create a file, it would make life much easier for you if you store the file in an aptly-named folder, so that you will know where to find it tomorrow, next week, or next year.

For example, you could create a folder called My Music to house all of your music files. In the My Music folder you could have a sub-folder for each genre of music (Classical, Jazz, Pop, Reggae, Rock, etc.) Within each genre sub-folder, you could have an additional sub-folder for each album or artist, and then you could store the individual tracks (files) in its appropriate album or artist sub-folder.

If you only have a few music files on your computer, then this may seem like overkill, but if you have a music library containing hundreds or even thousands of songs, it becomes almost mandatory to organize them in some form of logical manner (in a way that has meaning to you, and the way that you think).

Having said all of this, Microsoft Windows does offer you some help via the program known as “Windows Explorer” (Please Note: Not “Internet Explorer” which is used to access the Internet). Windows Explorer allows you to explore and/or search the data on your computer, and to help you navigate through your files, folders, and sub-folders in order to find exactly the data that you are looking for. The Windows Explorer program can be invoked in several different ways, but the “Windows Key + E” keyboard shortcut combination  is probably the easiest way to start this program.

For those who are new to Microsoft Windows, I strongly urge you to master the Windows Explorer program as soon as possible. With this knowledge, your computer experience will be a much more pleasant and rewarding time.

Be sure to check out these helpful Youtube videos that might help you get started. Youtube is an AMAZING tool when you’re trying to learn something new, no matter what the topic might be.

How To Organize Computer Files

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bTJFNmrtW9g

Windows Explorer Tutorials

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OdPdLwDSFZ8

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RAi1n2lHUYU

– David Spearns (ETAG Volunteer Technology Tutor)

ETAG on Rogers TV

ETAG on Aging in Peel

Last week, ETAG was featured on an informative television show called Aging In Peel, put together by our good friends over at Peel Senior Link.

Chris Bint and Phil Shahinian joined host Ray Applebaum to explore what ETAG does to support technology use for adults 55+ and why it is important.

We also discussed ETAG’s helpful Technology Enabled Living program, that takes a mobile computer lab with WIFI Internet to retirement communities and long term care centres. It’s an incredibly accessible initiative that ETAG is happy to work on with Peel Senior Link, with support from the New Horizons for Seniors Program 🙂

In case you missed it, a link to the interview is available on the Rogers TV website.
Click here to watch!

Volunteer with ETAG

Volunteers are an integral part of our community. Many social services rely on the efforts of a committed volunteer team to make a difference. When someone volunteers, everyone in the equation is a winner; the community or cause benefits from the contribution and the volunteer benefits from gaining experience. In fact, volunteering may be arguably the most invaluable experiences of your life. Being a volunteer can elevate your learning and give you insight into opportunities that you would normally not have had.

Volunteer opportunities for seniors play a important role for North America’s aging population. They provide an avenue for healthy seniors to remain active and stay connected with their community. According to Statistic Canada, seniors dedicate on average, over 223 volunteering hours per year, more than any other age group! This is not a surprise to us at ETAG; we have over 50 volunteer technology tutors assisting with our Volunteer Technology Assistance Program (VTAP) each week, many of whom are experienced older adults. Our successful VTAP initiative is made possible by our highly qualified volunteers who work tirelessly to bridge the gap between technology and older adults.

At ETAG, we are always looking for technology savvy tutors. If you’re a regular and confident technology user who has excellent communication skills and a passion for helping others, don’t hesitate to attend our next information session on March 7th. Visit our Volunteer section for all the details.

– Simone Carpio (ETAG Lead Volunteer)

Best volunteers ever!

Looking back on this past year, it’s hard to believe how much we have accomplished as an organization. With such a committed team, we have significantly grown our Volunteer Technology Assistance Program (VTAP), making it available 3 times a week in 5 locations across the Peel and Halton regions. VTAP alone has generated over 5500 client visits this year (not including December). Additionally, we have developed our Lifelong Learning Workshop program, allowing us to reach out to hundreds of adults 55+ in the GTA .  It is without question that this has been made possible by the contributions and support of our AMAZING volunteer technology tutors.

Chris and I are both truly grateful to have the opportunity to work with such a diverse and outstanding group of individuals. We are always humbled by the amount of generosity and care that is continuously displayed by all of our volunteers. We consider you essential members of ETAG’s team. For all that and more, Thank You!

As we move into 2013, I have no doubt that we will continue to grow. We are always looking for ways to better ourselves and the programs we offer.My goal is to not only educate our older adult clients but to provide each of  our volunteers an opportunity to acquire new skills in the process. I am always looking for more input and feedback. Please don’t hesitate to share your idea’s and thoughts with me.

Once again, I would like to thank our volunteer technology tutors for an amazing year.

Happy Holiday’s and a prosperous New Year!

– Phil Shahinian

Boomers “like” Facebook

Baby Boomers at ETAG are embracing Facebook at an increasing rate. A recent article in the Huffington Post outlines a study conducted for the Canadian Press that reveals a 10% increase in the use of social media since 2011 by the baby boomer generations. Foster Research recently released a report entitled Digital Seniors, which documented that 49% of seniors in the United States use Facebook.

More and more, volunteers are getting questions from our adult (55+) participants about Facebook at ETAG’s Volunteer Technology Assistance Program. It’s an exciting time because ETAG’s participants are starting to recognize the importance of social media  to connect with long lost family, old friends, and colleagues from their past careers. Facebook has become a medium that allows information, like pictures, do-it-yourself projects and recipe ideas, to name just a few, to be shared between users, which creates amazing opportunities to stay connected with one another.

One of ETAG’s participants, Rupert, attended ETAG’s free program to get assistance with his Facebook account. He was pleasantly surprised to find photo’s of his old neighbour’s child, who he had not seen in over two years! “It’s great to be able to stay in touch with my neighbour through Facebook,” he said when asked how he likes using Facebook. ETAG can help any adult (55+) learn how to do it, in a simple way that makes sense to everyone, regardless of how little experience they have.

– Simone Carpio (ETAG Lead Volunteer)

Knowledge Exchange

When it comes to learning about the modern technologies and gadgets of today, there are many benefits for adults 55+ to learn from younger, more technology savvy generations. Some might think, what do the younger generations get out of helping older adults?

Volunteering as a technology tutor for adults 55+ with ETAG has benefits of its own. First, young volunteers are able to learn from the older adults we work with. They can instil in us how the world once was and how their experiences have helped them learn valuable life lessons. Whether the discussion is gardening, relationships, or world events, to name just a few, having access to the ideas and opinions of an older generation helps many volunteers understand the world we live in a little better.

Second, volunteers are in a position to give back to our community, helping others achieve their goals. This is a great feeling! It’s always an amazing day when I’m able to help someone connect with their family via email or Facebook for the first time, or showing them how much incredible information is available using tools like Google and YouTube. The smile our older adult students get when they’ve accomplished something for the first time is the best part! That’s why many ETAG’s volunteers continue to stay involved.

At ETAG, adults 55+ are able to learn how to use  technology and be engaged with the younger generations, which is sometimes the only opportunity for this type of interaction for all the individuals involved, both young tutors and older students. This is always illustrated at ETAG’s Volunteer Technology Assistance Program, which pairs volunteers with adults looking for advice and help using technology. SO MUCH FUN FOR EVERYONE 🙂

– Ashia Arshad (ETAG Lead Volunteer)