Tag Archives: Technology advice

New VTEP Curriculum

With the help of coordinators, volunteers, community partners, and participants, ETAG has helped hundreds of older adults develop the skills needed to become comfortable users of technology. ETAG’s programs prioritize the needs and interests of the seniors participating. With patient and understanding volunteer technology tutors, the interactions participants engage in makes their visit both enjoyable and rewarding.

The 4000+ visits to the Volunteer Technology Assistance Program during 2016 reflect the participants’ commitment and eagerness to learn and become a part of the digital world.

A constant challenge many organizations face is how to improve. More specifically in ETAG’s case, what can be done to make the participant’s experience more valuable while also enhancing the volunteers’ involvement? To address this challenge head-on, ETAG’s team has created a new EDUCATION based curriculum for participants.

The new Volunteer Technology Education Program is divided into three progressive sections; learner, intermediate, and adventurer, each with its own subjects and objectives.

Learner
The learner level curriculum begins with an introduction to Windows and Apple computers and ends with an explanation of online security and virus protection. Users also have an opportunity to focus on Android/Apple tablets and a few “apps” available. Objectives in this section include but are not limited to, having a basic understanding of a computer’s hardware, knowing how to connect to Wi-Fi and distinguishing what files are safe to download from the Internet.

Intermediate
The intermediate level curriculum starts to explore email, cameras, photos/videos, and maps. Additionally, applications such as WhatsApp and social media websites like Twitter and Facebook are popular intermediate topics. Objectives in this section include but are not limited to, attaching a photo to an email, finding directions on a map, and posting on Twitter or Facebook.

Adventurer
The adventurer curriculum dives into advanced level functions on various social media websites and exposes participants to online storage services in “the cloud”. Objectives in this section include but are not limited to, tagging photos on Facebook, creating backup files and playing online games such as Bejeweled.

TechChecks
To help participants feel comfortable while progressing through the Volunteer Technology Education Program, TechChecks were designed to “check” a participant’s knowledge of a particular task. TechChecks are an excellent way to ensure that participants are reaching an understanding of the topics being discussed. For instance in the subject “Introduction to Windows”, participants are asked to properly power on and off their computer to prove to themselves that they confidently know how to.

The program has no time limit. Whether it’s two months or a year, participants are free to take as much time as they need to build the skills to succeed. Participants have the opportunity to leave the program with an understanding of both basic and advanced level skills in technology, which includes most popular devices, applications, and operating systems. The completion of the program is a reflection of the participant’s hard work and graduates receive a certificate of recognition from ETAG!

Below is the current schedule for VTEP. Please call and make a reservation if you’d like to join us!

Oakville
690 Dorval Dr. Suite 100
905.875.3851 X 5008
Monday (9am-12pm)
Wednesday (9am-12pm)

Brampton
263 Queen St. E. Suite 14
905.595.0722 X 4000
Wednesday (9am-12pm)

7700 Hurontario St. Unit 601, Suite 100
905.457.4747 X 3013
Friday (9am-12pm)

Mississauga
50 Burnhamthorpe Rd. W. Suite 300
905.949.0049 X 1266
Friday (9am-4pm)

Malton
7420 Airport Road, Suite 104
905.677.0007 X 5233
Wednesday (9am-12pm)

– Rosario Commisso (Intern and ETAG Volunteer Technology Tutor)

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)

Transferring Photos

You’ve taken a perfect picture of your grandchild or “snapped” a great vacation shot on your smartphone. Now the question is, how do you transfer that photo to your computer so you can store it, forward it on to others or edit it to your liking?

It’s simpler than you might think.

3 common ways to download pictures from a smartphone are:

  1. Using a USB cable (that probably came with your smartphone)
    Connect your smartphone and computer together using the USB cable. If you are using a Windows computer, you’ll see a new item appear in the My Computer menu that represents the smartphone you have connected. If you open it, you will find a file called DCIM, which is the default system used to organize photos on smartphones. Save the pictures contained in the DCIM file to your computer by dragging them to a folder or your desktop. Here’s a quick video that demonstrates how to use the USB cable on Windows.If you are using an Apple computer and an iPhone, connect your two devices together with the USB cable, and open the iPhotos program on the computer. Click on “import photos” and you’re finished.Click on this link to read more instructions specific to transferring photo’s from iPhones.
  2. Email the photos to yourself
    If you only have a couple of pictures to transfer, you can always email the photos to yourself. Using the email app on your smartphone, enter your own email address in the “To” line and select attach files ( you’ll see an option to search and attach your pictures to the email). Send the email with the photo(s) attached from your smartphone and then access that email on your computer to download the photos.
    NOTE: It’s recommended that you do this while connected to WIFI, not your cellular data.
  3. Upload the photos to Facebook
    If you use Facebook, you can upload photos to your account straight from your smartphone. From your smartphone’s Facebook app, access the photos section of your own profile. Select the option to “Add photos” and choose the ones you want to include. Once you have uploaded the photos to Facebook, you can view your Facebook profile on your computer, access the recently uploaded photos and download them. Feel free to delete the photos from Facebook afterwards.
    NOTE: It’s recommended that you do this while connected to WIFI, not your cellular data.

For more information or troubleshooting help, or to walk through the process with an ETAG volunteer technology coach, check out the website for program locations nearest you.

– Lesley Morris (ETAG Volunteer Technology Coach)
LesleyeMorris.com

Keyword searches

The Internet is an incredibly powerful and versatile tool. One of the Internet’s best qualities is the seemingly endless amount of data it consists of. Any kind of information is just a few clicks away, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week… Wow!

The trick to finding the right information online is to track down the most appropriate search results. In order to do that, you must first think of the specific keywords that will lead you there. Keywords are a small selection of important words related to your query or information request.

The first step to finding information online is to use a search engine. Using a search engine, a person can type in their selected keywords, which in turn, generate the search results available. Sometimes you should think of other keywords you can try, if you do not find what you’re looking for with the keywords you’ve already tried. It’s important to note that many search engines are able to find similar or the same information. A short list of popular search engines includes:

www.google.ca

www.yahoo.com

www.bing.com

www.duckduckgo.com

To save some time and effort, only type specific keywords in the search bar, rather than entire questions. For example, if you’re looking for an Indian restaurant in your area, rather than typing, “Where is the nearest Indian restaurant in Toronto?” try typing “Toronto Indian restaurant”.

Google is likely the most popular search engine used by Canadians. There are a few tricks and shortcuts that can help improve your search results:

  • Use quotation marks to get results that contain exact words: “Indian restaurant”
  • Type define:(word) to quickly find the top definition of the word in question
  • If you’ve invested in stocks, type stocks:(symbol) to receive quick stock updates
  • Type weather:(city) to quickly get the current week’s weather
  • Type filetype:(.mp3, .avi…) if you’re looking for a specific type of file, like an mp3 format song, or an avi video

Happy searching!!

– Aneet Hundal (ETAG Volunteer Technology Writer)

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)

Tablets are so Easy!

Technology is easier to use than ever before… touch screens can be used by anyone, including older adults living with dementia, mobility and dexterity issues, and other common disabilities, like vision impairments. Everybody – with guidance, support, and a willingness to learn – can find great value in touch technologies and the Internet.

Tablets are the easiest device for beginners. Older adults without previous computer experience can begin by playing online games, asking Google to find information using a “voice search” command, or zooming in on their home town map – in only a few minutes.

To read ETAG’s full article posted on www.retirementhomes.com, click HERE.

Seniors IT Fair

Come experience an event dedicated to seniors and technology. In collaboration with the City of Mississauga and Peel Senior Link, join ETAG for a day of technology education and support with the help of our AMAZING technology tutor team!

Tuesday February 25, 2014 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Burnhamthorpe Community Centre – 1500 Gulleden Drive, Mississauga, ON

Enjoy a free light lunch, a variety of local exhibitors, guest speakers, workshops, program demonstrations, prizes, and more!

Whether it’s controlling the mouse and learning the basics, setting up an e-mail account, or understanding the difference between Facebook and Twitter, ETAG’s team can answer just about any technology based question you might have.

Participants can get help with all types of technology, from personal laptops and tablets, to cell phones, MP3 players and digital cameras. With WiFi available, participants are encouraged to bring in their own devices.

Admission is FREE but space is limited!

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)

Online Newspapers

 

In a nation as culturally diverse as Canada, there are millions of people living here who still have strong ties with the country they once called home. Likewise, there are also many people who were born in Canada, and have “moved away” from the province or city they grew up in, attended school, or worked at one time.

If you are at all like me, you are probably still interested in what is happening “back home”. The Internet provides you with ample means to stay in touch with your roots via that age-old tradition – the daily newspaper! If there is a particular newspaper from your home town that you would like to read, you may simply use Google to find a link to it, as most newspapers around the world are “online” to some extent these days.

There are also many websites that present you with a list of links to multiple newspapers from all corners of the world. A few of my favourites are:

http://www.thepaperboy.com/newspapers-by-country.cfm

http://www.newseum.org/todaysfrontpages/flash/

http://www.onlinenewspapers.com/

http://www.refdesk.com/paper.html

http://www.allnewspapers.com/

Please note that much of the “general” newspaper content found online may be viewed for FREE, although many of them may charge for the “full content” of their daily editions in order to help pay their bills 🙂

In any case, why not give it a try to remain aware of the latest news and happenings from all points abroad, as you continue to embrace your new home sweet home in your corner of Canada.

– David Spearns (ETAG Volunteer Technology Tutor)