Like the rest of the world, we are currently going through unprecedented times. Closures and restructuring, working and schooling from home, learning to approach life in an entirely new way. For any small business or non-profit, especially a startup, these changes hit hard. Teeniors® are tech savvy teens and young adults, who help seniors - or any aged person - learn how to use their technology through one-on-one private coaching, as well as in small group events at senior and community centers.
At Teeniors®, we faced the challenge of moving from one-on-one in person tech coaching and group events, to suddenly having that taken away and needing to explore how we could approach it differently. How do you go about coaching someone when you are physically distant? Not just separated by a room or a building, but sometimes by hundreds of miles? This also brought up the interesting idea that it might be possible to work with people not just in New Mexico, where Teeniors is based, but all over the country and even the world. Especially at a moment when so many of us are feeling the acute lack of interpersonal connection more than ever before, often completely cut off from friends and family. Technology can be a challenge, but like any other tool if used correctly, has the profound ability to connect people, across any distance.
We consider ourselves lucky. After much time and effort, Teeniors® has been able to successfully pivot into what we call “virtual tech coaching.” One hour private sessions over video or phone calls, allowing our client base to expand far outside of New Mexico, into areas throughout the country. In the process, we have come to realize that the need for learning technology - of all sorts - has grown by leaps and bounds. Obviously, learning how to video conference has been a huge draw, as so many aspects of daily life have gone online and Zoom has become a new catchphrase. But it’s also been simple things. How do I use my tablet to access my library and download ebooks? How do I connect with family in another country over WhatsApp? How do I Facetime with my grandkids? We have even been able to explore virtual group classes, so far hosting one on Facebook 101 and another on how to access your digital library apps.
While this time is a struggle for nearly all of us, it can also be a blessing if viewed the right way. It all comes back to what is important, making us re-evaluate and prioritize in a whole new way.
Below are some helpful tips we have found, for approaching online learning and video conferencing.
- Take it one step at a time. Especially for approaching learning online, whether it be a new piece of technology, or a new subject at school, it may not be possible to learn everything at once. Break it down into simple questions and short, digestible facts.
- Join the discussion. Be it in a virtual coaching session, or a virtual school room, never feel uncomfortable asking questions. The more we participate, the more we learn and remember.
- Take frequent breaks. We all get tired and stressed with too much screen time, which has now become synonymous with daily life. Taking a break actually allows you to remember more of what you have learned. Take a breath, take a walk, play with your pets, listen to music, stretch, move, or even look out the window.
- Make sure your tech works before video conferencing. Make sure you have the apps downloaded and working before a video session. Make sure your microphone and camera are turned on. Obviously, glitches happen to everyone, however, it is always better to be prepared. Also, never be afraid to ask for help if downloading an app doesn’t make sense.
- If you are not talking, mute your mic. All of the background noise - family members talking, dogs barking, etc. will be heard by everyone else in the meeting.
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