Geeks Give Back
Geeks Give Back
KENNESAW, Ga. (Jul 6, 2016) — With technology changing so rapidly, Kennesaw State computing students are taking their digital knowledge into the community to help senior citizens overcome their technology dilemmas during the “Geeks Giving Back” event.
During these tech sessions, senior citizens ask students from the Association of Information Technology Professionals chapter for help, such as how to sync passwords across devices, set up group texts or get rid of malware. The students share their computing and technical knowledge with a generation attempting to embrace the digital era.
“Our students break down information into a simplistic form, and do their best to educate on technology issues,” said Dawn Tatum, lecturer of information technology in the College of Computing and Software Engineering and faculty advisor for AITP. The free sessions for senior citizens are offered as an outreach program of the Association of Information Technology Professionals student chapter.
Students and seniors alike enjoy the interactivity, and students do more than simply fix their problems. They teach the seniors citizens what they need to do in the future and help them write down step-by-step instructions, if needed.
“For me, it’s a lot like helping my grandmother. You have to be patient,” said Isaura Romero, 22, an information technology major. “It’s nice to give back and help people. Some don’t have kids or siblings that can help them. I’m glad that I can.”
For Kirk and Ann Wells of Acworth, it was a chance to ask questions without having to wait on children or grandchildren.
“Everyone is working,” said Kirk. “We didn’t want to rely on our children to help us whenever we need it.”
The couple came to get expert advice for issues they were having with email on their tablet. They learned how they are able to fix the problem when they return home and also learned a few other shortcut email features.
“By far, this ‘Stump the Geek’-type session, where senior citizens get one-on-one help, is the most popular,” said Tara Brewer, program specialist at the West Cobb Senior Center, who organizes the help sessions each quarter.
And sometimes the technology challenges can be difficult.
“Many senior citizens have questions about their cell phones, typically because someone else set it up, yet they don’t really know how to work it,” she said. “They may want to learn how to send a text message or upload something to the cloud, even when they don’t really know what the cloud is.”
The free sessions help more than the senior citizens who benefit from the expertise.
“Our students are learning the soft skills they need to accompany their degrees,” explained Tatum. They learn how to interact with others and focus on communicating effectively while troubleshooting.
When the West Cobb Senior Center partnership with the University was started two years ago, Brewer said it was a way to provide a low-cost alternative for seniors with individualized attention.
“Typically, big cellular companies will provide support and make cell phone users pay for that help, but many of our seniors are on fixed incomes,” she said. Brewer added that big companies often just fix the problem rather than showing the cell phone user – a senior citizen – how to avoid the problem or manage it in the future.
The students, on the other hand, do their best to educate the senior citizens about the technology.
“Each time we come to the senior center, the students really enjoy the challenges that they are presented with, and are often surprised by the amount of knowledge that senior citizens already have about digital technology,” said Tatum.
Kennesaw State’s AITP chapter works in conjunction with the student chapter from Chattahoochee Technical College to provide this outreach every three months for senior citizens.
A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers more than 150 undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its more than 35,000 students. With 13 colleges on two metro Atlanta campuses, Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia and the third-largest university in the state. The university's vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the region and from 92 countries across the globe. A Carnegie-designated doctoral institution, it is one of the 50 largest public institutions in the country. For more information, visit kennesaw.edu.