MS Office training for 70 year olds

  Stevie D 14:12 21 Nov 2003


I have a contract to teach basic MS Office skill - Word and Excel skills to people with an average age of 70. Most of them have never seen a computer before and have enormous difficulty in using a mouse - to the level where they are unable to hold one still with one hand and therefore hold the mouse still a nd use their right hand to click the mouse button.

With this in mind has anybody got any ideas on what I should be teaching them to do? The emphasis is on keeping them entertained as much as it is on teaching the software.

Thanks steve.

  Djohn 14:30 21 Nov 2003

I'm helping a group of people where I live to learn the basics of computers, Office, and sending/receiving e-mails. This is being done through "Age Concern".

I think you will be pleasantly surprised as to just how quick they will come to terms with using the keyboard and mouse, all the people I help are in their seventy's and eighty's.

Leave the double click a little to the left of centre for a slow response and contrary to what most will think, I have found it best to speed up the movement of the mouse to make the actual movements as short as possible.

Keep the basic introduction to the machine itself as brief as you can, the technicalities can come later. Show them the use of the internet and before introducing them to this for the first time, find some local sites of interest and save them in favourites. Theatres/Museums/health and benefits contacts, etc.

I found this was the best way to grab their attention and interest, let them send e-mails to themselves so they can see how it actually works. Take it nice and easy for the first few lessons and you won't be able to keep them away in future. Good luck, believe me, you will enjoy it. j.

  Simsy 16:08 21 Nov 2003

turned 70 this year. He has had his PC for 2 years.

He doesn't have the physical problems that you indicate,(other than needing to constantly change glasses!).

The real problem that he has with using the PC is that the penny just "hasn't dropped" with using Windows Explorer and associated file management. I also know, from the situation we have at work, that this is not an age related problem, and many many folk, (myself included, not so long ago), came on in leaps and bounds having got to grips with Windows Explorer. The other major breakthrough point, was when the penny dropped as to the dfference between "Save" and "Save as..." It seems so obvious when you understand, but until I did I was forever getting lost!

I would also suggest that you give appropriate time to the "accessibility" facilities available in Windows.

I hope this helps,

With apologies if I'm teaching you to suck eggs!



  plankton 16:26 21 Nov 2003

Ask them if there is anything they would like to find out about.

Don't be patronising, and assume they will hang on your every word. They will be clever to the nth degree without realising it.

Try and make it fun (smilies etc...)

Make mistakes yourself, so that they arent frightened of making them themselves.

You will probably learn a lot from them. Accept it gratefully.

Good luck, nice job....:o))

  canard 20:05 21 Nov 2003

I'm 70+ and picked up PC from a couple of 30 min lessons with elder daughter - carried on via asking for advice, online help and info such as PCA. Being over 70 does NOT mean being slow witted even if the little grey cells have lost their edge. Tho I would agree that a bunch of kids will zoom through IT at super speed.NB a lot of ancients have descendants on other continents and would love to be able to keep in touch by email

  Stevie D 00:54 23 Nov 2003

Thankyou everyone for responses so far. It appears from them that I have not been clear enough in my explanation of my query.

I have had some limited experience of teaching people of this age group but the contract in question calls for a great expansion on what I have done so far.

In my experience people of this age group have little difficulty in understanding the concepts by they do have enormous difficulty in manipulating a mouse - frequently they know where they want the mouse pointer to go and have little problem in pointing at the right object - the problem comes when they come to click the mouse button. Frequently they can't seem to hold the mouse still when they click the button and therefore click on the wrong thing. I certainly didn't mean to imply any disrespect of their cognitive abilities.

I would also like to concentrate on uses of excel and word that would particulary relevant to persons of this age group - the work based senarios I have used when teaching before have little relevance to this age group because most of them have retired. Any suggestions along this line would be most welcome.



  woody 01:49 23 Nov 2003

I am in the age bracket but do not experience the problems you mention.

You can try to get them interested in making notes about their past - you will be surprised what they know.Ask them to write about what they think when they are told people are poor today.

Family tree - some free programs on the web.Make notes before the facts die with them.Show them how they can add scans of certs and pics.

I keep asking my wife to put her expenses on a comp program but she threatens to leave me (after nearly half century).

  Belatucadrus 02:47 23 Nov 2003

With any physical difficulty you are going to find the answers are going to depend on the individuals involved. I've purchased assorted devices for various people with special requirements and the solutions varied from large ergonomic mice through trackballs to touch pads. All I can suggest is that you buy one or two of each and let your clients find whatever suits them best, by good old trial and error.

  AVIDA 06:00 23 Nov 2003

Don't forget the usefulnes of playing solitaire during breaks or for ten minutes before the start of your session.This has always been a good way to teach people how to handle mouse movement and clicks
regards roy

  Simsy 06:57 23 Nov 2003

I mention above, that my dad has difficulties with, he does enjoy using Excel.

He uses it to keep track of his money, his current acoount in/outs and his credit card transactions.

I suspect keeping track of money in this way is what many pensioners would be keen to do.

He will also be succeeding in doing something this year that he failed to do last year... mail merging address labels for Christmas cards, using Excel as his database, and Word to produce the labels.

You can also use Excel to keep a database of phone numbers. I suspect, (but can't think off hand how to!), that you can autodial in a "hyperlink" kind of way using the numbers. If it can be done I suspect that many would find that useful?

Good luck,



  Simsy 07:43 23 Nov 2003

And the phone number thing can be done, but only via VBA, which i suspect is not suitable for inclusion in the sort of thing you are doing.



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