According to the Pew Research Center, 85% of U.S. adults now own a smartphone.
This statistic is not surprising. The world today relies so much on technology, and it offers a lot of great benefits. From paying bills to ordering groceries to connecting with friends and family, innovations over the last few years have affected most of our daily lives.
But sometimes it can be difficult to keep up with new products, apps, systems and upgrades. Luckily, there are several ways to learn more about technology — and you don’t have to spend a dime to do it.
Free Ways To Learn More About Technology
I’ll start with some of the free learning tools nearly anyone can use. Keep scrolling for senior-specific resources.
Family and Friends
Family and friends can be great resources because they’re often happy to share their knowledge. People who grew up with smartphones, computers, tablets and other technology can be great teachers.
Find a family member or friend who’s willing to help. You could offer a trade: Maybe take them out for lunch or dinner or invite them over for dinner in exchange for some training.
Libraries are great community resources. In fact, most libraries offer computer classes and other technical training.
You can also borrow books for computer beginners at the library. And it can be a great place to meet others who are also learning. Call your local library to learn about the types of training it offers.
Goodwill Community Foundation
The Goodwill Community Foundation is a website with plenty of educational tools. Learn Microsoft Office, email, image editing, navigating social media, cell phone use, internet, Microsoft Windows, MacOS, Linux, typing skills, security and more.
The foundation doesn't just offer free computer training. It also offers math, English and reading training. You can get training toward taking your GED, job placement help and more. It is a site full of useful tools. See the complete list of topics here.
Home and Learn
In an easy-to-understand format, Home and Learn offers tutorials on Microsoft Office, Microsoft Windows and even some web design and programming.
You can find free video training for almost anything on YouTube, and you don't even need an account to use it.
For example, if you want to learn how to use Microsoft Word type “Microsoft Word tutorials” in the search bar. You will be presented with a list of videos.
If you want to keep track of videos you enjoy, create a free account to subscribe to channels and build playlists. You can learn more here.
Google for Learning Applied Digital Skills
All you need is a free Google account to take advantage of Google's online learning tools. The website offers a lot of free video-based lessons. Much of the content is computer how-to videos.
You can work at your own pace, and the videos are designed so that even a beginner will understand. Log in with your Google username and password to access all of the free training.
Lifewire is a technology-based website that offers lots of free tutorials. They're easy to understand and geared toward beginners. You can sign up for the Lifewire newsletter to get computer tips and other information sent to your email. Visit the website and click on "How-To" on the toolbar to see a list of available content.
Open Learn offers thousands of free educational topics. The site is not computer-specific, but there are plenty of computer-related resources there. The learning is self-paced. You can register for a free account although it's not required.
You can take the courses without registering, but if you do register, a record will be kept of the courses you have taken. Use the toolbar to browse through the available subjects or use the search bar to look for something specific.
Do you own an iPhone, iPad, Mac or other Apple device? If so, you can visit a local Apple store for free training in a variety of subjects. It is a hands-on learning experience. Visit the Apple site and enter your location to see a list of upcoming courses in your area.
Community Colleges, Recreation Centers and Senior Centers
Your local community is a great place to look for resources.
At Community Recreation Centers, you can find technology education and a host of other resources including fitness classes, cooking and gardening classes, art classes, quilting and sewing groups and more. Some even pair older adults with students for different types of learning.
Senior Centers are another valuable resource for both training and connecting socially. My local Senior Center offers training, bus trips, games, dances, dinners, and other fun activities. Many community colleges and universities offer resources for older adults. In fact, some even offer free tuition for seniors. See this list to find out what each state offers.
AARP (formerly the American Association of Retired Persons) is an excellent resource for everything relating to seniors. AARP TEK Academy holds webinars and workshops free of charge. These are located throughout the United States and offer a wide range of topics from computers, cell phones, tablets, online safety, social media and more.
AARP has also partnered with OATS/Senior Planet to offer free training for seniors. Read more here on how to sign up and participate.
For more information call Toll-Free Nationwide: 1-888-OUR-AARP (1-888-687-2277) or visit the website.
Tech Boomers offers more than 100 free courses, teaching basic computer skills in an easy-to-understand format. Free video and print tutorials are available. Here are just a few of the subjects on the site: iPhone and Android use, social media, internet privacy and safety, how to use Wi-Fi, Airbnb, YouTube, email, video conferencing and more.
Senior’s Guide to Computers
This site offers a huge variety of topics including computer basics, email, Windows, using the internet, computer hardware, how to back up your data and more. It includes a large glossary of computer terms and has recently added tutorials on how to use Zoom.
Check out Eldercare Locator, a program through the U.S. Administration on Aging. On the homepage, enter your AIP code to find resources in your area or call 1-800-677-1116. You can get help and advice on a number of different topics — not just technology-related subjects.
These are just some of the resources available for older adults. Always check locally because each community offers different things. And ask around in your area: You can often find resources you didn’t know were available.
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