More and more computer institutes are offering courses for senior citizens who want to navigate technologies that have become an indispensable part of modern life. Liffy Thomas reports in Adyar, Mylapore and T. Nagar

M. D. Thangamani completes a three-month computer course at the Mylapore section of Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan this week: along with a certificate, she will be taking away skills to operate MS Word, Excel and the Internet and to book train tickets online. Abilities that are not going to have IT head-hunters beating a path to her door. But Thangamani is sixty years old and a software job is the last thing she is looking for. The computer course she is pursing is the one that is being offered by Bhavan for senior citizens in its Mylapore and T. Nagar centres, since 2009. Bhavan is not alone. Dignity Foundation, a voluntary organisation working towards helping seniors lead more fulfilling lives, is planning to revive its computer education programme for elders. Eon Consultants at Sastry Nagar, Adyar, offers a one-week fast track course for seniors. Topics covered in one week include handling viruses and Trojans, chatting through Skype and online shopping.

These courses are popular because the seniors are looking to navigate the world of technology, which seems to have taken over our lives. They want to master technologies through which they can connect with their family members and friends who live far away, pay bills and shop online.

In short, the course is designed with the practical needs of seniors in mind.

“On the behalf of the class, a batchmate and I requested the management to teach us Internet banking too,” says the retired banker, who will shortly use her newfound expertise and carry out her monthly transactions at home.

At Bhavan, the syllabi are constantly updated according to suggestions from its students. “How to create accounts at social networking sites, transfer photographs from the camera, use a pen drive and book movie tickets online are among topics that were introduced over the years, in keeping with the expressed needs of our students,” says V. Mumtha, faculty at the computer centre.

“We are, however, wary of teaching internet banking to senior citizens because they tend to forget their passwords,” she adds

“Even after they complete their courses, our students can have their doubts clarified on phone or via email,” says Madan Chandran, managing director of Eon Consultants. Of the 21 students enrolled for the one-week course, three are octogenarians.

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