IT students, Learning in Retirement members partner for technology training
Learning in Retirement of Waukesha County (LIR) members and WCTC IT-Computer Support Specialist students joined forces this spring for a training experience that benefited both retirees and WCTC students by improving their technology and communication skills.
Information Technology students in instructor Melissa Seamonson’s IT Services Practicum course met with LIR members to provide customized, one-on-one support and help them learn more about how to navigate their laptops, smartphones, tablets and other devices. In total, eight LIR members, along with additional community members, signed up to participate.
IT students reached out to the LIR members to get a feel for what issues and questions they had about their technology, and they worked closely with retirees to personalize the learning experience. Individual sessions were held generally once a week, either in-person at the College or via Zoom, and included information on security, password management, how to access email, how to navigate the internet and social media sites, tips for using different software and other topics.
“The students did a great job of meeting (the LIR members) where they were at,” Seamonson said. “They were dealing with people who had different experience levels and comfort levels with technology, so the students were really able to customize the experience for each person.”
Developing customer service skills
While the LIR members became more savvy in using their devices, the students were gaining valuable, practical experience by simulating what they will do on the job, Seamonson said, such as writing a ticket and troubleshooting.
“Many of our students get into IT because they are techy, but they soon realize how important those customer service skills are,” she said.
Lucas Wendorf, who graduated in May from the IT-Computer Support Specialist program, said the experience provided him with hands-on practice, making him more prepared for his current role as an IT help desk specialist at a local bank. He was matched with two LIR members and met with them on campus for one to two hours each week for the duration of the course.
“I had the opportunity of getting to talk and explain things in ways that people with no technical background would understand, so that helped strengthen my skills a lot,” he said. “Both my LIR members were very willing to learn anything, which was helpful and made the process more fun.”
Gaining confidence in using technology
One of the LIR members Wendorf was matched with was Iva Richards, who was interested in learning more about the features on her iPad.
“Luke was very patient with me and recognized right away that I am techno challenged. He never talked over my head, and he was always willing to repeat an instruction until he was sure I had a grasp of it,” she said. “He encouraged me to call him between sessions if I got stuck, and I came to each session with questions. Luke gave me doable ‘homework’ to encourage me to actually use the device during the week.”
Richards added that by working with Wendorf, she became less intimidated to use technology, and she has a better handle of texting, taking photos and video chatting with friends and family.
“I am so glad that LIR takes advantage of WCTC student's expertise to enhance my learning at my age,” she said.
Seamonson said that the partnership with LIR started about four years ago with members’ working with students in the Train the Trainer class and has grown to include the one-on-one sessions through the practicum.
“It is a wonderful practicum – for the students and the LIR members,” she said. “It’s such a win-win.”