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AARP AARP States Colorado

Expand Your Digital Skills: Senior Planet Has the Courses You Want

Scott Thompson teaching.jpg
Scott Thompson teaching a class.
Carol Lynn Tiegs

Located in Hanger Two at Lowry, the Senior Planet center offers five-week and 10-week in-person courses that teach seniors how to interact with technology. And its welcoming coffee bar is the perfect place to make new friends.

Pat Wise hadn’t used computers in her 35-year career as a mental health professional. A quilter and embroiderer, she wanted to learn to download patterns from the internet to her sewing machine. Now she comes to Senior Planet three or four days a week.

“I just love to learn and this is really expanding my mind,” said Wise. “And it helps keep you up-to-date on technology. That’s hard when you’re not still working.”

In-person classes range from Online Shopping and Online Selling to eBay and Paypal, Protecting Information Online and Online Rx Resources. In addition to foundational courses on various social media and internet platforms, Senior Planet’s in-person programming includes:

• Lectures introducing a platform or a form of technology;
• Hour-long workshops taking participants step-by-step through signing up for an app or platform, or how to use a new form of technology;
• 30-minute, one-on-one Tech Talks with a trainer or skilled volunteer to answer questions;
• Group Tech Talks; and
• Guest speakers.

Senior Planet’s five-person trainer team are 100 percent older adults themselves, who “can meet people where they are,” according to Dayton Romero, Mountain and Central Regional Program Manager. Some are retired educators like Scott Thompson, who spent his career as a K-12 educator and administrator with the Jefferson County School District. Others come from the technology field like Wanda Woods, who balances a full-time job as a data reporting analyst with running a small computer training business she’s owned for 10 years.

“I missed teaching,” said Thompson, who teaches two courses, offers lectures and provides tech support. “I just love it here.”

“The instructors are so wonderful,” said Wise.

“It’s very open and friendly,” agrees student Pam Jones, a retired insurance agency owner who moved to Denver from Hawaii and takes several Senior Planet courses. “People are so helpful.”

And Wise and Jones agree that they have both made a lot of friends.

Senior Planet at Lowry is part of the nonprofit organization Older Adults Technology Services (OATS) from AARP. OATS was founded in 2004 to help seniors learn and use technology to live better in the digital age.

The first Senior Planet center opened in Manhattan in 2013, and the center at Lowry opened in 2019. In 2021, OATS joined AARP as a charitable affiliate, welcoming participants virtually from all 50 states to Senior Planet programs. In addition to in-person programs AARP members can take advantage of online lectures, workshops and demonstrations. There are also online exercise programs, including Morning Stretch, which has garnered up to 700 people in a single class, and an online book club.

Have a question about Zoom? Need assistance setting up an email or guidance on what to look for when buying a new computer? Senior Planet’s free hotline is run by patient technology trainers who can help answer your tech questions. The hotline is open from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. MST, Monday through Friday, at 888-713-3495. If you prefer to ask a question over email, you can email to receive a written response.

Ready to get involved? Stop by the Senior Planet center at 7585 E. Academy Blvd. in Hanger Two at Lowry for a cup of coffee and to get acquainted or call 720-328-0875. Center hours are Monday through Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m, or visit the website. Learn new skills, save money, get in shape and make new friends.

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