What Is Home Connect?
Home Connect is a Community Tech Network initiative that allows older adults to have online tech classes virtually and from their homes.
Learners receive a free device, as well as five hours of complimentary training from a CTN instructor in order to learn how to use that device.
How Was Home Connect Created?
Since its inception in 2008, CTN has provided digital literacy training and devices in public libraries, low-income housing developments, senior centers, schools, and social service agencies.
However, during the COVID-19 pandemic, we had to temporarily pause all of our in-person activities. Yet, this was the time that folks needed to know how to use the internet more than ever! Thus, Home Connect was born. This training taught older adults how to keep in touch with loved ones, find virtual entertainment, and access key services such as online grocery shopping and telehealth without having to leave their homes.
Although in-person classes have since resumed, our Home Connect training was so popular that we have continued it to this day!
What Are the Benefits of Home Connect?
Home Connect allows more people than ever before to access CTN’s digital literacy training. For example, older adults living in remote, rural areas do not need to worry about transportation time and costs in order to attend in-person sessions.
We’ve also received feedback from homebound and disabled adults about how grateful they are that they can participate in Home Connect without having to leave their households.
In order to make the training even more accessible, it’s available in eight languages: Chinese (Cantonese and Mandarin dialects), English, Farsi, Korean, Russian, Spanish, Tagalog, and Vietnamese.
What If the Learner Still Needs More Technology Support After the First Five Hours of Online Tech Classes?
Once older adults have acquired basic technology skills through the Home Connect program, their learning journey does not have to end!
If a participant still has more that they would like to learn, CTN will pair them with a digital coach. Digital coaches are volunteers from across the U.S. who are passionate about teaching digital skills.
Digital coaches meet one-on-one with their learners virtually each week for one to three months. The time frame depends on the level of support that the learner desires.
The coaches adapt their lessons in order to personalize them based on the older adult’s interests. For example, one older adult might want to learn about spreadsheets, while another wants to find music lessons on YouTube or connect with family members online. Whatever the learner wants to know, that is what the digital coach will teach.
What If Someone Doesn’t Know How to Use Zoom for Remote Training?
A common question that we get asked: If someone doesn’t know how to use technology, how will they be able to participate in a video call for remote learning?
Our instructors start with a phone call, not Zoom.
The tablets that we distribute to learners already have AnyDesk or Team Viewer loaded. These “remote viewer” programs allow the learner to share their screen with the instructor.
For example, in the first session, the instructor will explain to the learner via phone call how to turn on the device — where to find the “on” button. Then we explain to learners where the AnyDesk icon is on their home screen. Once they have located it, the instructor sends an invitation through the app so that the learner can share their screen. This allows the instructor to see the learner’s screen without controlling it and without needing to do a video call.
How Can People Sign Up for Home Connect?
Learners can sign up for Home Connect after being referred to us by a partner agency. Learn how to become a partner of CTN!