CTN’s Home Connect program was released in early March as a response to the stay-at-home and social distancing guidelines put in place after the pandemic’s arrival. Created by CTN staff, this innovative program enabled CTN to transition from our traditional in-person training to a virtual training platform. It is a great tribute to the program design team that this first modification made to the program expands available options to our learners.
CTN just released a new Learning Pathway, Creative Expressions, which increases the number of customized learning options from five to six. This newest Learning Pathway provides our older adult learners with an additional choice as they customize their personalized list of training modules taught by their digital coach. Work with a digital coach volunteer begins after the completion of a learner’s initial five one-hour basic skills and familiarization sessions with a staff trainer.
Maria Vazquez, a bilingual digital literacy trainer, proposed the idea of this Learning Pathway after completing her initial training sessions with Elpidia Morales. In addition to being an older adult, Elpidia is also a COVID survivor dealing with the stress and uncertainty of her recovery as well as depression, loneliness, and isolation related to continuing stay-at-home orders. When Elpidia shared her love of drawing, Maria introduced her to Google Keep — Notes so she could indulge this passion. It was an instant success.
Maria says, “Working with Elpidia reminded me of the importance of technology and connectivity to an older adult — and even more critical for a COVID survivor. The introduction to the new app coupled with her resilience produced amazing results. She uses her tablet and a love for drawing as a creative outlet that has brought joy back to her life.”
The new pathway has been designed to identify and safely download both free and subscription apps related to music, script, and other writing, art, and drawing. A list of free online learning resources is also included. CTN has carefully selected apps that will help our older adult students deal with depression and isolation experienced during the pandemic. Additional program modifications are being considered as new needs and desires are identified.