Left to their own devices: Management students teach retirees the joys of technology

November 27, 2017
Student Jeremy Maltz sitting and talking with group of retirees, including Clark alumnus Ken Hedenburg, Class of 1950
Jeremy Maltz ’20, right, listens to retirees describe their technology experience; at left is alumnus Kenneth Hedenburg '50, who has a degree in business administration from Clark.

Undergraduates who take Clark University’s The Art and Science of Management, a First-Year Intensive course, accrue skills that prepare them for careers in businesses or nonprofit organizations. They also gain experience by designing a project to share those skills with a community organization, a course requirement.

Students standing include, from left, Jeremy Maltz ’20, Alli Jutras ’19, Joyce Joseph ’19, Hanna Goldberg ’19 and Alyssa Moreau ’20
From left, Clark students involved in the project
at Briarwood Continuing Care Retirement
Community included Jeremy Maltz ’20, Alli
Jutras ’19, Joyce Joseph ’19, Hanna Goldberg ’19
and Alyssa Moreau ’20.

A team of students in a course section taught by Maria Barluenga, professional and experiential learning program manager in the Graduate School of Management’s Stevenish Career Management Center, recently worked with residents of Worcester’s Briarwood Continuing Care Retirement Community. The students — Alli Jutras ’19, Jeremy Maltz ’20, Joyce Joseph ’19, Hanna Goldberg ’19 and Alyssa Moreau ’20 — taught retirees about technology such as iPhones and social media. Among the residents were Clark alumni, including Kenneth Hedenburg '50.

Leslie Reichert, director of activities at Briarwood, said the residents appreciated the students’ three lessons.

“The residents struggled with a lot of things that younger students wouldn’t struggle with, like hearing and sight; they’re not quite so nimble. But the Clark students were very patient with them, and they loved it," Reichert says.

"The Clark students opened the residents’ eyes to the technology and made it so that they’re not afraid of it anymore,” she adds. “One gentleman said he had no idea that his flip phone could take a picture. And that’s pretty exciting for somebody who is in their mid-80s.”

Below, Jutras writes about the experience:

“Technology is something that our generation is so accustomed to: whether it be texting, Facetiming, downloading apps, or sending an email — it’s second nature to us. So, when it came time to choose a topic for the community-based learning project, we decided to bring our technology skills and knowledge to people who were less familiar with the media.

Hannah Goldberg sits with a group of retirees
Hannah Goldberg '19, right, listens to
residents discuss their technology needs.

“We created three lessons that revolved around using devices such as cell phones, tablets, and laptops. In order to teach these lessons, we created a PowerPoint that included material such as ‘Turning on Devices,’ ‘How to Add Contacts,’ ‘How to Facetime,’ ‘How to Print a Word Document’ and ‘How to Use a Search Engine.’ We converted our PowerPoint to booklets so the residents could reference the lessons at home whenever they needed a refresher on the topics.

“The goal of this project was to give back to our community and make a difference in people’s lives. The residents who we interacted with and educated were so grateful that we decided to do this project with them. They not only learned skills pertaining to operating their devices, but got to spend their mornings with a new group of people.

“We even met a pair of residents who had been friends since they attended Clark together. We hope that the residents will now be able to use the knowledge that we provided them, and reference their booklets, so that they can further their skills in technology and teach their friends.

“We’re so excited about the connection we established with Briarwood, and hope that other students decide to reach out to this organization in the future. It’s a beautiful facility, includes a friendly staff, and has smiling residents who are now equipped with new technology skills.”