By Melody Brown-Peyton, The Daily Record of Dunn.
DUNN - Area senior citizens are proof that "learning never stops," as they take computer classes two days a week at the CCCC-Dunn Center. The classes are part of continuing education programs offered by Central Carolina Community College (CCCC).
This program is designed for seniors who walk in the door without knowing anything about computers. Digital technology plays a vital role in learning new skill sets. Many of the seniors said that before they started taking computer classes, computers intimidated them. Now, this class has given them the confidence they need.
Some of the computer programs that seniors are learning are Microsoft Word, PowerPoint and Excel. They are learning how to put together a travel itinerary and a brochure. And after completing the program, students earn a certificate.
With this window of opportunity, seniors don't have to shy away from the use of computers. During their working careers, many seniors did not use computers every day and most did not have a computer in their home.
Computer technology has become a part of everyone's lives. From banking, the gas pump, dining and telephones, technology is all around us. Some of the seniors said they wanted to have computer skills so they could volunteer in their church or civic groups.
"I started taking computer classes at Central Carolina Community College back in the fall. I wanted to learn more about Excel," Laverne Smith said.
Seniors found their new skills to be rewarding from a sense of technological freedom. Many stated that taking the classes has been a vehicle to collaborate with other seniors and it gives them something to do outside of the house.
Students said that instructor Robin Jones makes the class enjoyable because she is patient with them.
T.C. Everett, who serves as the coordinator for Computer and Technology Programs at CCCC, said that one way to make seniors comfortable with technology is to have them in an environment with their peers.
"So they don't feel like they are competing with younger people," Ms. Everett said.
One thing Ms. Everett found to be most rewarding is when a senior stops her in the hallway and beams with pride about the new skills they are learning.
"Seniors are like sponges -- they want to learn -- and we give them the tools they need," she said.
One challenge she's faced with is finding instructors who work well with senior citizens.
Ms. Jones appears to be the perfect fit. Many of her students have taken other classes with her.
"My goal is to provide seniors with hands-on opportunities while they work at their own pace," the instructor said.
Research has shown that when seniors have an active lifestyle, they enjoy life and live longer.
The mission of CCCC is to serve as a catalyst for individuals, community and economic development by empowerment through accessible lifelong learning. The college has the vision of providing learning opportunities that contribute to economic progress and cultural enrichment for students and the community.
Melody Brown-Peyton, The Daily Record. Instructor Robin Jones helps her student, Minnie Crite.