By Briana Berger
When I was in elementary school, I created basic websites with HTML and very simplistic puppy games. To say the least, they had a lot of pink and a lot of spelling errors.
It is a cringe worthy thing to look back on, but it was where I got my start in technology and coding.
Since making those childhood coding projects, my pursuit of technological knowledge had taken me to places I would never thought possible. In middle school and high school, I edited and made videos based around technology on YouTube. I even got a partnership and over 25,000 views, which allowed me to monetize my videos.
ID Tech Java Group Shot
During my freshman year, I would code blogs and plugins for various technology based organizations. I was also a volunteer tutor at Girls Place dedicating to educate at risk children with one-to-one learning solutions.Then, in the summer after freshman year, I took a Java course at Rollins College under ID Tech.
In my sophomore year, I was part of an amazing network of girl coders at a local state university in their Girls Who Code chapter, where I had the ability to learn Python.
I participated in and won a semifinalist position in Technovations Worldwide Coding Competition 2016, where I had to create an application to help my community. In my case, I coded an app called SleepBeep, which is to help drivers with their fatigue. I was able to learn from Stanford University with their free online courses. Currently, Im learning more coding material through FreeCodeCamp, which allows a learning experience and certification in Front End Development, Back End Development, Full Stack Development, and Data Visualization. So far, I know how to code with Java, Python, CSS3, and HTML5. So, I would say Ive come a long way from my childhood coding pursuits. As well as, Im well versed in Photoshop, Adobe Audition, and Adobe Premiere.
Besides immersing myself in my love for tech, I spend time volunteering, and doing sports, such as, Tae Kwon Do and attaining a first-degree black belt after training for six years (Kukkiwons 1st DAN, WTF-style). Additionally, Im also on the speech and debate team, a member of the schools GOLD (Leadership Development) club, Spanish club, Mu Alpha Theta and Chemistry Olympiad team. Im part of the Leadership Team at my churchs youth ministry and volunteer my time to give 24-hour care to provide care and companionship to a person with disabilities.
However, being able to use technology or even code it can be a frustrating task. (Especially, forgetting a semicolon in java.) So, I wanted to help. Specifically, I want to help seniors be involved in technology. Unfortunately, Im used to being the only girl in tech-related extracurriculars and activities. During coding events, and even in everyday conversations, Ive faced bias, even if its just small things. I know how it feels to be marginalized, so I wanted senior citizens to be included in the conversation.
Technology came in as a whirlwind and started aiming towards younger demographics. I saw that problem all around me as I spent time with my grandpa who passed away when I was in middle school. My family and I would typically visit him on a Sunday morning, meanwhile the other seniors had no technology to use.
I knew something needed to be done to encourage seniors to join our technological world.
I started planning SeniorTechNet earlier this year, during my sophomore year. SeniorTechNet is a program that teaches senior citizens how to utilize technology to its fullest potential. They are able to use their skills on an iPhone, iPad, and iPad Mini. As well as, they bring their own devices (Android, Windows, etc), if they need extra assistance.
Sessions vary from teaching them the basics to skyping their grandkids. In addition, it teaches them how to relate with their grandkids and be the cool grandparent.
It also allows them to keep in contact with old friends by email or texting. Instruction includes everything from changing their wallpaper to taking a selfie. Instead of seniors being frustrated with technology, they embrace it, being able to have information with a touch of a button. No matter how old or young, it is an essential skill in our society; and the program does so for those in my community.
SeniorTechNet programs are in various places around my town, but our main program takes place at a local independent living facility. I teach the seniors how to customize their devices, communicate with others through email, Skype, iMessage and more, and for a couple of the seniors: make programs with Scratch. In addition to the daily projects, I would send out newsletters and Im currently working on an app for seniors to use for assistance with technology or life.
One of the seniors program from Scratch to make his name.
The passion amazed me. Our senior, Doug, who wrote the program above, was so proud of himself and he always talks about it now with a big smile on his face. Thats my favorite part of SeniorTechNet is by how much the seniors are touched by the program. For example, student was confused why his mobile phone wasnt working with the touch sensitivity. He told me that it hasnt been working for weeks. I looked at how he was taping the screen and I see that the whole time he was using his fingernail. Then, I showed to him how to tap with the warmth of your finger and his eyes lit up. He attempted to do it immediately and when it worked, the biggest smile formed upon his face.
During each session, the seniors make me hopeful that our technological world will change for the better. It shows that no matter who you are, you can do it. Being a minority in whatever you do is scary, but as my seniors have shown: you can do it. Im hoping my movement will not only inspire other seniors to join the tech world, but also help show girls that coding and tech arent as scary as it seems.
Before starting this program, I was afraid no senior would show up. Any person that I knew above sixty-five years old would always yell about how technology never works But, I was determined to try. Due to my experience with speech and debate, I have fun being able to teach and help them in their goals to learn technology. To me, the number of relationships and being able to help others get experience with tech, is what makes this program amazing.As a result of SeniorTechNet, more and more seniors are joining the program. Even though, its not a worldwide movement, its a start to breaking down barriers in our technologically-based society and introducing more seniors to our internet.
As a result of SeniorTechNet, more and more seniors are joining the program. Even though, its not a worldwide movement, its a start to breaking down barriers in our technologically-based society and introducing more seniors to our internet.