I attended a one-hour session billed as ‘Learn your Ipad’ at the Apple Store in Newmarket. There were eight of us – all seniors on stools around on of the giant display tables. There were three other classes going on around us. The store didn’t open until 11 o’clock, but people were lined up outside, leaning on the railing watching. I though, what the hell is so important that you’d give up a couple of hours of free time on  Sunday morning to rush into the Apple Store? I can’t imagine the chaos that was Black Friday.

olderlearnersThe young man who facilitated the session probably knew his stuff, but he had no idea how to present material to adult learners – older adult learners. After asking how proficient the folks were – except for me, they were newbies – he touched briefly on settings and logging on to wi-fi, but then he jumped into how to upload photos, make videos and edit photo albums. I kept thinking, this is so wrong – these are not tech-savving 20 somethings. Start with the basics – this is how you turn on your device, this is how you enter your data, set up an account, download apps. Some of them didn’t even have an Apple ID, which is the key to downloading from iTunes.

I got a bit out of it, but not what I’d hoped. Of course the other folks were discombobulated. I spent half the time running between two ladies and another gentleman showing them how to do simple things like finding the apps he was talking about. One man had heard of Skype but had no idea how to do it; another woman just wanted to set up her gmail and close web pages in Safari. Another gentleman said he’d run his own companies for 50 years but had never been so frustrated. Very unfortunate.

When I think of all of the money the folks at the table had spent on Apple products, I was puzzled by the lack of attention paid to the older demographic – we have the disposable income and the time. I realized the products sell themselves – the company obviously doesn’t have to do much of anything by way of customer service.

I sat there thinking boy, what an opportunity this would be for an entrepreneur. Classes for senior learners – tablets and PCs. A couple of hours of Q&A in a setting where they weren’t overwhelmed by background music and too many Apple Geniuses in their snappy get-ups.

Even though I’ve a veteran PC user and love Android, learning Apple-speak wasn’t that difficult – in part because I’m not afraid of the technology. My classmates kept thinking they’d do something wrong and break their devices. The instructor didn’t give them the reassurance that iCloud gives them the flexibility to try out new things. And the apps – that’s why I invested in an iPad – to have access to more apps than I will ever use. But I love the challenge. And so many of them are free.

I asked why there wasn’t one class for beginning users and one for advanced – out of self-interest, of course. He said they used to have separate classes but people kept signing up for the wrong one. My consultant voice piped up, ‘why not have a short questionnaire online so you can find out the level of knowledge in advance’. He gave me a blank stare. So I hushed up and let him do his thing.

knitvidThe store should have provided a handout – a simple how-to with links to their training material. It’s on the website, but it’s hard to find. Before we left, I gave my classmates the URL for the YouTube videos they could watch to learn their iPads. There’s so much dreck out there, but my goodness, if you can get beyond the yuck-inducing Jackass stunts or cat and dog videos there’s a ton of good stuff if you just know where to look.