BIG BAY – The Thunder Bay Inn offers a unique opportunity for seniors in Big Bay and Marquette County.
Seniors can use Thunder Bay Inn’s Senior Information Technology Training Cafe to learn about computer basics, internet safety, human interaction and everyday use. The facility is open Wednesday through Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m
The idea of an internet cafe was born last October when ten seniors, four faculty from Northern Michigan University and a cafe host from the American Association of Retired Persons attended the first opening, where students from NMU’s School of Business taught seniors.
Thunder Bay Inn received a $49,000 grant from Marquette County’s American Rescue Plan for the project.
Mark Bevins, Co-Innkeeper at Thunder Bay Inn, said that the NMU students’ interaction, enthusiasm and knowledge base in working with the older students exceeded expectations.
Training data collected from feedback cards, self-assessment forms, and teacher inputs were used for development. According to the summary report of the training café, the feedback from the NMU trainers confirmed the standardized training method, which also extends to the subsequent training phase of the trainers.
“We didn’t intentionally engineer this exchange where good young, smart adults can share their information and convey to the elders what comes naturally to them, and you create that natural respect for your elders throughout the response and interaction,” Bevins said .
Bevins said what he likes best about the café is that it can provide an environment for seniors to learn more about the Internet.
“I emphasize the word training because it’s not about a collection of courses or the curriculum where you get a certificate after 45 credits, but because it’s functional,” Bevins said.
He gave examples of someone learning to use Google storage, use Zoom, or make an online doctor’s appointment with a grandchild in South Carolina.
“They (seniors) can get specific one-on-one training and that’s gratifying from a goodwill perspective,” Bevins said.
The café also offers two training sessions for seniors to join a larger group. In the first session, seniors can learn computer basics, device security and the correct use of devices and the Internet.
The upcoming sessions will focus on email, internet safety, the internet as a whole, connecting with people and everyday use, with most sessions being one-to-one sessions with a trainer.
For more information about the Internet Cafe, call 906-345-9220 or email [email protected].
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