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Get Tech-Savvy at Life@50

AARP TEK Pavilion in Atlanta to offer free technology training

Technology gallops forward so fast these days that people of all ages struggle to keep up. For those 50 and over, AARP stands ready to help: At the Life@50+ Expo in Atlanta, the organization will unveil the AARP TEK Pavilion, offering free, hands-on training for all sorts of devices and gadgets. "TEK" stands for "Technology, Education and Knowledge."

Touchscreen Tech (John Lamb/Getty Images)

John Lamb/Getty Images

AARP is the go-to resource for older people eager to harness the latest technology.

"Members at recent Life@50+ events expressed a desire for tech training," says AARP's chief information officer, Terry Bradwell. "Technology can provide many avenues for people to pursue interests, connect with friends and family, explore career options or just have fun. And the AARP TEK Pavilion will help people learn how to use technology, linking them to a whole new world of possibilities."

The pavilion is one more way AARP is positioning itself as the go-to resource for older people eager to harness the latest technology. Since 2010, the organization's book division has brought out seven new titles on seniors and technology. AARP also recently launched "Takei's Take," a YouTube series hosted by 76-year-old George Takei, who played Lt. Hikaru Sulu on the original Star Trek series. His new mission: to boldly cut through confusing jargon and industry lingo, giving older people clear, trustworthy guidance on how to use technology to their best advantage.

The AARP TEK Pavilion will be located in the Exhibit Hall at Atlanta's World Congress Event Center. Each hour the hall is open during the Expo, one of the following free workshops will be offered:

  • Introduction to Tablets and Apps
  • Tablet Discovery: Connect (email, text messaging, video conferencing/chatting, etc.)
  • Tablet Discovery: On the Go (weather, maps, etc.)
  • Tablet Discovery: News, Books and Music (news and current events, e-books, streaming music, etc.)

In addition to AARP TEK Advisors, local high school and college students will be on hand to answer questions. Dubbed "Tech Wizards," the young adults are participating thanks to a partnership between the 4-H Clubs of America and the AARP Foundation's Mentor Up program. This unique "reverse mentoring" initiative is designed to get knowledge flowing from younger to older generations — and vice versa.

Members of AARP's social media group will also be working in the pavilion, training visitors in online tools such as Facebook and Twitter. The pavilion's Topics Theatre will showcase experts giving advice on new and emerging technologies, with an emphasis on tools and apps that can help older people improve their health and lifestyle.

Not a tablet owner yet? Attendees who purchase the Life@50+ Digital Experience ticket — the price includes a new iPad mini — can get instant personal training on their new device.

With a recent Google/Ipsos MediaCT study showing that 1 in 4 seniors expect to purchase a smartphone or tablet within a year, the free TEK workshops come at an opportune time: The learning curve on new technology can seem steep, making it easy to feel left behind.

No need for that, says Bradwell. He recalls an attendee at a recent event thanking him for "not making me feel stupid" after Bradwell answered her technology query. That's the goal of the AARP TEK Pavilion in a clamshell: to empower people who are new to technology, and to enhance the experience for those already using it.