The DNAinfo archives brought to you by WNYC.
Read the press release here.

New Chelsea Center Trains Seniors in High-Tech Skills

By Mathew Katz | March 5, 2013 3:23pm

CHELSEA — When Emily Louise Allen started a computer class in the Fashion Institute of Technology, it wasn't long until she was underwater.

"They go so fast, you only do what you can to survive a class," said the 64-year old nurse from Midtown.

The class left her with only a middling knowledge of the technology needed to survive in the modern world. But after six weeks at the Senior Planet Exploration Center in Chelsea, Allen was ready to keep in touch with her friends and family with a new Gmail account.

"They even taught me how to use my phone," said Allen, who is dyslexic. "I like their patience. I like to be able to use it all correctly."

The space at 127 W. 25th St. is the city's first technology center aimed at seniors aged 60 or older, with the goal of training them in everything from email to Skype — even teaching them to play the latest video games or about online dating.

The center is run by Older Adults Technology Services, a nonprofit that's brought computer and technology classes to senior and community centers for nine years. The new space offers a curriculum of free classes that teaches both basic computing and more advanced skills, like using Facebook or sharing digital photography.

"Our target is changing — many seniors know computers now, so it's not just the basics anymore," said Tom Kamber, OATS' executive director.

"You need a place to help you get all this technology."

The center boasts a strong track record, Kamber said. Roughly 93 percent of seniors who come in with no prior knowledge and take the center's 10-week course are still using computers six month later, he said.

The bright, 2,700 square foot storefront space offers banks of computers, a high-tech classroom, an area where seniors can have Skype video chats, and even a "living room" complete with couches, a television and a Nintendo Wii.

"So many people use technology in front of a TV, we wanted to simulate that," he said.

"People can play games here, but we're going to bring in a curated video game series with new and trendy games, so they can go home and play them with their grandkids."

Born Allah, 64-year-old a "tech host" for the center, teaches students how to use iPads.

"Older adults can be fearful of this stuff, they're accustomed to pen and paper — now we have new hardware to get used to," he said.

"With a center like this, it can be less intimidating."