A barn that has stood for more than a hundred years may not seem like the location for modern learning, but at the Smithtown Historical Society, the Frank Brush Barn is just that.
Every other Friday the historical society is offering free workshops called Technology Savvy Seniors. Executive Director Priya Kapoor said the classes are a way to help elder residents, especially during the pandemic as many are turning to Zoom to talk to loved ones or even take a gym class. Others are finding entertainment options through streaming services such as Netflix.
“This is a way to be able to give back to the community and tell them we appreciate their support, and if we can have this for you and help you in any way that would be great,” she said.
Kapoor said with the seniors attending the classes together they don’t need to be hesitant if they feel they have a lot to learn. The executive director said the barn provides plenty of space to practice socially distanced learning.
The instructor is her son, Rohan Kapoor, who works as a tech consultant. He said when he was a teenager he worked in Staples and was responsible for the mobile department selling phones. When customers didn’t know how to use smartphones, he offered to show them. He said he noticed once people became more familiar with those types of phones, they were more apt to buy them..
The 25-year-old said at the end of every class he asks participants what they want to learn during the next session. While the first class focused on the basics of operating smartphones, the next class July 24 will be about how to use Amazon Prime and Netflix.
“I can go in and teach cryptocurrency but they may not be into it,” he said.
During another workshop, the attendees learned how to use Zoom and spread out into different areas of the historical society and took turns starting meetings, joining one and using other functions of the virtual meeting platform.
Kapoor said he also covers cybersecurity with members from password management to online banking and identity theft. He advises people not to use Social Security numbers or family members’ birthdays as passwords. He said while participants are open to the advice, some say they aren’t comfortable using some of the applications.
“What your comfort level is, I’m not going to tell you; but I’ll tell you about what the technology is,” he said. “I’ll tell you what Apple Pay does, but it’s up to you if you want to use it.”
St. James resident Joan Harris has been a regular at the classes. She said she appreciated the first workshop for smartphones because when she would go to turn on her iPhone, she would enter the six-digit unlock code but wasn’t sure how to use the fingerprint option until taking the class.
“That was a big thing for me,” Harris said. “I was just entering the six digits.”
While she said she already uses Zoom, she is looking forward to getting advice about Netflix after her grandson gave her and her husband, Brad, a BluRay.
“I have no clue how to set it up,” Harris said.
She said it’s nice being in a class with those on the same level, and the small size allows for more personal attention not only from Kapoor but Victoria Del Vento, who helps him out. She said any bit of information she picks up is helpful.
“We didn’t grow up with this,” she said. “Kids now — they know everything.”
For more information on Tech Savvy Seniors, visit www.smithtownhistorical.org.