TAP1 participants learning from Peer Tutors

TAP is a technology training program that was first introduced in 2008 in a research study format to Otsego County older adults (age 60 and older). The project was backed by the Otsego County Commission on Aging, in partnership with the MSU School of Social Work, MSU Extension, and the University Center at Gaylord.


The purpose of the study was to determine if providing technology training to older adults increased their use of technology and whether or not this training impacted other areas of their lives. After recruiting study participants through a county-wide survey, two groups of interested older adults were divided into two groups: an experimental group and a control group. Both groups were required to complete surveys at the beginning and end of the training, as well as at three and six months into their training. The experimental group was given six months of computer training from November 2008 through April 2009. This phase of the study was known as TAP1.

TAP1 participants learned to make their own greeting cards.

TAP1 Program Goals

TAP1 had three goals for its participants:
1. Increase their comfort with technology (computers)
2. Increase their awareness of Internet safety and security issues
3. Provide tools that will help them connect with family and friends, no matter where they live

TAP1 Program Topics

TAP covered the following topics in classes that were conducted once a week for approximately six weeks. Classes lasted two hours and were conducted at the University Center at Gaylord.

  • Basics of using a computer
  • Mouse and keyboard skills
  • Basic web browsing
  • E-Mail
  • Typing and storing data
  • Internet safety and security
  • Evaluating info on the Web
  • Voice and video communications via the Internet
  • Favorite internet sites
  • Reliable online health info
  • Genealogy resources
  • Enhancing and sharing photos
  • Downloading music and books
  • Making greeting cards
  • Multi-person games and discussion groups
  • Family websites and personal blogs
  • Online shopping
  • Spreadsheet software
TAP1 participant learning about Internet safety.

Preliminary TAP1 Results

After three months of training, participants reported the following:

  • They felt they had greater social support
  • They felt more comfortable with computers and technology
  • They reported increased use of information and communication technologies, such as e-mail, instant messaging, etc.

TAP1 Participant Testimonies

Here’s what TAP1 participants had to say about the program:

“I’m now using e-mail to stay in touch with relatives, and I expect to use it even more in the future.”
~ TAP1 Participant after three months of training

“I learned about Care Pages in one of our classes and set up an account to keep family members updated about Dad’s health.”
~ TAP1 Participant

“I’ve shared all kinds of things. I sent genealogy information to my 80-year old aunt, and she provided me with information she has!”
~ TAP1 Participant


In November 2009, the control group was given the opportunity to receive similar training from their peers who had completed TAP1. This phase of the study was known as TAP2. Training for this group concluded in April 2010. The program was so popular that participants requested additional training. To accommodate the need for additional technology training, the Computer Club (Later renamed the “Exploring the World of Technology Group”) was started.

“Anyone who stops learning is old, whether twenty or eighty.
Anyone who keeps learning stays young.
The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young.”
~ Henry Ford