Tech-savvy seniors

Soon-to-be 82-year-old Biron Bustin is learning all about his new tablet, and the access to information it’s provided him with. Andru McCracken helps another student, Melody Grant, in the background. / EVAN MATTHEWS

by EVAN MATTHEWS

“This is a tablet, not a computer. I’ve been learning how to use it,” says soon-to-be 82-year-old Byron Bustin, adding he’s just learned how to use the camera function on his device.

“I learned also I can speak into it and it’ll speak back to you. I think that’s fantastic; it’s very neat,” he says.

Bustin is taking part in workshops at the Valemount Learning Centre on Monday and Wednesday evenings.

After reading an advertisement in the newspapers, Bustin says he figured Andru McCracken would able to give him some kind of idea about technology and its many functions.

“I’ve been a total ignoramus on computers,” says Bustin, smiling and chuckling.

“I’m brand new to it. Brand new,” he says.

The class doesn’t have any set curriculum, but rather it focuses on helping students learn the things they want to learn, and the things most applicable to their lives, according to tech-teacher, Andru McCracken.

Everyone uses their computer or mobile devices for different things, McCracken says, so a big part of Bustin’s time in the workshop has been spent optimizing his tablet for the things he uses it for.

“When Byron first heard we were doing this, he had just gotten his tablet from family,” says McCracken.

“There were a bunch of games and things like that on there, and Byron wasn’t having any of that,” he says.

But immediately following the removal of all the games, Bustin “took the Internet by storm,” according to McCracken, saying he spent the evening reading and watching videos about a World War Two aircraft.

“This is a tablet, not a computer. I’ve been learning how to use it,”— soon-to-be 82-year-old Byron Bustin

More recently, Bustin says he’s spent time investigating the differences between two fish species: the Dolly Varden versus the very similar Bull Trout. Someone recently told him a Dolly Varden was a Bull Trout, and he says he was able to clarify the information for himself.

“I’m learning how to get answers to common and ordinary questions,” says Bustin. “This is the kind of stuff I’m learning on the computer that I enjoy immensely.”

The next topic on Bustin’s to-research list is “Loch Lomond,” he says.

Because he comes from a Scottish background, Bustin is investigating a song with Scottish origins tracing back to the 1700s. After asking his tablet about Loch Lomond, he says it spat out a bunch of different reasons as to why the song was written.

And providing enlightenment is the name of the game, according to the teacher.

“We’re solving a lot of problems that were really vexing people,” says McCracken, noting the fun he gets out of helping shed some light.

“There’s lots of learning left to do,” he says.

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