It’s late morning and roughly 25 senior citizens are learning how to talk to Siri. They pick up their iPads and press the home button, and pings echo around the room as Siri asks what she can do to help.
“Siri, what’s the closest coffee shop?” one woman asks.
“Sorry I’m having trouble with the connection, please try again?” Siri says.
A handful of employees with AARP, the national nonprofit focused on Americans age 50 and older, hover behind the participants and jump in to help. They’re in Fort Washington, Maryland, to deliver four free workshops about how to use an iPad. Participants learn how to turn it on, what an app is, how to text, and how to flip the camera to take a selfie, among other activities.
Janae Wheeler, an AARP community manager, has been giving these workshops since 2016, and has perfected her delivery. She suggests people open an app by pressing its icon “as nicely as you would tap a baby’s nose.” During the section on text messaging, she reminds the group not to “write a textbook in your text message” and advises that LOL “used to mean ‘lots of love,’ but doesn’t anymore.”