everHuman featured in BizWest
everHuman empowers elderly with digital skills in new online course
By Jensen Werley — December 14, 2018
FORT COLLINS — A Northern Colorado small business that puts empathy into tech support is expanding its services with an online class.
everHuman is service catered to teaching technology skills — from cybersecurity to Facebook to accessing photos on an iPhone — to the elderly. The company was started by founder Andrea Bazoin, who watched her mother take an early retirement because she was struggling with some of the new technology requirements at her social work job.
In its 2½ years, everHuman has taught individuals, classes and workshops on how to be independent in the digital age. While there are options such as tech support and Geek Squad and classes offered through community colleges and other services, Bazoin said those are often focused on if a device is actually working or on teaching a specific software such as Adobe or Excel.
“What people need is more complicated,” she said. “Boomers need someone to have patience and treat them with respect and dignity. They’re so overburdened with fear and anxiety and embarrassment. They’re at the end of their careers and feel the game has changed.”
everHuman focuses on teaching digital skills, rather than teaching to a specific software. Since its inception, Bazoin has had individual sessions with clients answering any questions they have and also has taught classes and workshops on different subjects.
Now, the small business is looking to expand its reach outside of Fort Collins, with an online curriculum to teach Baby Boomers the skills they need to feel confident in using technology. Bazoin, who had a career in higher education prior to launching her business, developed an online course — called Triumph over Technology — that over six weeks could help Boomers feel more comfortable using technology.
“I’m teaching strategy over specifics,” she said. “When you take a driver’s ed class, you don’t learn how to drive a Ford F150. You learn how to drive any basic car and the strategy behind it. I’m trying to stay as useful but as non-technical as possible. We drill down to common mistakes, like the difference between a post and a message. I teach the concept of what is the point behind all of this.”
The first module guides users through what to expect and how to take an online course. In the event they’ve never done a class online before, it prepares them and assesses their technology abilities so far. The second module is all about keeping in touch: how to use a smartphone, how to use social media, how to chat online. The third covers digital records, such as how to manage digital photos and music files. The fourth is about keeping safe, including how to protect passwords and prevent identity theft. And the fifth and final module covers digital estate planning, including keeping what matters in the digital age and preparing what happens with a person’s digital footprint after they die.
The course, which begins Jan. 14, is an interactive program where clients can watch videos recorded by Bazoin in partnership with Loveland-based Shadow Play Films. Users in the cohort can communicate with peers, communicate with Bazoin and receive lifetime access to transcripts, videos, worksheets and all other material once the class is over.
Registration for the six-week course, which is $269, opens on Friday.
“When I looked at university and community college courses, all of those were for a particular program and didn’t give an overview of how to thrive in the digital age,” Bazoin said. “No one is covering that. Meanwhile, there is a flood of information, and it is hard to know what is right. Clients are paying for the fact that I’ve developed a curriculum that is comprehensive and distilled. And this course is priced below all the other options I’ve seen, except the ones that are free.”
While clients might ask their children or grandchildren for help, that often ends up being a solution that isn’t good for anyone. Bazoin said family members are more likely to get frustrated with each other and often don’t have the patience to teach strategies and skills. Instead, they just do it for the client without actually teaching them.
Bazoin said in her work she sees common mistakes to which people who aren’t technology-native often fall victim. She’s made it customary in all of her client consultations to check the privacy settings on their Facebook accounts, which often is much more open than they realize. She’s also helping them detect what might be fake news or spam on social media. She helps clients learn how to detect phishing in their emails — not just deleting any emails that might be phishing schemes but teaching them what to look for so they don’t have to be afraid of every email with a link.
“I try to loosen the grip of fear,” she said. “I think to remind them that they have successful careers and lives, they’ve learned things before and this is just something new. What you don’t want is someone rolling their eyes and saying ‘no, that’s how you do it.’ I’m allowing them the space — with dignity, respect, encouragement, motivation and empowerment — to do it on their own.”
Bringing her services online is part of Bazoin’s plans to scale up the company. She said she has plans to teach the course online again throughout the year and hopes to bring on additional employees to help with the in-person tutoring and classes. Bazoin said she envisions bringing on young people, who could have a well-paid job with a flexible schedule who are using skills that can help them in later careers. But not just anyone can do the job, Bazoin said.
“The first quality I’m looking for is empathy.”