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A Better Way to Learn Technology Skills

An AI-generated image of a adult woman and older woman looking together at a tablet computer while laughing
Midjourney prompt: an adult woman helping a senior citizen woman learn how to use an ipad

OnRamp Academy exists to provide the best technology training experience to as many people as possible.

And it’s the professional and personal experience of our founders that’s forged our convictions as to the specific methods that we’ve found to impart technology skills most effectively.

I was a professional technology trainer for Apple in the early ‘10s. But more interestingly, my cofounder, Dr. Matthew Weed Ph.D, learned to use a Macintosh in his teens (despite being completely blind) thanks to the patient instruction of his good friend. We’ll write more about that in a future post – it’s fascinating!

Together we’ve refined a teaching formula that we believe is a better way to learn technology skills. For any motivated learner, of any age group, who wants to learn, the following tenets will consistently produce superior results.

The OnRamp Academy formula for teaching technology

  1. Individual Attention Learning technology skills requires quiet, focused one-on-one spaces. Training sessions that offer the best outcomes consist of one learner and one tutor.

  2. Learner-Driven Sessions This means two things. First, the topic being taught is always based on the learner’s personal goals or needs, and might change at a moment’s notice. If learning is not personal it’s not meaningful and it won’t stick. Second, the pace of learning must be dictated by the learner’s ability and aptitude. And the tutor needs to be able to dial the pace up or down as needed. Some learners may move quite quickly. But often, when foundational concepts are brand new, the pace needs to be very. very. slow and incremental.

  3. Continuity of Learning For learning to be rewarding it must work progressively toward the achievement of personal goals or mastery. That means that each training session must build on the previous session. And it’s up to the tutor (or tutor team) to create this continuity for the learner. No matter if it’s swift or slow, learning must be a journey. And continuity of learning is how that’s achieved.

  4. Tactile Learning The absolute best way for technology skills to be developed is through tactile learning. That means the learner must always be the one, hands-on, interacting with their device. Watching someone demonstrate something – like in group workshops – and expecting the experience will translate into skill is a false hope. Hands-on instruction is fundamental.

For many learners there’s one more component that means more to our approach than any other: Human Interaction.

Human-to-human connection and communication is what we all need even more than technology skills. This is true for anyone, but especially older learners. And one-on-one tutoring is an ideal place to create connection for them. At OnRamp Academy connection and interaction is never forsaken toward the pursuit of perceived objectives. Humanity first, technology second, always.

Despite our deep conviction for these learning tenets we also believe that there are solutions not yet discovered. The magnitude of the problem digital illiteracy presents is immense. And solutions that can be deployed on-scale are still emerging. Those conditions motivate us to adopt a first principles approach so as to not preclude the development of solution designs currently unknown. That is why OnRamp Academy is founded as a research-based enterprise.

More on that, and on how we demonstrate these learning principles in a future post.


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