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Nebraska Offers Digital Skills Training Platform to Seniors

The Nebraska State Unit on Aging has partnered with, a virtual learning platform, to bolster digital skills and a wide range of other life skills among older adults across the state.

The Nebraska State Unit on Aging, through a partnership with, has launched a digital learning platform to help seniors in the state gain skills — both digital and real-world.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, digital inclusion efforts for seniors have evolved to combat social isolation, and to make it easier for seniors to access telehealth and other digital services, as seen in places like South Carolina and Virginia.

The effort in Nebraska was spurred by increased isolation during the pandemic among older adults who lacked technical literacy, according to the State Unit on Aging’s administrator, Cynthia Brammeier. With few educational platforms of this kind available to Nebraska residents as more services go online, she described this as a “booming opportunity.”

The contract with GetSetUp was signed last month, and the kickoff of the platform launched shortly after, Brammeier said. The state used $50,000 to purchase 20,000 class sessions for older adults. The classes vary in content, from technology skills — with a focus on Zoom at various levels — to fitness.
The GetSetUp platform is displayed with featured classes including New Member Orientation, iPad Basics and Get Started with Zoom for Beginners.
User view of the platform.
Courtesy of GetSetUp.
GetSetUp Communication Manager Liz Miller explained that the courses, while not necessarily related to age, are senior-focused in the way they are designed and taught. For example, the health and wellness classes are focused on topics that affect older adults, and app-related classes focus on financial and banking apps.

In addition, the instructors are over 50 years old, which creates a community of peers for sharing information.

“You’re not trying to learn something from a really young person who’s not going to speak the same slang language that you might use if you were 75, so it’s a little more relatable,” Brammeier said.

The classes are live and interactive, Miller explained, allowing for people to ask questions and communicate with instructors in a participatory learning environment. Each class also has a designated assistant for additional tech support so the classes have fewer interruptions.

One of the initial barriers for individuals accessing these courses is the inability to download and use Zoom. To combat this problem, the company built a custom platform called “The Lounge,” which allows users to view and listen to the live classes from their browser without having to download Zoom or update software. Those who use this method of participating will not have cameras on, but they are still able to respond to questions or send emojis in a chat.

“We tend to find that a lot of our learners, depending on the class, like to participate in different ways,” Miller said. “Some of them like to kind of be backstage here and watching.”

As Miller explained, there is a range of data that the company can provide about the platform’s usage, including a Google Analytics map of where people are located that are using the platform, and the number of learners using the platform. Data, like names and emails of users, is kept private.

The company has eight statewide partnerships with the recent addition of Nebraska, Miller said.

However, the partnerships’ approaches vary by state. In New York, there was a special series for veterans to help them access benefits. In Michigan, there were customized classes to help navigate the state’s webpages, as well as to help navigate the vaccine rollout process.

Brammeier said that for the state of Nebraska, the partnership is a way to make the platform available statewide and to test and assess the interest level.

Potentially, she said another agency serving older Nebraskans may take over the program in the long term, as the State Unit on Aging is the “pass through agency” for federal and state funds for area agencies on aging, which can then fund and support programs in their service areas.

And while Brammeier acknowledged that there is a digital divide in the state of Nebraska — with gaps specifically in the western side of the state beyond urban areas and in parts of the panhandle — the state Legislature is working to expand connectivity statewide.
Julia Edinger is a staff writer for Government Technology. She has a bachelor's degree in English from the University of Toledo and has since worked in publishing and media. She's currently located in Southern California.