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Helping 50+ Americans Master Personal Technology

AARP social media trainer Jen Lee Reeves is helping people learn to use platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. "I'm meeting a lot of people who already use these tools," says Reeves, "but they want to learn how to use them even more."

At the bustling convention center in downtown Boston, a lot of people seem eager to learn as much as they can about personal technology.

In one area of the cavernous hall, a speaker tells a rapt audience about the various apps that can be used for entertainment, from listening to music and watching TV shows to buying movie tickets and making dinner reservations. In another part of the pavilion, a teacher instructs the crowd seated at long tables about the basics of using a tablet: how to log on, swipe the screen, send email.

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Farther down the aisle, attendees line up for one-on-one training about Twitter, Facebook or any other social-media tool they want to learn.

Overhead, a red banner: "AARP TEK."

These scenes are all part of AARP's twice-yearly Life at 50+ National Event and Expo, running through Saturday in Boston. The association chose the event to officially launch one of its newest initiatives: AARP TEK (for "technology, education and knowledge"), a comprehensive education program tailored to the 50-plus audience.

The pilot program, introduced on a trial basis in 2013, is being rolled out in seven cities this year: Boston, Atlanta, Chicago, Jacksonville, New York, San Antonio and San Diego. The program will expand significantly in 2015.

"AARP TEK offers a high-touch approach to understanding technology," says Terry Bradwell, AARP's chief information officer. "We want to give 50-plus consumers the skills and confidence they need to use technology and stay connected to the people and passion in their lives."

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Though millions of older adults use personal technology already, Bradwell acknowledges, "many more want to learn the ins and outs of smartphones and tablets to discover a world of new possibilities. These are the people we aim to reach with AARP TEK."

For additional information on AARP TEK workshops and online tools, visit

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