Updated: Jan 30
What is GetSetUp?
GetSetUp is a social learning platform for older adults who want to learn a new skill, make friends, work on personal development, improve their fitness levels, and so much more. It welcomes learners into live, interactive classes, with Guides of their peers, who offer endless inspiration and wisdom, as well as expertise in their field.
The current industry landscape
The older population is growing exponentially, becoming a bigger and bigger section of society, and it’s essential companies keep up with their needs. More older people are on social media than ever before, but they’ve mixed feelings about it. They’re hesitant not to let it take over their lives and tend to use it for its fundamental components of keeping in touch with family and friends. However, this generation is much more tech-savvy than they’re given credit for. They’re a curious bunch who want to develop themselves, continue with lifelong learning, and socialize as much as the next person. But the online opportunities for that are limited. For example, Tiktok, Youtube, and Twitch are filled with content by (and for) younger people, it can be perceived as an exclusive club.
This platform provides a space for users to start living their best life online, doing things they never thought they could. GetSetUp launched its first class at the start of 2020 with a mission to build an online community and learning space for people in later life. There was a gap in the marketplace. No one offered a platform for people who weren’t modern ‘digital natives’ to get together, confidently, comfortably, and safely to interact and learn subjects relevant to them.
Creating the company
Two of the founders, Neil Dsouza and Lawrence Kosick, met as long-distance runners and bonded over their life experiences of being surrounded by older people. They talked about how their parents, who although digitally literate, didn’t feel there was a welcoming space for them. Knowing that a lack of real connection and isolation can have life-threatening consequences, they could see a need to build a virtual space that would help reduce loneliness and be a destination for lifelong learning. This platform would offer education and community in a safe, peer-to-peer environment allowing older adults to increase their technological abilities, get fitter, learn new skills, and make friends.
How GetSetUp works
GetSetUp needs no other software downloads to function, meaning accessibility is high. They have done extensive user testing to ensure functionality, visuals, and non-text content are available to the most diverse users. In considering reduced dexterity or vision, large buttons and icons improve user experience. It’s an intuitive platform with users' needs as the main driving force. The empathy and cadence of the peer-to-peer instruction model supports learners through a shared vocabulary and life experiences.
The Guide (teacher) can share relatable examples and references to build a strong connection with the learner. The Guide’s responsibilities are curriculum and preparation, but most importantly, the class style and adaptability of lesson plans. Through the interactive nature of the classes, user needs are always listened to and answered. Users are encouraged to get involved, really participate and make mistakes. So much more than more traditional vicarious learning; this allows people to learn the subject and consequently take on fundamental behavior changes.
GetSetUp offers a wide range of subjects beginning with device and technology support, health, and wellness; including exercises at home, eating, and cooking more healthily. Then subjects like personal enrichment, tech to keep in touch with family, or skills for working and there are a lot of social groups. Classes are taught in four different languages, and expansion plans are in place to increase the language selection, for further accessibility within the US and globally. GetSetUp partners with government agencies, local organizations, health plans, and senior living communities to further broadcast the messages of this platform and reach those learners who are most in need of the benefits the organization offers.
The impact made on users’ lives is astonishing. Irene, from Greenville, Michigan, was a teaching assistant before the pandemic, and when she wasn’t allowed in the classroom with her young students anymore, she had to upskill to find a way to stay in touch. She used GetSetUp tech classes to learn more about Zoom, allowing her to connect with her students virtually. Her students were only four and five years old, so it was difficult for them. Irene wanted to help them as much as possible. "I put my dog to work. On Tuesdays, when I met the children via Zoom, if one had a bad day, I would show them Patch. They would ask about the dog and talk about the dog's behavior. It seemed just having something furry and soft often helped them feel a bit better."
Irene sometimes found her volunteering challenging, adjusting to the online requirements and the needs of the children. However, after taking a communication and mindfulness class on GetSetUp she felt much better equipped to handle her role. "In-person, some [children] use very different language than I'm used to. I learned through GetSetUp classes on communication and conflict resolution how to put that on the side. It wasn't an insult to me since they often didn't understand what they were saying. Before those classes, it was harder to do that."
GetSetUp hears life-changing stories like that all the time. People who’ve met online and supported each other are some of the most impactful. Like, Nancy, just this winter, whose building’s heating had turned off and she mentioned it in class. All her new friends rallied around to come up with solutions. Local partnerships were contacted to help assure support for her and it all worked out for Nancy. Her heating was turned back on. During those cold winter days, the support she received from around the world was a special warmth to help her overcome a difficult situation. Vijay suffered a lot of losses last year, but has found his joie de vivre through GetSetUp classes, “The year 2021 made me lonely as many of my friends passed away due to COVID. But the GetSetUp classes, I use to feel happy. Especially the music classes. I had something to look forward to. I have always wanted to follow my passion to write and learn how to. Now because of the GetSetUp’s Journaling challenge, I started and loved it! I wrote 31 stories and loved the classes.”
The organization focuses on the Social Determinants of Health, having a positive impact on lives and the holistic health care needs of older adults today. GetSetUp was born from experiences in tech and education and a desire to help an otherwise unserved audience. The mission hasn’t changed from that, but it has witnessed the adage of supporting health care workers in their roles. Lawrence Kosick said, “Lifelong learning and technology are critical to solving issues that limit older adults’ independence, connectivity, and access to essential resources. A learning-based community that is both virtual and in-person can help make aging more equitable and fun (and less stressful for care workers). Connecting communities through learning and technology offer peace of mind for home care workers and older adults’ family members when they can’t be present.”
Check them out: https://www.getsetup.io/
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