Connection went digital this past summer. The Village at Penn State introduced Connected Living, a platform that connects The Village residents with news bulletins, the day’s dining menus, activities, and each another. The need to modernize communication methods became apparent after traditional methods of communication, such as the in-house TV and printed memos, broke or became lost.

“The reason we introduced Connected Living is because we were looking for something to help residents connect for engagement purposes,” says Ellen Corbin, executive director at The Village at Penn State. “We wanted to get information out to residents in a timely manner, keep them involved and up-to-date with everything happening at The Village.”

Residents access the Connected Living platform on their iPad, iPhone, Android, or desktop computer. The platform provides the information they need, such as news bulletins, menus, the activities schedule, the resident handbook, resident biographies, and the resident directory. Residents particularly love the biographies—and easy access to the dining menus.

Updates that once took weeks take seconds. Any change made to the handbook, news bulletin, and schedule updates immediately, in real time, within the platform. “You’ll have to see it to believe it,” Ellen said. “Everything is right at their fingertips.”

For residents who had never used a computer or struggled to adapt to the technology, Ellen created a group of seven Resident Champions that helped roll Connected Living out to the community. The Resident Champions travel around The Village helping their fellow residents learn the system and resolve issues. Residents have remained positive and eager to learn.

“A gentleman I met with, who’s in his 90s, told me, ‘Paul, I will master this machine,” says one of the Resident Champions, Paul. “He was absolutely committed to figuring out how to use this thing. And I sat there and said, ‘Wow! Go for it!’” Paul adds.

“The people who are really the champions are the residents that had to wrestle with the technology,” Paul, continues. “For all of us who had had some kind of technical background or were instructors or teachers or faculty, this was pretty easy. But for the ones who had never touched a computer in their life, it was a real effort to get them on board. They really did a good job,” Paul affirms.

Working and learning together has nurtured the community’s spirit of determination and togetherness. “You see little groups working together to help one another because some might understand the system better,” Ellen says. “It definitely creates a better sense of community here.”

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