An Innovative Gerontechnology Program:
A Distinctive Intergenerational Computing Approach


  Pictured left is the founding Gerontech Research Team (from top left to right: Barbara    Thomas (Westchester Community College), Dozene Guishard (Westchester Department of Senior Programs and Services (DSPS)), Janna Heyman (Fordham University), Colette Phipps (DSPS), Jean Coppola (Pace University), Linda Forman (United Hebrew))

  In 2005, several NY agencies (Pace University, Westchester Community College (WCC), United Hebrew (UH), Westchester County Department of Senior Programs and Services (DSPS), and Westchester Public / Private Partnership for Aging Services) joined together, through the Westchester Alliance of Academic Institutions for Aging Related Studies and Workforce Development, to plan a timely and innovative multi-faceted gerontechnology research program.

  Undergraduate students enrolled in an intergenerational service-learning computing course were specially trained to provide technology instruction to older adults living in independent living, assisted living, and nursing home facilities at (UH). Older adult curriculum included basic computing skills encompassing, psycho-motor skills, assistive software, and brain-games.

  This gerontechnology program encompasses a unique offering through an innovative multi-disciplinary course with a service-learning component. Undergraduate students learn about both the process of aging, as well as, computing technology while the older adults benefit from an individualized and non-threatening learning environment. The project goes beyond simply having students volunteer to help the elderly. The students receive theory and training specifically for teaching technology to the elderly.

  Program objectives include improving the quality of life emotionally, cognitively, and socially of the older adult participants. The older adult participants at (UH) gained a greater sense of well-being and self-worth, a more positive outlook on life, increased cognitive functioning, decreased levels of depression, and reduced social isolation which reinforces findings of past research in the literature.


Research Team

Jean F. Coppola, BS, MS, MS, PhD

Associate Professor, Information Technology
Seidenberg School of Computer Science and Information Systems
Pace University, 861 Bedford Road, Goldstein 322, Pleasantville, NY 10570
Phone: (914) 773-3755 Email:

Curriculum Vitae

   Jean F. Coppola Holds a BS in CS, MS in Telecom, MS in CS, and PhD in Computing Technology in Education with 19+ yrs experience in Academic Computing/Information Technology. Dr. Coppola has 80+ presentations in service-learning, intergenerational computing, smart e-classrooms, gerontechnology, & critical thinking while publishing 30+ articles. She has also advised student teams winning the NY Campus Compact Carter Academic Service Entrepreneur in recognition of service-learning excellence. Current research focuses on service-learning/civic engagement and gerontechnology. Since 2005, has worked with a research team studying the effect of technology on older adult life quality, attitudes towards aging, cognitive functioning, and student attitude change towards elderly via a service-learning intergenerational computing program where outcomes have led to awards including: American Society of Aging MetLife MindAlert Award for Mental Fitness Program; Isabel Brabazon Award for Evaluation and Research in Intergenerational Programs; Women: Builders of Communities and Dreams; and Jefferson Award for Public Service.


Lin J. Drury, PhD, RN Associate Professor, Community Health Nursing

Lienhard School of Nursing

Co-Chair Institutional Review Board
Pace University, 41 Park Row, New York, NY 10038
Phone: (914) 953-5770 Email:

Lin Drury, PhD, RN is an associate professor of community health nursing with more than thirty years of classroom and clinical teaching experience focused on vulnerable populations and older adults in underserved areas.


Sharon Stahl Wexler, PhD, RN, BCAssistant Professor, Nursing

Lienhard School of Nursing
Pace University, 41 Park Row, New York, NY 10038
Phone: (212) 346-1461 Email:

Sharon Stahl Wexler, PhD, RN, BC is Assistant Professor of Nursing at Lienhard School of Nursing, Pace University, New York, NY, teaching in the undergraduate program. Dr. Wexler has a BS in Nursing from Simmons College, Boston, MA, an MA in Nursing and a PhD in Nursing Research and Theory Development from New York University College of Nursing. Dr. Wexler is a certified Gerontological Clinical Nurse Specialist. Dr. Wexler’s area of research is acute care of older adults and specifically the maintenance of functional status in older adults.


Barbara A. Thomas, RN, MA, MS, FNPAssistant Professor, Nursing

Westchester Community College, 75 Grasslands Road, Valhalla, NY 10595
Phone: (914) 606-6600 Email:

Barbara A. Thomas is an Assistant Professor in the Nursing Department at Westchester Community College, Valhalla, New York. Barbara Thomas holds an RN, a M.A. in Nursing, M.S. in Nursing, and a Family Nurse Practitioner Advanced Degree with over 30 years of teaching nursing in Graduate, Baccalaureate and Associate Degree programs. Professor Thomas has over 30 publications in the areas of smart e-classrooms, critical thinking, hand-held computers, and nursing informatics. Currently, she is focusing on gerontechnology research with the elderly population using technology. The Gerotechnology Consortium of Westchester recently won the national Mind Alert Award for their current research.


Janna C. Heyman, PhDAssociate Professor

Graduate School of Social Science
Fordham University, 400 Westchester Avenue, Harrison, NY 10604
Phone: (718) 817-5633 Email:

Janna Heyman, Ph.D., is Associate Director at the Ravazzin Center on Aging and Associate Professor at the Fordham University Graduate School of Social Service. Dr. Heyman received both her Ph.D. and M.S.W. from Fordham University and has been teaching at Fordham since 1986. Prior to coming to Fordham University she worked at the United Way of Westchester and the Hudson Valley Health Systems Agency (HVHSA). At Fordham University, Dr. Heyman teaches social work research, advanced research design, advanced research analysis, and social policy. In her work at the Fordham Ravazzin Center on Aging she has been involved in numerous program evaluation studies. She is also working with the Westchester Alliance of Academic Institutions on a number of projects throughout Westchester County to expand educational information to undergraduate colleges and universities


Colette Phipps, LMSW Research Analyst

Westchester County Department of Senior Programs and Services
9 South 1st Avenue, 10th Floor, Mount Vernon, NY 10550
Phone: (914) 813-6441 Fax: (914) 813-6399 Email:

Colette Phipps’ human services background spans approximately 25 years. She presently serves as a Research Analyst for the Westchester County Department of Senior Programs and Services. In her current position she analyses, interprets and evaluates data and information for program and service delivery as well as policies and legislation related to such programs.

She is also the Deputy Executive Director of the Westchester County Livable Communities: A vision for All Ages Initiative, a multi-year project aimed at increasing livability in the county and a Co-coordinator of the New York Southern Region Aging Network, a consortium of agencies based in the southern most region of the state focused on advocacy, capacity/skill building and workforce development.

She is executive director of the Westchester Alliance of Academic Institutions for Aging Related Studies and Workforce Development. She is also co-coordinator of the Westchester County Millennium Aging Project, a countywide needs assessment program and Deputy Executive Director of the Westchester County Pre-White House Conference on Aging Mini Series, an award winning project designed to prepare for the 2005 White House Conference on Aging. She was selected to serve as a volunteer for the 2005 White House Conference.

Previously, Ms. Phipps was a program officer for the Westchester Community Foundation, and has coordinated programs and provided technical assistance for several neighborhood revitalization programs in Los Angeles, California. She earned her masters in Social Work from New York University and is also a certified Intergenerational Program Specialist and Focus Group Leader. She has led focus groups in both national and international settings. Additionally, Ms. Phipps has co-authored several articles on aging and serve as an adjunct professor at Brookdale Center for Healthy Aging and Longevity at Hunter College and Iona College.

Ms. Phipps serves on the board of the Visiting Nurse Services in Westchester and the Sarah Lawrence College Health Advocacy Program. She is part of a National Intergenerational Program training team and is presently a Co-Conference Chair of the 2009 Generations United International Conference. Ms. Phipps serves on several committees working towards enhancing the live of older persons.


T.J. McCallum, Ph.D.Associate Professor of Psychology

Case Western Reserve University
Cleveland, OH 44106-7123
Phone:(216)368-6470 Email:

Dr. McCallum is an Associate Professor in the department of Psychological Sciences at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio ( He is a member of the clinical area and the adult clinical track. Dr. McCallum is also a faculty associate with the University Center for Aging and Health. He received his Ph.D. in clinical psychology with a specialization in aging from the University of Southern California in 2002.

His research interests include cultural aspects of dementia caregiving, psychological and physiological stress response in older adults, and aging and technology. Dr. McCallum opened the Brain Emporium (, a computer lab designed to engage older adults in brain fitness, in 2009. The Brain Emporium is both a community resource for older adults and a research lab studying multiple aspects of gerontechnology.



Gene Loeb, Ph.D.

Skype Id/ gene.loeb1

Dr. Loeb is a geriatrics professional focusing on utilization and availability of communications and information technology to enable the well-being and independence of older persons from a community Informatics perspective. A course developer and presenter, he is the Director and Founder of the Center for Technology and Mental Health of elderly, which examines Information and communications technology as it enriches and contributes to well being of communities of elderly. He brings together researchers and teachers with complementary abilities to research and promote new ideas in elderly issues. Presently, his team and he are engaged in discovering ways to use internet technology, and tablets to assist older persons with memory problems improve abilites and imporve mentaol health. has investigated technology use by elderly for four years. Projects include increasing the accessibility of technology to elderly, reviewing progress and new applications in technology, by the following activities:

  1. Editor of special issue of The Journal of community informatics on information and communications technology on elderly.
  2. Member, Editorial Board, Community Informatics Journal
  3. Member and contributor to Gerontechnology, international organization of technology and elderly
  4. Contributor AGETEK Association, trade group of Technology products for elderly
  5. Participant in the “digital inclusion organization” concerned with including populations left out of the digital world.
  6. Established the Center for technology and Mental Health of Older Persons
  7. Member, International society of Internet Researchers
  8. Member International Scientific Committee of the International Society for Gerontology
  9. Member of planning committee Chicago Roundtable, affiliate of the American society on aging
  10. Member of Elderly Care Advocacy committeeMember of human services advocacy committee.

Presentations and Professional Activities

Presenter and panel coordinator, three presentations, American Society on aging Yearly conference, March 13, 2013.February, 2012.
Presenter, Illinois Governors conference on aging, December, 2012.
Presenter, International conference on Learning, IT4ALL, February 3-5, 2013.
Presenter, International Conference on Learning, IT4ALL, February, 2012
American Society on aging, March 28-April 1, 2012, two presentations, Technology and Elderly
Webinar Series, technology, Future Research, and Aging, December 10, 2011
Committee of developers of Open Source class materials, Educational Psychology college courses, College Open Source Textbook Consortium, presently.
International Technology Conference, European Union, Hague, Netherlands.
EChicago Technology Accessibility Conference, University of Illinois, Chicago, presenter, planning committee, spring, 2012.
Organizer, Conference on Technology, Social Media and Accessibilty of Internet resources, Fall, 2012, University of Illinois.

He has counseled, consulted, and studied changing trends in development, psychology, and care of aging populations. He is on the planning committee of the American Society for Aging’s Chicago Roundtable, bimonthly meetings of geriatric professionals at Rush University, Chicago, Illinois.
He was the chair of the marketing and outreach planning committee for the American Society on Aging March, 2010 National Conference and made three presentations at the 2011 conference.

He is editor of several journal issues, and reviewer for numeroous professional journals.a reviewer for several publications, The Journal of community Informatics, Journal of Informing Sciences, and Merlot online learning software organization. He is a developer of online courses, and authored several articles
A retired professor of Education, he is married and has three sons and seven grandchildren. He is also active in open source education as a member of the Community College Consortium for Open Education Resources