Fox Chapel Area Adult Education adds tech lessons to help eliminate digital clutter

Fox Chapel Area Adult Education has a perfect class this spring for tech novices who accumulate thousands of emails or for people who yearn to shoot better photos with an iPhone.

Private lessons for Apple devices, taught by Plum resident Emily McNeil, are part of the spring offerings that launched last month.

“It’s important because the way that tech changes, I think it’s hard to keep up,” McNeil said.

“Even for younger people, there are always new updates and features that we have to learn to understand, like now we have three lenses on a phone camera. Many of us have this wonderful piece of tech sitting on their table but don’t fully know how to use it.”

Founded in 1962, FCAAE is an outreach program of the Fox Chapel Area School District that provides enrichment classes to adults at a low tuition. One-night and multiweek classes are offered. Participants do not need to be residents of Fox Chapel Area communities.

The program receives facility support from the district but operates solely through student tuition.

Classes start at $20 and include returning favorites such as swimming, photography, gardening and yoga.

The spring semester runs
through mid-May.

Geared toward lifelong learners, the mission is to offer courses that enhance lives, Director Sue Goodwin said.

“We continue to offer a wide variety of opportunities so that we meet people where they are in terms of comfort with learning in-person or online,” Goodwin said. “Classes continue to focus on adding fun and creating a sense of community during these unusual times.”

Private lessons for iPhone, iPad or iMac are being offered by McNeil, as well as one-on-one time behind the camera with photographer Randi Voss.

“Private lessons are a new addition to the program, and the early feedback is that the lessons have exceeded expectations. The first round has gone phenomenally well,” Goodwin said. “Adults can’t believe how much they learn when the session is focused on them and their questions. It’s a really feel-good way for us to reach out and help in a creative new way.”

McNeil said her 90-minute lessons are a great way to clear clutter — both from the device and the student.

“I have noticed that people save everything to their desktop,” she said. “They’re stunned to learn they have years worth of downloads.”

Likewise, a lot of her students don’t delete emails. Over time, they accumulate tens of thousands of the storage-busting memos.

“They’re kind of afraid to delete them, like, ‘Where do they go?’ ” McNeil said. “I’m here to show them a more efficient way to use their technology. The more space you free up, the more you’ll have a faster-running device.”

McNeil stressed that no one is ever too old to learn how to keep up with digital technology. She said it’s a great way for people to keep on top of photos, banking and correspondence.

“We’re blessed with little cameras in our pockets,” McNeil said. “There are ways to organize everything to eliminate all the clutter at home.”

McNeil’s first round of sessions filled up quickly, but interested participants can request a personalized session via the website,, which has complete information about all the classes.

Other courses offered this semester include Garden Art, Cooking with Chef Jon and Basketball for Adults.

Goodwin said that registrations are accepted right up until the class starts, space permitting.

Tawnya Panizzi is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Tawnya at 724-226-7726, [email protected] or via Twitter .

Fox Chapel Herald | Local | Plum Advance Leader | Valley News Dispatch