H. Blažun1, D. Zeleznik2, P. Kokol1

1Univeristy of Maribor (SLOVENIA)
2University College of Health Sciences Slovenj Gradec (SLOVENIA)
Purpose: The 'third age' of human life is becoming noticeably longer, which on one hand generates a need for elderly people’s adaptation to information and communication tehnology (ICT) and on the other offers additional opportunities for elderly to obtain ICT skills. Due to demographic changes, empowered elderly people are also important from societal perspective therefore the competence and experience of elderly people will be absolutely crucial in the future in order to stabilise economies and to maintain the overall competence of the societies. As there are claims that digital ICTs have the potential to support elderly people to live independently, and self-reliantly in a manner to 'age well', to promote social inclusion and to facilitate access to commercial and government services (e.g. eHealth services) a six-month study of elderly people’s willingness to adapt ICT based on multiplier blended learning paradigm has been performed in scope of the PRIMER-ICT project.

Approach: The main objective of the PRIMER – ICT project was to intensively promote the use of ICT among elderly people, and to help them adapt to ICT and gain ICT skills by using inter-generational and multi - sectoral approach which was based on blended learning paradigm. In the personalized teaching method, the training for the elderly people started two steps away from the actual ICT training courses designed for them; with educating the teachers and multipliers with various backgrounds such as health, nursing, community nursing and ICT. A study was performed during ICT training courses for elderly people where different self-assessed variables concerned with the success of teaching and its use in real world were assessed.. The training courses for elderly people were led by the multipliers mainly in the academic domain, elderly homes (care homes), day and community centres and lasted three days. The maximum group size was 5–8 elderly participants who worked in a mobile e-classrooms consisting of 5 - 8 portable computers. In addition to well-developed course materials and individual work with multipliers, elderly were further motivated to participate in the courses with videoconferencing, Nintendo Wii games and small awards. Altogether there were 166 elderly people included in the study from Austria, Ireland, Slovenia and UK.

Results: Elderly people significantly improved their ICT skills during the intensive courses. However, one month after the completion of the training course, skill level slightly decreased. The project generated a great interest among elderly people, especially in elderly homes and other organisations connected to elderly people. The primary reason for the success of the project is the development of the innovative three levelled educational scheme (Multiplier based blended learning paradigm), intergenerational cooperation and the inclusion of well-trained multipliers into the learning process.