1 Universitat Jaume I (SPAIN)
2 Universitat Oberta de Catalunya (SPAIN)
About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2018 Proceedings
Publication year: 2018
Pages: 3477-3479
ISBN: 978-84-09-05948-5
ISSN: 2340-1095
doi: 10.21125/iceri.2018.1778
Conference name: 11th annual International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 12-14 November, 2018
Location: Seville, Spain
Virtual learning spaces are offered to students to acquire competences and skills regardless of time and space. The online learning makes possible that more people access education opportunities, and increase their job skills and work related competences, but we focus on adults learners that are enrolled on online courses not because job requirements or competitiveness, mainly because of personal motivations. Senior learners (in our context adult retired) attend to courses because they want to keep active and up-to-date, sharing the time with other classmates, enjoying and learning from this experience. This interaction is reached thanks to face-to-face environments, for this reason it is not usual to offer full virtual learning spaces, furthermore when statistically senior citizens are not so ICT skilled as younger (Information and Communication Technologies, that is mainly computer and internet use).

The Senior Citizens' University (SCU), started online teaching in the course 2011/2012, no in the course 2017/2018 98 learners (that is 11 % of the total SCU learners). We offered two courses that lasted 4 months each: Cultural heritage of Castellón and A sociological view of the evolution of youth. We used Moodle as the virtual platform.

After the both courses finished we wanted to know what seniors learnt. This was a global question not focused on the topic of the subject, but general. We performed a quantitative survey that included questions about time devoted, connection frequency, expectations, the tool used, and what they have learnt (list of soft skills and other competences). Qualitative survey asked how they felt, if they learnt something they can use in everyday and what changes suggest.

In this paper we also introduce the methodology and pedagogy used; andragogy principles together with constructivist activities makes the online learning to be mainly a social learning mediated by technology.

The results show how the participation in an online course inscreased a lot their ICT skills. Compared to ICT classes (those focused to some tools and internet skills) to communicate, collaborate and share spaces online forced them to adopt the use of the technology from a constructive and useful perspective, not only for surfing.

The fact of finishing the course impacted them greatly: accomplishment feeling, capacity of using ICT tools independently and with more confidence, social network increased (and supporting colleagues), etc. We want to remark the fact that during the first weeks of the online course some students felt lost as the learning methodology was completely new to them (there were use to more instructivist teaching), as we proposed discussion activities, collaborative and others creative activities, it meant an extra effort from the. That resulted in new skills learnt; capacity for transmiting ideas, understanding others (mainly using written language), organize a collaborative work in a asynchronous way, etc. The soft skills they acknowledge have acquired are: responsibility, teamwork, communication among others. Of course, specific-topic skills have also been acquired, and we asses them from the methodological perspective: capacity for analyze, compare, and apply in today life.

As a conclusion we correlate the methodology proposed with the skills and competences learnt, proposing the activities that make possible online learners acquire more skills and competences than those related to the subject.
Online, e-learning, seniors, skills, lifelong learning.