1 Ayuntamiento de la Villa de Ingenio (SPAIN)
2 Universidad de Las Palmas de Gran Canaria (SPAIN)
3 Innovation Center for Information Society - C.I.C.E.I. (SPAIN)
About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN12 Proceedings
Publication year: 2012
Pages: 3076-3085
ISBN: 978-84-695-3491-5
ISSN: 2340-1117
Conference name: 4th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 2-4 July, 2012
Location: Barcelona, Spain
The percentage of older Internet users has been increasing in recent years. According to statistics released in 2009 by the China Network Information Center (CNNIC), the percentage of Internet users aged over 60 in mainland China steadily raised from 0.3% in 1998 to 1.5% in 2008. By contrast, this percentage for people between 50 and 60 rose from 1.0% to 4.0%. Elsewhere, the European Union is also trying to reduce the gap in the use of the Internet between the elderly and the average of population. With the advent and development of online social networks, an increasing number of old people are beginning to explore these new technologies.

Thus, we need to educate the older people from this new perspective of knowledge, so this new educational process can cover basic aspects associated with their prior knowledge. Furthermore, many times people tend to define these educational issues from a very optimistic point of view. Firstly, these people do not have the same learning abilities than the average population. Secondly, these people do not have the same interests as the average population. Thus, we must adapt to the interests and resources that older people have; it is useless for them to acquire new knowledge if they can not afford the resources that provide this new knowledge. These resources may be hardware and software. The hardware resources can not be redefined, i.e. a computer is always a computer, we can not change many of the physical characteristics of it but we can improve their use by teaching an ergonomic way to use the computer. On the other hand, the software is customizable, we can overcome the physical disabilities suffered by these people (whether visual or motor disabilities) to develop new tools that enable a greater intellectual development in an environment more suitable to their characteristics.

Furthermore, from the perspective of teaching, two things have been shown. The pedagogical approach is essential and it must be in an underlying layer between the hardware and software. That is the key for the elderly learning process, by doing this way, they are able to connect the dots between what they already know, what they must learn and how to learn it. And, what is more important, they are able to do this by themselves. The second important thing that has shown us this project is that, from an educational perspective, the time needed by the elderly to acquire the necessary skills in the use of Web 2.0 technology is greater than any other younger person. However, a good planning supported by visual references during the sessions significantly reduces the learning time. We must bear in mind a very important and common feature of the Web 2.0 technology is to provide intuitive visual references.

In this paper we show how, through a course of 10 sessions length, we have instructed elderly from barely use a computer to managing social networks independently. We also have developed new ways to deal with the learning disadvantages that age involves. Some of those problems such as the digital divide are exceeded by other more serious deficiencies like being trouble when reading or writing. Nonetheless, the perseverance during the learning process showed by this group of people plus a correct and gradual course planning have provided us very significant data about the learning curve showed by the elderly during the course.
Elderly, Web 2.0, Social Media, Innovation.