GETTING DIGITAL INCLUDED SENIOR LEARNERS THROUGH THE TABLETS, NEEDS AND REQUIREMENTS FROM SENIORS@DIGIWORLD PROJECT
The use of mobile devices to access the Internet is not as widespread among seniors as it is among other population groups. According to data from Eurostat 41% of adults from 65 to 74 years old use the Internet (2016). While educational institutions offer courses to increase the digital literacy, other organisations –we call them multipliers– such as libraries, elderly houses, social care centres, telecentres, etc, which come into direct contact with senior citizens are the first (and sometimes the only one), agree to get help on the use of tablets. These kind of organisations are neither related to training nor have experience on education, but still keep offering tuition and assistance for senior learners.
In this context, the Erasmus+ KA2 Strategic partnership project Seniors@DigiWorld (www.digital-seniors.eu) proposes to enable institutions which have direct contact with senior citizens, no matter whether they have educational expertise or not, to provide learning opportunities through the use of mobile devices.
The first phase of the Seniors@DigiWorld project consisted on the analysis of senior citizens’ and multipliers’ training needs. This analysis was conducted in Jan-Feb-Mar 2017 to senior learners, multipliers (including staff and managers). We performed 383 questionnaires to senior citizens (+65) together with 160 multipliers all those performed in LT, RO, DE, and ES.
We aimed to know the interest on the Internet access, the tablet usage and the preferred method of learning for senior citizens. Regarding multipliers and organisations, we aimed to know their capacity for training as well as their needs. Senior learners feel tablet usage is, to some extend, confusing (55%) and they are afraid of breaking things (60%), taking also into account non-digital users (61% 75+, 33% 70-74 and 27% 65-69 years old). However, they feel interested on technology to some extend (67%) although a great majority would like to use it just to communicate with family and friends (89%). Only 43% of multipliers felt confident teaching ICT skills but 66% felt confident to motivate senior citizens. Quantitative and qualitative data support following findings:
We can conclude that becoming a trainer of senior learners is not a matter of pedagogical capacities (although respondents wished to have more skills on these aspects) but of having the capacity to increase the motivation and interest of the senior learner and being able, or at least, trying to remove any barrier that keeps seniors away from learning. Technical issues and pedagogical capacities should be provided differently to when teaching hard skills or technical capacities. Here, the pedagogical capacities put a huge effort on the social aspects of ICT, emotions, learning experience and connections with people; trainers should facilitate the creation of support networks, social learning and learning to learn attitude. Therefore, senior learners would become digitally included and not dependent on the training institution.
The use of tablets has also provided huge benefits on the senior learners, those are: more personal (sense of identity), intuitive (lack of bridge, as mouse), huge mobility (can carry them more easily) and enjoyable (associated to movies, books, websites), the use of computers has been demonstrated to be useful when having to work or write texts. Tablets become, therefore, the best gadget to promote digital inclusion on senior learners without ICT experience.