In the 14 editions of this digital literacy project for people 60 years old and older conducted so far, over 30,000 senior citizens have become certified “Internauts” through instruction by 21,000 student tutors and 2,100 IT teacher coordinators.
In the 2015-16 school year, this intergeneration learning model was applied in 20 Italian regions and 11 different nations.
The project in a nutshell
Courses are held in the computerized classrooms of schools of all kinds. The “learners” are local residents over 60 years old, perhaps the real grandparents of the students at the schools or elderly people registered at Social Centers for the Elderly or other associations. Classes of 20-25 elderly people are formed at each participating school. The tutors are school children coordinated by an expert ICT teacher. The ideal tutor/learner ratio is 1/2.
Computer lessons at schools
The duration of the free course is 30 hours, divided into 15 weekly lessons of 2-hour duration each. Participating seniors, student tutors, and teacher supervisors all receive an attendance certificate at the end of the course.
The project’s educational validity has been appreciated by the schools to the extent that it has been inserted in their Piano dell’offerta formativa (Pof)/Training Offer Plan and that credits are awarded to the student tutors.
The program of the course for absolute beginners is structured to provide a complete introduction to the use of the computer in just 15 lessons, from navigating in Internet to the use of e-mail and social network. The presentation of the various peripherals that can be connected to the pc (webcam, scanner, etc.) also provided the occasion to assist senior citizens in gaining familiarity with new communication technologies (mobile phones, digital terrestrial television, iPod, Iptv, etc.).
Each edition is enhanced by the multimedia work that both tutors and senior citizens perform together as an exercise in working with the pc: from the preparation of an online dictionary of yesterday’s toys and games to photo albums with digitalized vintage photos.
The first digital literacy kit for adults prepared with assistance from Rome’s “La Sapienza” University Linguistics Department is composed of 7 volumes.
Other modules are currently being structured and also video lessons
are being prepared for long-distance teaching (e-learning).
“Everyone on the Internet” week
A digital literacy week is staged each year every spring dedicated to adults in general and the elderly in particular. Tutors, teachers, and senior citizens invite everyone else to go back to their nearest classroom and learn the ABCs of the computer and online public administration services.
The Knowledge Volunteers network
The project’s objectives include the training of volunteers specialized in helping senior citizens achieve digital literacy. These volunteers need valid skills in information technology, management, teaching, and personal relations. Men and women of any age can become knowledge volunteers: current students and even retired teachers.
Senior citizens on the web
This online platform was created for all those involved in the experience: senior citizens, tutors, teachers and volunteers. Manuals, case histories, success stories, and testimonials are placed at the disposal of one and all, as well the respective research work and the real-time evaluation methodology.
Schools can take part in the “Non mi buttare… al Centro anziani c’è post@ per me” (Don’t throw me away, there’s a pl@ce
for me at the Senior Community Center) recycling campaign by setting up their own “Recycle Shop” where expert students can repair computers (hardware and software) no longer required by companies in order to donate them (after repair) to senior community centers or other schools where they are really needed.
The impact of the project’s action is constantly monitored and analyzed using innovative qualitative and quantitative instruments (RTE – Real-time Evaluation), while consolidated communication strategies add value to the results.