50+ Technology

50+ Technology

Connecting older individuals to our digital society

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Last Update: June 24, 2014

This project aims to introduce senior individuals in technological means in order to communicate and get informed. Through intergenerational learning in a classroom setting, young students tutor seniors on one to one basis, in basik skills of operating computers and tablets.

Founded: 2013 Type: hybrid

The Problem

In our contemporary society we growingly depend on technological means to communicate and get informed. Older generations have extreme difficulties in doing so, because of their (proportionally) larger digital illiteracy. This places a large proportion of seniors in danger of social exclusion. Convetional computer one-lecture classes for seniors demontrate a high drop out rate, which may place them as inadequate to address this issue.

The Solution

50+ technology educate seniors into the basic skills of operating computers and tablets in an innovative way. In a class setting, young students tutor older individuals in basic technological skills, either for computers, tablets, or smartphones. This tailor made program demonstrates among other positivities, a very low drop out rate. A byproduct of this process is the promotion of intergenerational solidarity, since in the classroom many age-specific stereotypes are challenged.

Example

Ms E., a 64 years old cancer survivor came ino the class, knowing nothing about computers. The first thing that striced her was that the learning process was very enjoyable ( we use a lot of play and humor in the classroom). Subsequently, she was amazed as she said "how young people have patience in interacting with seniors" something that she did not expected. Long after she "graduated" she wrote to the coordinator of the program that she could at last communicate with her children in Luxemburg and in America through Skype, Facebook and email. She was amazed that she could see photos of them immediately, to have video calls and interact with her grandchildre, to find and to book cheap flights to visit them.

Impact

In general, the program has left quite an impression both to tutors and to seniors (more than 100 in 2 years). Tutors (students) never expected to interact in such a meanigful and enjoyable way with seniors. Most of them participate in this project as a practicum or volunteer work tha can be demonstrated in their CV. It is important that young students get in touch with ageing issues early in their academic endevaour, as this will increase their awareness and first hand experience in the contemprary demographic challenges that we face (the ageing population). Seniors on the other hand are reintroduced in communicating with each other, with loved ones and with new companion. In addition, they are discovering the endless possibilities (as well as the hazards) of internet using. The rejuvinates their ineterest in participating, communicating and getting informed.

Full Impact Potential

Besides the warm calls we recieve from seniors' relatives, this program has the potential to develop further into a R&D structure. Digital products' design often reinforces the exclusion of older consumers. The 50+ technology can be the hub of applied research and development, were hardware and software can be developed in an "design for all" manner. Notably, technology use in older age is not a synonym of assistive technology. Far from it, design and aesthetics are futures that are highly appreciated by seniors, where getting treated as disabled is not!

Budget: $1,000 - $10,000

Financial Sources

Other

Sustainability Plan

The project relies on students volunteer-tutors. They are employed mainly from City College, as this institution considers it as an invaluable internship structure for their students. Therefore, classroom infrastructure and computers are provided from the institution. Our future strategy entails seeking partnerships with tech related companies, offering them sponsorships and R&D opportunities within the program.

Marketplace

Currently, certain municipalities offer eductional programs for older individuals for learnign computer skills. however they experience high drop out rates (in cases up to 90%) mainly for two reasons. 1st they are done in the conventional one-lecturer manner, which can not address the great heterogenity in skills and knowledge that seniors students have. 2nd, the curricula of these programs inlcude learning Excel and Acces (as a typical curricula of younger students), which does not excite interest nor motivate senior students. 50+ on the other hand is developed by experienced gerontologists.

Founding Story

This project is the continuum of The Knowledge Volunteers project. This was a European Founded project that was implemented in various countries around Europe. The founder implemented this project in Thessaloniki and witnessed its efficacy and potential. It was until the end of the project that was realized that such a program should be continued, as the social impact that it has in the local community is very rewarding. This view still gains support from various stakeholders and volunteers and share the vision for 50+ technology to evolve into a sustainable social project in Thessaloniki

Team Explanation

Currently the project is run by the founder George Pavlidis, with the support of Dr. Ana Vivas, Head of the Psychology department in University of Sheffield, IF (City College). Two coordinators, who are students of the Faculty, organize a class of 15 seniors and 15 volunteers. The projects is supported by 50+ Hellas, for communication, funding and networking purposes

Team Members

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The 50+project relies on students volunteer-tutors. They are employed mainly from City College, as this institution considers it as an invaluable internship structure for their students. Therefore, classroom infrastructure and computers are provided from the institution. Our future strategy...

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Comments

Evita Kolokouri profile img
Tue, 06/03/2014 - 07:26

Dear 50+Technology team,

at first I want to say that I really loved your idea/project along with the model that you use so as connect not only older people with technology but also fill in the generational gap that exists between young ambitious people who constantly look for new opportunities and the rising motivation of older peolpe who want to stay connected with today's innovations.

I have just a couple of questions for you, so as to understand a bit better the future of the program in terms of sustainability.

Can you give me some specific examples of how your project will generate revenue from its activities? What do you mean by receiving financial support from tech companies? like CSR programs?
And I would like to hear more about why you think that people will pay for your service. Do you have a plan to market your services in the future or you want to stay to the financial partnerships that you describe above?

Thank you in advance for your time & effort.
All the best,
Evita

George Pavlidis profile img
Tue, 06/03/2014 - 12:33

Dear Evita

Thank you for your response. Computer classes that are tailor-made for the 50+ generation are rare worldwide. This constitutes 50+ Technology an invaluable opportunity in the local and national level. Yet, our ambition is to grow, which prioritizes the need to create revenue. Our strategy involves
1. approaching tech related companies (retail and manufacturers) in order to offer sponsorship, CSR, and access to a R&D structure opportunities. The fact that the 50+ generation is a very promising market that has the 30% of the populations' purchase power is a strong incentive for tech companies to build a competitive advantage in this target group.
2. To employ a social fare, which will sufficiently and only complementary support the financial sustainability of the project, yet that will not create profit.
3. Submitting proposals in EU funding opportunities, as healthy and active aging, as well as intergenerational learning, the digital agenda, accessibility and lifelong learning are of the highest priorities in the HORIZON 2020 agenda.
4. Offering and capitalize the Know-How of 50+ Technology as a model-project created in the premises of an academic institution. This can attract the interest of other educational institutions, which can capitalize the benefits of the project for their students and their public image
It is evident that some goals are rather ambitious, where others are very feasible. Currently, the project is not marketed all,yet it has gained a lot of publicity in the local level, due to its social impact, efficacy, and age friendliness. A campaign of the project will be lunched shortly, as the marketing department of City College offered kindly to undertake this action.
Our experience indicate that 50+ Technology is a very attractive service for older individuals. This is supported by the lack of alternatives in the local level, by the specificity and expertise in the area of older adults' education that only we can offer to date, and by the strong brand name that the project has developed in the local society. Regards to older individuals, their participation in our digital society is viewed as the mean to combat loneliness, an aspect of seniors life of enormous prevalence with great negative consequences in their lives.
I would like to take the opportunity to thank you for the interest you have expressed for 50+ Technology so far . I hope you will join us as advocates of this project, namely as a part of the team who shares the same aspiration to include seniors to our digital society