50+ Technology

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50+ Technology: Connecting older individuals to our digital society

Thessaloniki, GreeceAthens, Greece
Year Founded:
2013
Organization type: 
hybrid
Project Stage:
Established
Budget: 
$1,000 - $10,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

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.

WHAT IF - Inspiration: Write one sentence that describes a way that your project dares to ask, "WHAT IF?"

The younger generation can "teach" the senior generation to become included in our digital society
About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

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.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

50+ technology educate seniors into the basic skills of operating computers and tablets in an innivative way. In a class setting, young students tutor older individuals in basic technological skills, either for computers, tablets, or smartphones. This tailor made programm 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.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

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: What is the impact of the work to date? Also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

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.

Spread Strategies: Moving forward, what are the main strategies for scaling impact?

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!
Sustainability

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

The project will rely on young students volunteers as a pool of volunteer tutors. It will continue to work with City College, in to be provided with the necessary classroom infrastructure and computers. Continued efforts of getting financial support from tech related companies and hopefully the implementation of R&D structures within the program, comprise our future strategy.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

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.
Team

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

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). Currently, two coordinators which are students of the Faculty organize a class of 15 seniors and 15 volunteers. The projects is supported by 50+ Hellas, for communication and networking purposes
About You
About You
First Name

George

Last Name

Pavlidis

About Your Project
Organization Name
How long has your organization been operating?

Project
Organization Country

, Athens

Country where this project is creating social impact

, Thessaloniki

What awards or honors has the project received?
Funding: How is your project financial supported?

Other.

Supplemental
Partnerships: Tell us about your partnerships.

City College, International Faculty of the University of Sheffield. Provides a room equipt with computers, projectors, paper material and offers to assist in employing volunteers for their pool of students

Comments

Hi George,

Thank you for your submission. Your project has already done important and meaningful work and addresses the important needs of the aging population. I would like to know more about the details of 50+ Technology's model. What particular technology skills are you teaching the seniors and how is it proving to be useful to them? It would be helpful to know where and how they are using the skills they've gained through your program to get a better understanding of the impact of their education. Again, thank you for your submission, and I look forward to learning more about it!

Best,
Janie

Evita Kolokouri's picture

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's picture

Dear Janie

Thank you for your post. We teach seniors how to use the computer in Windows interface; how to create and save files; how to create documents, save the in files and print them; hot use the Internet, especially the Google platform, in order to perform searches, visit webpages for news, shopping, purchase tickets etc. We make together an email account and we learn how to use it. We learn about safety in the Internet. We create a Facebook account for each and learn how to use it. We make a Skype account, and we learn how to use it. As described in the project, the contemporary evidence illustrate that your communication now days is growingly realized through the Internet (e.g., social media, email, surfing). Virtually, older individuals that are illiterate to use a computer are excluded of these opportunities to socialize. The problem is augmented due to the fact that relatives and family tend to emigrate in remote locations, where personal contact becomes rare. Through 50+ Technology, seniors are introduced in basic knowledge about computers and the web, which allows them to communicate with friends, family and relatives in frequent bases. In addition, they get informed from a wide variety of information sources that are available online. The same benefit is observed for those that experience functional limitations in terms of mobility, In such cases, even seemingly short distances become remote locations. Through the use of the aforementioned online resources, they can re-connect socially.

In a more technical level, the use of computers from the seniors population is indicated as excellent cognitive training which buffers against cognitive decline. Furthermore, it is the mean to combat loneliness in older age, something that is acknowledged as the contemporary problematic regards seniors' quality of life.
I hope these clarifications help. Thank you so much for your interest in the project.

Best

George Pavlidis's picture

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