Volume #2 Issue #2, April/May 1998
Older Adults' Literacy and Technology
In Canada, many older adults have taken to the Information Highway, especially in the area of learning technology. The Senior's Education Centre at the University of Regina is in the final stages of a multi-level project to assess the learning needs of older adults (55+) and their attitudes to learning and technology. The project team, under Dr. Don King, has been examining the need to help older learners overcome their fear and resistance to new technologies, as well as providing access to technology based learning opportunities.
The project has focused the attention of educators on the unique needs and concerns of learners in this age group. While the project treats the learning needs of older learners at all levels, many of its findings have practical applications for literacy practitioners who work with older adults.
The first phase of the project was to evaluate computer hardware and software needs and resources, and to assess the needs and barriers for rural and urban older adults who might use computer technology. In addition to the research, the Senior's Education Centre hosted the national "Coming of Age" conference for older adults and related learning organizations in the spring of 1997.
The final stage of this project includes a multimedia laboratory at the Senior's Education Centre which meets the need of accessibility for older adults. The project team has developed a learning model of instruction, peer support and tutor assistance, and in cooperation with Saskatchewan Communications Network (SCN) offers non-credit courses to older adults in various Saskatchewan communities. Also, in co-operation with Creative Retirement Manitoba (CRM), they developed and maintain an on-line quarterly newsletter, and host on-line conferences for and with educators of older adults.
With CRM, they have also designed and maintain a clearing house on all Canadian learning technology suitable for adults over the age of 55.
Information, resource material and the report from the "Coming of Age" conference can be found at: www.uregina.ca/extnsion/seniors.html, In addition, there are Web discussions and links to related sites, including SeniorNet, a non-profit American organization which provides older adults with information on technology. (SeniorNet can be found at: www.seniornet.org)
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