Older Adults and Technology
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Educators may also be interested in the articles on assessing the learning/training and software/hardware needs of the older adult.
(In addition, the site at: www.mbnet.mb.ca/crm/oalt offers a wide variety of information related to older adults, which could be useful to many educators and older literacy students.)
The project on Older Adults and Learning Technologies has focused the attention of many groups on the need to provide adequate nonthreatening learning conditions, access to the information technologies, appropriate teaching methodology and the need for national networking by various groups to include marginalized sectors of society with the tools to meet their learning needs.
Many of the findings of the project reinforced reports from the "Coming of Age" conference. For example, when addressing the learning needs of older adults and their fear of technology: - It has been found that sometimes using older equipment is less threatening to the learner - there is less fear of damaging expensive equipment. -Older hardware functions at a slower pace, which allows the learner more time to work and develop a comfort level. - Many seniors are attracted to the opportunity of communicating with friends and family using email, which is a great 'ice-breaker' when introducing new learning technology.
The Older Adults and Learning Technologies Project received funding support from the Office of Learning Technologies, Human Resources Development. For additional information, contact Brenda MacLauchlan, Project Co-ordinator, Tel. (306) 585-5706 or Far: (306) 585-5736. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Students Survey Lets the Learner Define Needs...
When programs decide to integrate technology into the curriculum, students are often the last to be asked for input on how they see computers in relation to acquiring literacy skills. A recent survey of 100 adult students in Adult Basic Education at the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board reflects some students' views of technology in the classroom...
In response to the question:
"Do you feel that computers help you to learn or practice your
reading, writing or numeracy skills?"
=> Only 40% of those surveyed answered yes to this question. Most said they did not know.
"What kind of lessons do you like in (Adult Basic Education)
=> 97% of the students indicated that they felt learning how to use various computer applications to develop skills was more important than focusing on language skills. One respondent said, "First I'd like to know the computer rules, then I can relax and enjoy myself, and practice writing." Or "I would like to learn programs like how to use Windows and WordPerfect. Then I can practice spelling."
"If you could make changes in your computer class, what would you
=> 82% indicated that computer lessons are essential. One respondent said, "I would teach the students how to use the computer first, before using the computer for writing or grammar lessons." Another said, "At first I would like to have some lessons with the computer by itself."
=> Almost all students felt that proper desks and chairs were essential to the computer labs.
These are just a few of the comments from the survey results, but they are a good indication that students have definite views as to where technology fits in the ABE curriculum.
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