Older people becoming successful ICT learners over time: challenges and strategies through an ethnographical lens

Sergio Sayago (1), Paula Forbes (2), Josep Blat (3).
(1) School of Computing, University of Dundee, Scotland, United Kingdom
(2) Department of Computer Science, University of Aberdeen, United Kingdom
(3) Interactive Technologies Group, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona, Spain

Published in:
Educational Gerontology (JCR=0.348, Q4). This well-respected journal offers up-to-date original research in the fields of gerontology, adult education, and the social and behavioral sciences. Researchers from around the world will benefit from the exchange of ideas for both the study and practice of educational gerontology. Papers published in the journal will also serve as authoritative contributions to the growing literature in this burgeoning field. Educational Gerontology is the only international journal of its kind to publish twelve issues per volume year.

A growing ageing population and an increasing reliance on Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) to conduct activities associated with daily living means that addressing how older people learn to use ICT is timely and important. By drawing on a 4-year ethnographical study with 420 older people in two different environments, this paper shows that they adopt three strategies to become successful ICT learners, whilst at the same time dealing with the effects of age-related changes in fluid memory: (i) linking learning to real-life needs, (ii) learning collaboratively and informally, and (iii) adopting appropriate memory aids. This paper also addresses the question of how valid these results will be when today’s ICT-literate adult people grow older. The longitudinal aspect of the data gathered shows that older people become confident ICT learners over time, the learning strategies and cognitive-related difficulties are mostly time-persistent, and their life experience is always important in learning transfer. Implications for providing older people with a more integrated approach to ICT learning are discussed.

Author’s version: ManuscriptTables.

Sayago, S., Forbes, P., Blat, J. (2012). Older people becoming successful ICT learners over time: challenges and strategies through an ethnographical lens. Accepted for publication (3-June-2012) in Educational Gerontology.