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older adults, technology, Sheridan Elder Research Centre


The goal of this exploratory study, conducted throughout 2005 - 2006, was to examine effective ways to provide both initial computer training and ongoing technical support for elders with little or no computer experience, and to explore whether the accomplishment of acquiring computer skills had an impact on the elders’ quality of life. The computer training and follow-up technical support were provided by student volunteers trained specifically for this study. Following the computer training, all participants were offered 12 weeks of ongoing technical support (phone, email or in person) by the same student tech tutors and additional student volunteers. Questionnaires measuring computer comfort and proficiency were administered pre and post training and again at 6 weeks and 12 weeks after the training. Participants kept logs of their computer use and recorded their goals, successes, and challenges throughout the study. The trained and volunteer tech tutors kept field notes of the elders’ learning, and recorded the nature of the technical help requested by the participants. A number of common themes were revealed in the narrative data of both the elders and the student tech tutors. These were clustered into four categories: social inclusion; the teaching and learning experience; expanding horizons; and expressions of self-efficacy. Specific challenges encountered by tech tutors and participants are presented and innovative teaching strategies are proposed. Findings point to the need for further studies to explore the psychosocial factors that motivate and hinder elder requests for ongoing technical help as well as the need for outreach to convey the unexpected benefits of going online to nonusers. A number of recommendations and implications for policy, education and further research were highlighted by the study.


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Sheridan Elder Research Centre (SERC)

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Original Publication Citation

Pratten, S., Schindel Martn, L., Ryan, E., Anas, A., Spadafora, & P., Hart, R. (2005). Older Adults Embracing Technology: Leave No One Behind. [Report]. Oakville: Sheridan Elder Research Centre (SERC).

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