TAO/Handbook/Initiation and Meaningful Use

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Introduction[edit | edit source]

The basis of the approach outlined in this chapter is a vision of older adults’ media competence that is not limited to knowledge about how to use the internet but that includes the stimulation of an autonomous, critical and needs-based approach to the internet. Activities for initiating older adults to the internet can be of a more traditional kind including classroom courses and seminars, individual user support or PR events. The more traditional type of activities usually takes place in a face-to-face setting. More innovative types of activities, on the other hand, tend to take place online and can encompass newsletters, virtual learning projects, online mentoring, mutual work on articles or other user-generated content and collaboration in virtual groups. While the more traditional face-to-face approach is useful to introduce older adults to mostly new and unfamiliar online activities, the new online activities are suitable to address older adults who already have considerable experience with internet usage. Table 1 shows different types of activities that can be used when addressing older adults.

Table 1: Types of activities for approaching older adults for increased online participation

Face-to-face Online
Promotion and (local) advertising Online promotion
Courses and workshops (face to face) Online courses and e-learning

(incl. Blended learning)

Individual support and assistance

(face to face)

Online support and assistance
Seminars, meetings and other events Online collaboration, online community

Recommendations[edit | edit source]

  • Start out by learning more about the general interests and needs of a specific target group of older adults.
  • Make it clear when addressing older adults that the internet is not something that has to be absorbed passively but that can actually be adapted and designed by the individual according to his or her interests and needs.
  • Think carefully about how these interests and needs can be addressed with the options that the internet has to offer.
  • Remember that two categories of internet usage are often not well known by beginning users 60plus: Online collaboration and networking with other persons (online communities). Make sure to highlight the opportunities these kinds of internet usage have to offer.
  • Clearly define your target group. When planning an activity it is crucial to develop a clear definition of your target group. Are you more interested in addressing a broad array of older adults? Or do you have certain criteria that older adults need to fulfill in order to be part of your target group? These kinds of questions have repercussions on how you communicate about your activity.
  • A good knowledge of your target group helps design your outreach strategy: General advertisement activities are useful if your are targeting a wide array of older adults. However, if your target group is more narrow you will have to design a group-specific communication strategy.
  • Take a close look at the age-mix of your target group. Homogeneous age groups are often more appropriate for clearly structured course formats, organised events and general online activities whereas intergenerational participants profit if the topic of the activity specifically addresses relationships between young and old.
  • Start out with the familiar (face-to-face offerings) before moving on to the unfamiliar (online offerings).
  • Think about using settings that mix face-to-face and online approaches (for instance, blended learning).
  • Be sure to offer the option of face-to-face support even if your offering is purely online .
  • When planning an activity be sure to formulate a clear goal. This goal should be in line with the so-called SMART critieria. That is, it should be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timely.

Examples of Initiating Activities[edit | edit source]

Free Cruise on the Internet (Switzerland)

Activities on Facebook (Germany)

Further Information[edit | edit source]

Older Adults and Online Collaboration: Types of Users and Motivation

How to foster older adults' online participation