Background[edit | edit source]
Seniorweb.ch is a platform that targets an audience ages 50 and up. It offers opportunities for collaborative and self-directed learning. With e-learning seniors can learn at any time and any place, the subject matter can be selected based on individual preferences and they can take breaks and repeat the material as often as they likes. Seniorweb helps:
- to introduce offliners: People, who are currently not active online or who are hardly ever online, are shown the possibilities the Internet has to offer and especially introduced to the wealth of opportunities that seniorweb.ch provides;
- to support beginners: Show beginners the possible forms of use, develop simple online tools and provide support to them in their first steps to becoming independent;
- to socialize skilled users: Show skilled seniorweb.ch users the possibilities an online community has to offer and motivate them to actively participate in a collaborative learning arrangement;
- to organize active users among themselves: Teach active members the skills they need to develop and offer new learning arrangements on their own.
Concepts[edit | edit source]
There are three categories of technical tools. The tools depend on the educational objectives and the didactic methods:
- “You know that” (Distribution): The purpose of the first category of tools is to convey knowledge within a sense of a teacher oriented and instructionalist approach. The objective is to tap into new fields of knowledge.
- “You know how” (Interaction): This category involves tools that emphasize human-computer interaction. For example, simulation programs re applied to practice certain skills.
- “Knowing in action” (Collaboration): Here, the Internet is used as a communication medium. The focus here is on mutually developing new knowledge or solving problems in collaboration with others.
The following target groups are proposed:
- Beginners: People who have already successfully taken the first steps going online, yet who still need support in exploring the latest tools.
- Advanced users: Members of Seniorweb, who would like to make use of the collaborative potential of the online community.
Volunteer work and self-organized efforts
Volunteer work and self-organized efforts enable Seniorweb:
- to handle its limited resources: Seniorweb must build upon an organizational form that is based on the principle of being self-organized and of making use of volunteered resources;
- to achieve a user-friendly web-based program: Potential users are integrated in the structure at a very early stage based on the “senior for senior” principles.
- to form a community: The common development is in itself a collaborative form or problem solving and encourages internal coherence within the community.
Methods[edit | edit source]
The development of Seniorweb ist based on the idea of ‘Action Learning’ and ‘Design Thinking’. Learners here are not simply passive recipients of knowledge, but they are active in developing it. And at the end of the learning process, the result is not only theoretical background knowledge and knowledge of the methodology, but also specific results that can be used on an practical level.
‘Design thinking’ means nothing more than applying a step-by-step learning process to find one’s way toward the needs of stakeholders. The learning process is not simply linear, but instead it is iterative. What this means is that it is sometimes ok to take a step backward in order to integrate insights from the development process.
Based on the principle of developing user-driven solutions and based on the Stanford Design Thinking model, following steps are proposed:
- Understanding: In an initial stage, it is important to understand the essential needs an underlying conditions of the project idea. Only this way is it possible to develop solutions that not only consider the needs of the users, but which are also technically feasible and are economically viable.
- Observing: In the next step, the participants need to develop their skills further to become experts in the needs of the users. Essentially, the work involved here is performed by surveying and especially by observing users.
- Focusing: Once the analysis has been completed, one will need to explain whether the problem was correctly understood and whether the objectives are clear. Or, would it be better to take a step bake in order to obtain more information?
- Brainstorming: When formulating ideas, various creativity techniques are used to consciously break free from prevailing mindsets in order to be able to penetrate the scope of solutions to the widest extent possible. In the process, unusual ideas and even those that seem impossible at first view are specifically welcome.
- Prototyping: In this phase of developing solutions, the focus is on structuring and visualizing. With the aid of simplified illustrated representations of the planned product, prototypes form the basis for a concrete discussion, the purpose of which is to stimulate one’s imagination thereby generating new ideas.
- Testing: The ideas for a solution that were created are compared to the requirements as early as possible and continuously compared throughout the process. Assessing the ease of use by involving real users is critical for the success of the project.
Findings: Dos and don'ts[edit | edit source]
- Educational objectives: The question relating to the technical implementation has cost quite a bit of time. Focusing the attention even more on the educational objectives may help to target more closely on the learning activities. In the process, as per the “design thinking” approach, one need to zoom in even more strongly on what it is that users really want.
- Didactics: As concerns the didactic concept, the challenge here is to be able to elaborate in more detail on such content and methods that as compared to classic teaching methods are able to provide added didactic value.
- Monitoring and learning process: Up until now, focus has been especially on means to convey educational content. In the future, we would like to give more attention to the issue of how learners can receive feedback un their learning success.
- Marketing: The products that have been developed are currently not very well known. In this regard, there is considerably potential in communicating the benefits to the public, as in “do good and talk about it”.
- Workshop form: Providing educational content in the form of workshops that involves working on specific products has proven to be a successful approach. The time window for working in the groups, however, proved to be a bit too short and only allowed the dynamic in the groups to evolve to a limited extent.
- Knowledge managemet: Up until now, the exchange of knowledge between each of the workgroups has been assured by the person who has led the workshops. In view of working in groups that are more spread out in the future, more consideration should be given to systematically structuring and exchanging knowledge.