Helping older adults access and use digital technology to enable social inclusion

Hello Colleagues,

We are now all aware, due to the pandemic, of how many adult learners are on the wrong side of the digital divide, what one colleague has recently referred to as the "digital chasm." One group of people who are particularly challenged by computers and portable digital devices, and getting and maintaining reliable Internet access, is older adults, in particular isolated, low-income adults living alone. What group could benefit more from the potential of technology to reduce isolation during a stay-at-home pandemic !

This is the beginning of a new discussion in which I invite you to describe the challenges you see with connecting older adults, however this group is defined, to digital technology and the Internet. Equally important, let's share potential resources for addressing this challenge: lessons, growth of telephone-based digital navigators, public library resources, public and private funding sources, and more.

To begin, I would like to recommend a short article that also has a link to potentially useful lessons for older adults that are focused on Internet communication tools to address isolation such as Zoom, Google Duo, and FaceTime.  This article is from our longtime colleagues to the north, ABC Life Literacy Canada.

Please read the article and check out the lessons. Would these lessons be useful to older adults? Could they, perhaps in combination with a telephone tutor, help to get older adults access to the Internet for social contact with friends and family, access to news of special interest, perhaps increased reading and writing or English skills, and more?

Also, if helping older adults is an interest of yours, you might be interested in joining the Open Door Collective's Older adults and Adult Basic Skills Issues Group. Learn about the Open Door Collective and its Well-being of Older Adults and Adult Basic Skills group here. The Open Door Collective, along with Northstar Digital Literacy, is one of two national programs of Literacy Minnesota.

David J. Rosen, Moderator

LINCS CoP Integrating Technology and Program Management groups