Workshop 1: Digitalisation – new Challenges and Impacts on Older Adults

Digital transformation – a challenge in later life? New developments and impact on older people and all generations

Speakers: Dr. Markus Marquard, ZAWiW, Ulm University / DANET e.V.

Theresa Kocher, ZAWiW, Ulm University

”Digitalization” reaches all areas of our lives and is accompanied by the mediatization of the living environment of older people. In many cases, this brings with it new learning challenges, but these also sometimes appear as learning impositions. Media and learning biographies play an important role in media appropriation, with trial and error becoming the dominant principle. Are older people at all capable of learning to handle new technologies? How can it be prevented that older people are not left behind in the digitalization process?

In this workshop, we will look at the many different areas of life of older people and how these areas are affected by the digitalization. This applies not only to the area of communication, but also to health and medicine, living and care, shopping and services, and much more.

How is this digital transformation being discussed in the various European countries? To what extent are older people being considered? What impact will it have on the lives of older people? How can older citizens in particular be actively involved in creating and developing of digitization?

The example of the future city of Ulm is used to show how “digitization from bottom up” can be created and developed.

Distance Digital Education in Later Life. Why is It Not Enough?

Speaker: Dr. Dušana Findeisen, Slovenian Third Age University, Ljubljana

The speaker will be dealing with the traditionally rejecting attitude towards distance digital education and learning in later life. She will be discussing the need for older people to be digitally included and the responsibility of all professionals to contribute towards reducing the digital divide and associated social inequalities. Further she will be examining the reasons why older learners’ attitude towards this type of education has improved during the COVID-19 sanitary crisis. She will conclude her brief presentation by two inspirational formats of distance digital education and learning in later life developed at Slovenian Third Age University in Ljubljana and will eagerly react to the participants’ statements and questions.

From the speaker’s point of view connectivity, social inclusion and digital inclusion are close concepts relating to the today’s networked society and older people. She underlines the responsibility of all professionals, educators involved in older adult education and learning included, to contribute to reducing the digital divide. While the current COVID-19 sanitary crisis is a painful real-life situation, it is also a great opportunity to get older adults – now left without alternative choice- rediscover the digital world, by involving them in distance digital education and learning. One should bear in mind, however, the complex nature of the task, since older adult education being both a way of participating (socially engaged education) and a way of living is more complex than adult education.

Dwelling upon her empirical findings resulting from observation and collected during the sanitary crisis and lock down, the speaker will point at the unavoidable social pain caused by the absence of others and the absence of physical social contact, the kind of pain that cannot be overcome by distance digital education. For that matter face-to-face education is needed, preferably conducted in small groups.

The responses of her older adult students who during the COVID-19 crisis have been involved in distance digital education and learning are in favour of regular presence of digital methods in multimodal educational programmes, but raise doubts about the allegedly almighty distance digital education and learning.

Dušana Findeisen will conclude her presentation by briefly presenting two inspirational examples of distance digital learning by doing projects conducted by and for older learners at Slovenian Third Age University during the sanitary crisis and lock down. The projects aim simultaneously at the increase in digital literacy, engaged participation and improving social inclusion of older learners.