Posted by: Gillian | October 10, 2008

elearning for EU seniors

It always annoys me when people label any kind of course (from yoga to cookery to physics) as “suitable for seniors”.  It’s as if everyone becomes instantly lacking in any previous skill or ability at some birthday that varies from country to country.  That said, I was pleased to pick up from Gary Woodill in Canada (!) that there is a European Union funded project bringing elearning to ‘seniors’.  I tried the link to the eLSE project work and did not find it the most intuitive front-end but, if you know people who are nervous about ‘the internet’ and want something that assumes a base-knowledge of zero, this is a great start.  Of course, that person will not be you because you can read this – but your help will be needed to help people access the courses.

As an alternative approach, why not forget all those well-meaning and, I admit, often useful courses that teach people about ‘the internet’ or ‘computers’.  It is the sales pitch that is so off-putting.  Note, they are rarely called “How to use…” and frequently resemble the car maintenance course of my youth that had my disassembling all sorts of bits but never quite got round to explaining why they were there.

Why not start from simple learning, rather than teaching, principles and ask what people want?  eLSE has done this to some extent by giving a ‘how to’ course on using the internet for travel purposes but a different approach would be to find a blog on something your favourite  new-user is interested in and put the mouse in the ‘reply’ box.  Hunt-n-peck typing is fine.  The result should come up on the screen!  If there is moderation in place that can be a learning moment/day and an opportunity to talk about privacy and security.

If anyone out there wants to give it a go and cannot decide on a topic, try this blog-post and I’ll answer if others do not.  Any age as long as it is because the person writing out the message wants to try ‘the internet’.  The site is subject to moderation and anyone trying it with small children must take responsibility for that.  (I’ll find some fun sites for them as well.)

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