International Aid Network

ICT supported intergenerational learning and social inclusion


slika1The concept of learning based on intergenerational cooperation has been fostered through various programs implemented by IAN Telecentar. One of the most prominent is the “Silver surfers” program, through which young people help the elderly acquire e-skills.

Another round of „Silver surfers” started at IAN-Telecentre in October 2015. It engages the youth included in the resocialization program within IAN Day Care Centre for children with behavior problems in teaching the elderly basic computer and internet skills. These youngsters have previously attended a set of ICT courses and developed own digital literacy skills.

Before stepping into the role of teachers, or e-facilitators as we in IAN Telecentar call it, the youngsters have also completed a short training-of-trainers in order to acquire the most important teaching skills. Now, three times a week they deliver classes and introduce the digital world to the elderly, supported by IAN Telecentre professional IT teachers.

IMG_5204This is a model of knowledge transfer through which both the elderly and the youngsters profit. Through teaching, youngsters learn some important life skills. As Ivan (17) says: “We learn how to be patient, social and how to communicate with other people“. And Igor (18) adds: “It is nice to show people something they don’t know yet and to pass knowledge to others“. Another important aspect is that the youngsters realize that it takes some time for everyone to learn new things. It is visible that the young people are having fun helping the seniors and that they do it with a lot of patience.

The main motivation for the elderly to participate in this course is to spend their free time useful: „I want to keep my mind active“, said Jasminka ( 74).

They also want to be able to communicate with their family members living abroad via Skype or Facebook. Vesna (72) told us „My sister lives in the United States. If I learn how to use Skype I could talk to her easily“.

Another good reason for attending the course, as we heard from Vesna (72) is to use the Internet to find good recipes: „I love Lebanese food and on the internet I can find a lot of great recipes“.

An important motivation factor that makes these curious and brave seniors get immersed into an unknown digital world is also a desire to be a part of the modern society. “We had to write everything by hand back then. Now everything is happening in the virtual world, I want to be a part of it”, said Stojan (70)  smiling.

The “silver surfers” attending the classes in IAN Telecentar feel more motivated to learn at the classes than out of books at home, because “the boys immediately come and help if something doesn’t work and they like to help us“.

The seniors describe the boys who teach them as “phenomenal”, “eloquent”, “patient”, “fantastic“. They are delighted with the course and their teachers. The experience of this kind of community work in IAN Telecentar, accompanied with the whole range of other support services and treatment for the youngsters with behavior problems, among whom also those in conflict with the law, helps bring about important behavior changes.

IMG_5208Being entrusted with such a responsible role of teaching others builds self-confidence of youngsters, providing them with opportunities to develop competencies, contribute, develop transferable skills, and teach and mentor others while avoiding harmful behavior. This type of work allows them to practice and demonstrate their skills, it gives them meaningful community roles that contribute to the well-being of others.

„Silver surfers” is an excellent example of encouraging social inclusion of two socially excluded groups, elderly and youth at risk, through the usage of ICTs, as well as a great way to bring two generations together where both groups can pass some knowledge onto the other and have benefits from this intergenerational learning and sharing.

Activities presented in this post are implemented thanks to the support of SHL and UNICEF

IAN Telecentar
Djure Danicica 5 Street
11000 Belgrade, Serbia

tel. +38111 3229 732