Turning Digital Natives into Digital Instructors

Why not leverage the skills of younger generations to teach older adults media and advanced digital literacy?

Technology is advancing at a furious pace. Innovations in hardware and software are transforming how we live, work and interact. The mobile communications products we rely on are upgraded daily. For Milennials and the “Net” generation, fluency is a given and adapting is effortless, but the rapid pace of change poses major challenges for older adults. Many times, tasks like email, texting, paying bills, booking travel, and even social networking present enormous navigation challenges, making “digital avoidance” the default for many. But avoiding technology entirely only increases the isolation that can come with aging. Worse, with the analog world fast disappearing, the very business of living mandates a minimum standard of digital fluency.

WiseTribe proposes a simple solution: Tap into the wealth of digital fluency found among our nation’s school children to teach seniors how to leverage technology. By doing so, we can empower older adults to perform essential online tasks and improve how they live, while also interacting in a practical and meaningful way with school students. For children, it’s about encouraging self-assurance, organization, patience and respect by turning a natural skill set into a valuable teaching tool.

We plan to organize an intergenerational after-school program in which children teach older adults computer and/or internet skills. The curriculum would be organized and designed by the children and focus on something simple but relevant and practical, such as photo sharing or advanced Facebook navigation. The program would be moderated by a teacher who can provide a sense of connection among older adults to the school.

Initially, we need a few WiseTribers to volunteer to help us pilot this program. Once it’s been implemented in a couple of schools, we can build a turnkey package that will include advertising to attract local seniors, presentation packets for WiseTribe members to introduce the idea to schools, and training materials to help students get started in the program.

Children would benefit hugely from this project by gaining confidence in their instruction skills, improving their intergenerational social skills, and practicing community service. By connecting older adults with children to enhance their digital lives, older adults gain a renewed appreciation for the school system and, ideally, will contribute to improving local education.

We hope you will join us in building this exciting program. Contact us for more information or to get involved!

Summary of Program:

What: Children developing and teaching a curriculum that teaches older adults practical digital skills for the 21st century.

Where: ideally at a school with computer lab so that children do not need transporation, or a YMCA or senior center with computers.

When: an after-school program that is a (for example) a 6 week course

Who: kids who exhibit traits and capabilities that would be well aligned with executing this program successfully; a teacher to moderate and champion the program; a variety of older adults recruited from newspaper ads, grandparents of students, churches, etc.

Sponsor: WiseTribe sponsors the program to highlight the importance of social cohesion/intergenerational societies and demonstrate that learning and teaching can happen at any age.

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