Digital skills play a major role in older people’s participation in today’s modern society. Often, however, older people need support in learning and maintaining their digital skills. Better consideration should be given to their views of digital skills training, and their views could also be better utilised in business development.
The learning of digital skills is a complex process that is affected by older people’s personal needs and motives as well as by societal, institutional, and learning situation related factors, according to recent international studies exploring older adults’ learning of digital skills in Finland, Germany, Austria, Italy and Japan.
“Older people’s learning of digital skills needs to be examined holistically so that support measures can be planned and implemented while acknowledging sociocultural contexts, environments, learning settings and instruction practices,” Professor Eija Kärnä of the University of Eastern Finland said.
The factors related to older people’s learning of digital skills were similar in all countries participating in the study. Yet, it is good to consider the cultural context to sustainably plan and implement forms of support related to digital skills. In particular, permanent and easy-to-access opportunities for learning are needed, which take older people’s situation and life circles into consideration.
“When teaching digital skills, instructors should integrate older people’s needs, values and wishes in the instructional content and pedagogy,” Project Researcher Lotta Aavikko of the University of Eastern Finland noted.
It is important to explore older people’s views of digital skills training, as these views will affect their willingness to participate. A better understanding of older people’s views also helps to organise training in a manner that is deemed relevant by them. Older people’s views should also be better considered in digital innovations, for example.
“Many older adults use digital technology on a daily basis. The views of all citizens, including older people, could be used to a much greater extent in business development,” Postdoctoral Researcher Kaisa Pihlainen of the University of Eastern Finland points out.
The studies were carried out as part of the ACCESS – Supporting Digital Literacy and Appropriation of ICT by Older People project funded by the Academy of Finland, the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research, the Italian Ministry of Research and the Austrian Federal Ministry of Education as part of the Horizon 2020 JPI MYBL programme.