Computer Training for Older Adults: A Comparison of the Perspectives of Older Adults, Computer Instructors, and Social Workers

By Adrian Kok and Cyrus Grant.

Published by The Technology Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

An increasing number of classes with varying formats, content, and instructional approaches have been developed to enhance computer learning among older adults. Evaluation studies on the best practices in training older adults (OA) computer skills have been limited to the perspective of the researchers, professionals, or consumers. This research uses a multidimensional framework, which conceives of best practices as an approach that incorporates empirical research with the experiences of consumers and practitioners (Petr & Walter, 2005). We assessed best practices for teaching computers from OA, computer instructors, and geriatric social workers. The goal was to assess similarities of the instructional practices OA consider helpful and to compare them with social workers and computer instructors. The ultimate goal was to contribute to the discussion on enhancing lifelong learning for OA with technology from a multidisciplinary perspective. The study utilized surveys and interviews with 58 geriatric social workers, 48 computer instructors, and 84 OA. The survey was developed from a review of research on lifelong learning and qualitative interviews with computer instructors and OA. The three groups rated the structure, content, and pedagogical approaches of computer classes. ANOVA repeated measures indicated there were more similarities for training OA computers than the Internet. The two groups of professionals as well as OA were in agreement with the features of effective computer classes. There were significant differences on pedagogical approaches and content. A multidisciplinary perspective is applied to an examination of incorporating best practices for enhancing technology learning for older adults.

Keywords: Computers, Older Adults, Computer Training, Information Technology, Technology Adoption, Human Computer Interface, Community Informatics

The International Journal of Technology, Knowledge and Society, Volume 4, Issue 5, pp.69-82. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 654.944KB).

Dr. Adrian Kok

Associate Professor, Graduate School of Social Work, Dominican University, River Forest, IL, USA

Adrian Kok has a PhD from the School of Social Work from the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign. His current interests are primarily in the area of interdisciplinary collaboration, technology adoption by older adults, lifelong learning, and community informatics. He published “Enhancing Information Literacy in an Interdisciplinary Collaboration” in the Journal of Technology in Human Services and “Multiple Perspectives in Learning and Collaborating: A Case Study of the HelpSource Collaboration” in the International Journal of Technology, Learning, and Society. The two companion articles focus on the processes and outcomes of the HelpSource Consortium, a collaboration of information providers, social workers, librarians, and health care providers from several communities in East Central Illinois who used a compendium approach in developing a comprehensive website of human services and community information( He was recently awarded a Hartford Partnership Program in Aging Education grant by John A. Hartford Foundation to implement a rotational internship system to build competencies and develop leadership skills for future geriatric social workers.

Prof. Cyrus Grant

Professor, Computer Science, Dominican University, River Forest, IL, USA

Cyrus Grant is a Professor and Chair of Computer Science at Dominican University in River Forest, Illinois. He obtained his MS in Computer Science from Washington State University and his MBA from Rosary College. He has done a lot of work in the teaching of computers to non computer scientists and has been involved in curriculum development, training and teaching in this area. His other research interests are in Electronic Commerce, Electronic Data Information and Database Systems.


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