Log On, Learn is a collaborative initiative between Intel, An Post and Microsoft. More than 100 secondary schools across the country have already signed up to the Log On, Learn programme this year. As the programme is rolled out further, it will have the capacity to train up to 30,000 older people in basic computer skills, making it the largest delivery system of computer training designed especially for older people.
During January, An Post is sponsoring a national television and online advertisement to promote computer literacy for older people as part of their National Adult Literacy campaign. The initiative is promoted locally by the TY students, allowing them to improve their marketing skills.
Research has shown that older people experience a ‘fear factor’ around computers and often express the opinion that computers are ‘not for them’. The perception is that computers are complex and ‘difficult to learn’. Many older people miss out on the benefits of being able to use the internet and other basic digital equipment like ATMs and mobile phones.
As the ‘digital divide’ widens, barriers to accessing computer training and literacy can lead to social isolation and greater expense for older people. Having a basic knowledge of computer and internet skills can give access to many exclusively online products and lower prices. It can also mean increased contact with family and friends at home and abroad, leading to greater quality of life and happiness.
In order to address the growing problem of literacy for people of all ages, An Post, Intel and Microsoft, have come together to devise and promote the Log On, Learn programme. Log On, Learn uses the one-to-one teaching method, which is designed to ‘buddy up’ a participating transition year student tutor with an older person from their local community to share their skills with one another.
From the school computer room, the student tutors share their knowledge of how to use a PC and mouse, basic word processing and Internet confidence, at a pace which suits the older person. The relationships built allow the older person to share their ability to relate and communicate opinions, memories and life experience.
Log On, Learn has been enthusiastically approved by Michael O’Leary, Dept of Education. “As National Co-ordinator of the Transition Year Programme I wholeheartedly support the initiative and will support its promotion in as many ways as possible. ….The Transition Year rational is ‘to promote the personal, social, vocational and educational development of students and to prepare them for their role as autonomous, participative and responsible members of society.”
Log on, Learn supports this rational in all of its components. For students and older people to work and learn from each others experiences, in the safe environs of the school, is to admired and encouraged. Both partners can benefit greatly from the experience and the interaction can only lead to a more caring and supportive community for all involved.”