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Intergenerational Knowledge Exchange


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Background on the development of SeniorEngage, a European research project which aims to provide a social network for intergenerational knowledge exchange between retired and young professionals.

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Intergenerational Knowledge Exchange

  1. 1. SeniorEngage:Intergenerational knowledgeexchange – challenges andfindingsJennifer Woodard, Coordinator - SeniorEngage Eindhoven, September 28, 2012
  2. 2. “The new future of old age is aboutstaying in society, staying in theworkplace and staying very connected.And technology is going to be a very bigpart of that, because the new realityis, increasingly, a virtual reality. Itprovides a way to make newconnections, new friends and newsenses of purpose.”Joseph F. Coughlin, AgeLab, MIT 2 / Pages
  3. 3. The SENIORENGAGE ProjectThe Premise  Not everyone can stay in the workplace, but thanks to technology they can stay in their work SPACE. Continued connection with one’s profession can provide mental stimulation and psychological benefits.  Maintaining and creating new professional bonds with colleagues (young and older) after retirement is of great value for retaining a sense of identity.  Through intergenerational knowledge exchange and education, senior professionals provide can support to younger ones, and, in turn, seniors will continue to be involved in their profession contributing to their sense of self-worth. 3 / Pages
  4. 4. The SENIORENGAGE Project Context for the project: 2009 New research identified problems The rise of Web 2.0 and social networking faced by retirees: • After initial uptake by Gen X users, social• Increased isolation after retirement; networking was becoming “mainstream” breakdown of the social network and • Availability of open-source development everyday routines tools for deploying social networks for• Consequences: depression and other smaller groups psychological problems which in turn lead • Tide of new “silver surfers” – older to physical problems. people online. Still not using mainstream social networks. Other factors Other factors• Research showing the benefits of intergenerational learning in • Increased European Comission elderly. initiatives in the area of healthy aging and ICT.• Loss of valuable knowledge as elderly professionals leave the workforce; it isn’t passed on. 4 / Pages
  5. 5. The SeniorEngage Project Solution: A social network where younger professionals and older professionals share knowledge between generations.Sound simple? It’s a challenge.CHALLENGE 1: Creating a truly intergenerational platform.Step 1: Ascertain the real needs for both groups of users: young professionals and senior professionals. Senior professionals, both retired and near retirement. Younger users – what do they need? Development of scenarios, focus groups to discover real needs. 5 / Pages
  6. 6. The SeniorEngage ProjectCHALLENGE 1: Creating a truly intergenerational platform.Step 2: Ensure no one is left behind. There is no one size fits all intergenerational experience.- End- user training and involvement gives feedback that ensures that everyone will be able to use the tool: both young and old.- Considering caregivers in the retired professionals group . This is a different subset of retirees because while they are no longer working they are extremely occupied with caring for loved ones 24-hours a day. Their reasons for social isolation are two- fold and their risk level for depression was considered higher as caregiving limits their participation in the social network. 6 / Pages
  7. 7. The SeniorEngage ProjectCHALLENGE 1: Creating a truly intergenerational platform.Step 2: Ensure no one is left behind. Even those with no computer skills.- Workshops with endusers – to bring basic skills to users- Caregivers ranked their computer skills differently than seniors in general.- In addressing the Digital Divide: Online training materials and tutorials; Computer skills in senior test groups contextual help 7 / Pages
  8. 8. The SeniorEngage ProjectCHALLENGE 1: Creating a truly intergenerational platform.Step 3: Creating a platform that is highly usable for seniors but still attractive for younger usersMain considerations: Asked of young professionals: “The knowledge and skills of retired professionals in my domain of work is- Create an environment that doesn’t isolate still of high value.” (%) either group. Simple interface, not patronizing.- Consider the attractiveness of knowledge possessed by senior professionals according to young professionals. Is the knowledge of senior professionals valuable to them? This varied by country but results largely positive. Younger adults do want to interact and learn from senior mentors. Likeliness to want to learn from retired professionals (%). 8 / Pages
  9. 9. The SeniorEngage ProjectCHALLENGE 1: Creating a trulyintergenerational platform.Step 3: Creating a platform that is highlyusable for seniors but still attractive foryounger usersMain considerations:USABILITY – user-friendliness for seniors andASSISTIVE TECHNOLOGIES that don’t “get inthe way” of younger professionals’ userexperience on the platform who are “digitalnatives”Contextual Help for users who “get lost” inthe platform. Can easily be turned off forexperienced Internet users or those alreadyfamiliar with the platform. 9 / Pages
  10. 10. The SeniorEngage Project What Seniors Say:CHALLENGE 2: Battling prejudices and “My professional knowledge is misconceptions that hinder adoption. irrelevant because times have changed.”Step 1. Consider that some users, both young and older need help understanding the benefits “Younger people won’t be interested of intergenerational exchange. There are in what I have to share” fears and misconceptions. “My career was short so I don’t have a lot to offer” “I’m too old for this type of thing” 10 / Pages
  11. 11. The SeniorEngage ProjectWhat Young Professionals Say: What Seniors Say about Younger Professionals:“Seniors´ work experience can be very helpful toput theory into action and the knowledge of “Young people have fresh ideas and senior professionals should not be lost” the latest knowledge” “ I would love to exchange thoughts“ Knowledge and skills of retired professionals and views with younger are valuable for example in planning, people…”starting and executing new projects.” ”New from young people create vitality” “Young people are better educated so they can benefit my daily life” 11 / Pages
  12. 12. The SeniorEngage ProjectCHALLENGE 3: Responding to real market needs.Only by doing so can we ensure the uptake of the platform by both seniors and younger professionals.Step 1. Market research and Survey: “Attitudes and Behaviour of the Senior Population: Exploring the digital views of the aging population” – Microlink PCKey findings:Barriers hindering seniors’ usage of online resources• Too expensive and see no need – fear of the unknown• Have poor technological skills, too complex, inaccessible• Deteriorating cognitive, physical and sensory capabilities• Information overload, spam, viruses etc.Seniors’ use of social networks• Around 80% of 55-74 year olds send/receive emails, but only 20% use theInternet for VOIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) and around 18% post messagesto chat sites, blogs and social networking sites.• But older users are underrepresented in comparison to the general populationon social networking sites. 12 / Pages
  13. 13. The SeniorEngage ProjectCHALLENGE 4: Creating a truly European platform.Step 1. Consider that the social reality for seniors (and even younger users) is not the same in all European countries. To that end, end users were recruited in various countries in the consortium.Examples:• Finnish seniors were less likely to talk about their professions in their daily life after retirement and many consider their professional life “the past”. In the case of Spain, seniors are much more likely to continue to talk about their profession.• Only a third of Finnish seniors wanted to be a mentor for younger colleagues, while the Finnish Retired Professionals corresponding number in Austria was 77%. 13 / Pages
  14. 14. The SeniorEngage ProjectCHALLENGE 4: Creating a truly European platform.Step 2. Consider that cross- border, cross-cultural learning will enhance the experience. However, language is an issue that needs to be dealt with (dealt with through technology?) How to make the experience more natural for seniors? This hasn’t been dealt with well even in mainstream social networks like Facebook. 14 / Pages
  15. 15. The SENIORENGAGE ProjectConclusions- Know the market is different in different countries and even within the same country (e.g. caregivers)- Foster engagement via a topic that younger and older generations have in common – their professions (and hobbies)- Design for usability of BOTH target audiences – younger and older adults- Consider accesibility tools and assistive technologies that don’t get in the way of the user experience- Battle misconceptions and prejudices through training with end users and awareness. 15 / Pages
  16. 16. The SENIORENGAGE Project Thank you! Twitter: @seniorengage 16 / Pages