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Generational Gap in Technology

Updated: Sep 18, 2023

By Sean Connick : Published: 15th September 2023

I was watching Bluey with my son for those who don't know “Bluey” is a popular Australian animated children's TV series that features the adventures of a cute Blue Heeler puppy named Bluey and her family. The show is known for its heartwarming stories, humour, and life lessons, making it a favorite among kids and adults alike. One particular episode got me thinking about why it is important to make sure technology is accessible and the importance of not leaving anyone behind.

In the "Phones" episode of "Bluey," the story revolves around Bluey and Bingo's desire to play a game of restaurants with their Grandad. However, this imaginative game takes an unexpected twist as Grandad realizes that things have changed since his time. To order food in their pretend restaurant, Grandad suggests he'd need an app, not the traditional way he remembers.

This moment highlights the generation gap between the kids and their grandparents, where the younger generation is more accustomed to modern technology and smartphones. Grandad's unfamiliarity with these digital tools becomes a source of humour in the episode as he grapples with the idea of using an app for something as simple as ordering food in a pretend game.

As the story unfolds, Bluey and Bingo's attempts to introduce Grandad to the concept of using a smartphone app lead to humorous and endearing interactions, demonstrating how technology can bridge generational gaps and create opportunities for shared experiences, even in the world of make-believe play. The episode ultimately underscores the importance of adaptability and the bonds between different generations within a family.Source.

It is well worth checking out the realistic portrayal of later-life learners struggling and then adopting technology. Let's examine the ratio of older adult learners and the percentage of them who are studying online. Additionally, we should consider what must be done to ensure that online education provided is accessible and enjoyable.

According to research from the European Commission, 11% of adults in the bloc would consider themselves lifelong learners and would reenter formal education, such as a community college.Source.

It is important to consider the difference between reentering a formal educational establishment and those who consider themselves willing to learn new things. For example, one study suggests that 73% of adults consider themselves lifelong learners in America.Source.

For further reading, we recommend exploring The 5th Global Report on Adult Learning and Education, titled “Citizenship Education: Empowering Adults for Change” a short summary of its key points can be found below. Source.

Empowering Citizenship: The report highlights that adult education plays a crucial role in empowering individuals to actively participate in democratic processes, exercise their civic rights, and contribute positively to their communities.

Lifelong Learning: It underscores the importance of lifelong learning as a means to develop critical thinking skills, adapt to societal changes, and foster a sense of civic responsibility throughout one's life.

Civic Education: The report emphasizes the need for civic education programs that equip adults with knowledge and skills to engage in informed decision-making, understand social issues, and actively participate in public life.

Policy Support: To promote adult education and citizenship education, the report calls for the development of supportive policies at the national and international levels, as well as increased investment in adult learning initiatives.

Global Issues: It recognizes the role of adult education in addressing global challenges, such as climate change, poverty, and social inequality, by fostering informed and engaged citizens who can contribute to solutions.

Overall, the report highlights the transformative potential of adult education in shaping active and engaged citizens who can bring about positive change in their societies and address pressing global issues.

There is clearly tremendous potential for later-life learners, but what are some of the possible challenges they may face?

Adult learners often face a multitude of responsibilities such as family, work, and travel commitments. This makes the rigid structure of traditional classroom-based learning less than ideal. Finding time for learning can be challenging but is of utmost importance. Efficiency and flexibility are essential. This is why institutions that offer adaptable schedules are an excellent choice for adult learners. Distance learning provides a swift and efficient way to acquire necessary skills, backed by tutors who understand that personal obligations can sometimes hinder the learning process.

Adult learners may encounter motivation issues when learning out of necessity rather than personal interest, especially when juggling various responsibilities. It is crucial to select courses with engaging content that can be immediately applied to one's professional needs. The advantage for adult learners lies in their intrinsic motivation to learn; they have clear reasons for acquiring specific skills and knowledge.

Many adult learners return to education to stay competitive in the job market or advance their careers. This can lead to significant pressure, both self-imposed and from those relying on their expertise. Returning to studies represents a substantial investment in terms of time and money. However, adult learners often bring relevant life experiences and focused goals, which are key to their success.

Going back to learning after a hiatus can be challenging, especially when several years have passed or if previous educational experiences were less than ideal. However, returning to education doesn't necessarily mean returning to a traditional school setting. Adult learners who struggle with classroom-based learning have alternatives. While balancing studies with other commitments might slow down the learning process, it can lead to a more comprehensive understanding of the subject matter. Distance learning, with its abundance of online courses, is a popular choice among adult learners seeking additional qualifications.

Adult learners often have established routines and can be resistant to change. Life experiences and maturity can influence their learning style and sometimes lead to hesitance in accepting new ideas. It's true that learning speed may decrease with age, but depth of understanding increases, allowing adults to apply knowledge and skills effectively. Adult learners recognize the direct relevance of learning to their lives and excel in practical problem-solving. Furthermore, continuous learning enhances cognitive abilities, potentially increasing learning speed with practice.Source.

But how can tech help with these challenges?

  • Enhancing Educator Efficiency: Ed-tech tools should empower educators by saving time and resources. Features like AI grading not only reduce grading time but also help identify areas needing improvement. Learning maps assist instructors in guiding students according to their comprehension levels.

  • Flexible Learning: Adult learners often juggle busy lives, making traditional classroom attendance challenging. Ed-tech solutions, such as video conferencing and mobile lessons, offer the flexibility needed for remote and self-paced learning.

  • Engagement through Relevance: To maintain adult learners' interest, the curriculum should align with their goals. Mobile and computer games can simulate real-life skill applications. User-friendly interfaces for tech-savvy adults, with help from their children, can boost motivation. A streamlined Learning Management System (LMS) can simplify the learning process.

  • Building a Learning Community: Creating a supportive community is vital. Tools like discussion boards, social media groups, and group chats foster collaboration and motivation among adult learners. Collaborative learning tools promote problem-solving and group participation.

  • Real-Life Application: Aligning the curriculum with practical skills empowers learners to apply their knowledge in real-world scenarios. Immersive technologies like Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) provide hands-on experiences. Dynamic Open Educational Resources replace static textbooks for on-the-job knowledge.Source.

It is beyond all doubt the power education has to improve the lives of those who continue their development in later life. Several key points stick out: high numbers of people wish to continue their self-development, and tech has to play a supporting role in helping fulfill their ambitions and life balance. But it is also clear that any offering must be inclusive of everyone's computer literacy, from experts to novices.

Time is quickly running out to enter the 2023 Digital Education Awards, with less than 63 days to go!


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