University Of Tasmania
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Third age learners and ICT : training and support issues

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posted on 2023-05-26, 18:44 authored by Hazzlewood, JM
An increasing number of older adults joining the third age of active retirement are learning to use computers to access information and communication technology (ICT) for a variety of intrinsic and extrinsic reasons. This thesis describes a three year research study of a group of such men and women, aged fifty and older, who live in a regional Australian community. Answers are sought to the questions how, when, where, why or why not these older adults are learning to use computers and to access the Internet in later life. The primary focus is on the effect that available and affordable training and support has on the gaining of the skills necessary to achieve the ICT literacy that is required to function in a rapidly changing technological globalised society. The study seeks to identify the factors which foster or inhibit both the uptake and the continuing use of those aspects of computer generated technology which match the needs, interests and aspirations of third age learners living longer lives in an economically and socially advantaged society such as Australia. The implications of the study to a range of stakeholders are both social and economic, as older adults enter the third age of active retirement earlier and remain there longer and seek to learn about and via new technology by choice or from necessity. The background to the research project is sketched, seminal and recent theoretical and practical research literature and government policy reports are reviewed. The results of data gathered during this study are discussed and opportunities for further research are indicated. The qualitative natural ethnographic research methodology chosen employs semi-structured interviews, participant observation, focus groups, case studies and document examination. A series of filters were employed in an attempt to assess the nature, the extent and the use made of the new knowledge and skills acquired. The initial coding of the data resulted in a broad grouping of participants into early and later adopters of ICT. A further categorising within these groups led to the development of the concept of adult lateracy (Hazzlewood 2004), which identifies two-dimensional and three-dimensional ICT uptake and use. The main findings from this study relate to adult learning theory, research and practice in general and, since the advent of the Internet, about the transfer of these adult learning concepts to third age ICT learning. Other findings relate to more specific aspects of the available and affordable ICT training and ongoing support offered to older adults, and to the implications for a range of stakeholders. Volunteer service human capital is found to contribute to the well being of the individual learners, their families and friends, as well as adding social capital to both the local and the wider community. The study, however, finds a lack of relevance and effectiveness of a training and support system for older adults dependent almost entirely on dedicated but largely untrained peer volunteer contribution. Implications for policy makers and keepers of the public purse are indicated as an urgent need is identified for the adoption of a broad strategic approach to equitable 'age neutral' (Stretton 2005) training and support. This need for a vision for the future, which is designed to include rather than exclude older adults, is critical as the age imbalance is marked by global greying.


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Copyright 2006 the Author - The University is continuing to endeavour to trace the copyright owner(s) and in the meantime this item has been reproduced here in good faith. We would be pleased to hear from the copyright owner(s). Thesis (PhD)--University of Tasmania, 2006. Includes bibliographical references

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