Understanding the implications of changing capabilities for older ICT users
Our multi-disciplinary network combines expertise from such varied fields as psychology, computer science, information science, gerontology, learning, e-learning and skills development, e-services, disability and older people's organisations to bring powerful and innovative solutions to the research problem. Our network also includes close engagement with older people, as we believe that only with the active engagement of older people in the research can the factors involved in the transition of ICT user to non-user be adequately explored and understood.
This network received NDA funding and became the SUS_IT project
Leela Damodaran, Loughborough University
New ICT-based technologies have tremendous potential to enable older people to live independent, engaged and connected lives. Older people are the fastest growing sector of internet users and this trend is likely to continue as government and commercial service providers make efforts to engage older people in the 'digital world'. Older people who are confident and empowered users of ICTs stand to gain significant benefits from ICT for the full duration of their old age, if their use of ICT can effectively be sustained. A significant threat to this continued use of ICT by older people is their experience of changes in their capabilities and circumstances that may act as a barrier to their access of ICT. A key question for research, therefore, is how to support older people effectively to sustain ICT usage as their capabilities change, to avoid the limitation or curtailment of their ICT use and to continue to access the benefits that ICT can bring, so that they can continue to lead autonomous and independent lives.
A series of facilitated workshops have been undertaken, with the aim of enabling participants to share knowledge and experience, identifying knowledge gaps and research problems, building consensus about priorities and developing innovative and proactive ideas for future research and development. The network has been exploring ideas about the dynamic nature of ageing and ICT, and identifying exiting new ways of looking at older people's sustained engagement with ICT. Particular attention has been given to utilising ICT for communication amongst network participants, with use of collaborative software tools for effective network activity.
The network is well on the way to the formation of a research proposal based upon strong and exciting ideas to address the research question.