After two years the EU sponsored â€śThe Knowledge Volunteersâ€ť (TKV) project is coming to an end. Created to promote digital literacy skills amongst elderly people it has seen a series of courses and activities during this time. These focused on countries where large groups of the population above the age of 60 have so far been shy of taking the hurdle to tackling computer technology. Now, for the closing of the project, both organizers and participants will come together for the â€śKnowledge Volunteers Awardâ€ť in Rome.
The program was designed to provide a hands on experience for IT-skills on topics relevant for everyday life of elderly people, for example staying in touch with family members who have moved away for work reasons. Not only did this approach allow to clearly define common learning goals for all courses across the different countries but also left enough space for the attention of individual needs and interests which is an essential aspect of adult education. In addition each participant was rewarded with a certificate at the end of the course providing further motivation to participate.
The project itself was carried out in three steps. To start with, digital literacy courses were provided by young volunteers. These youngsters took on the task of introducing the elderly into the world of computers â€“ starting with the very basics, such as turning on and shutting down the computer after usage, and then moving on to more complex tasks, such as writing Emails or viewing digital photos on the computer.
Secondly the creation of a knowledge volunteers network that included a combination of young and elderly volunteers. While the young volunteers continued to tutor the elderly on a higher level these were already able to train other beginners on basic skills.
The third step of the digital literacy courses were based on a peer-to-peer methodology were interested elders who had successfully participated in the training took the lead in teaching new beginners. Some young people remained on board to provide additional guidance for more difficult topics.
This concept of intergenerational exchange has been considered a big success by all participants, as not only the elderly learned important computer skills from the youngsters, but also the youngsters profited strongly from the life experience of their students.
Now, on the 26th of September the fourth and last event, the â€śKnowledge Volunteers Awardâ€ť competition will take place. During this closing ceremony one outstanding elderly volunteer from each country will be rewarded with this special certificate. This is also the perfect opportunity for all parties to exchange their experiences and to reflect on the main achievements of the program.
For the Swiss organization ICV, which had a supporting role, it is however clear that the project has already strongly contributed towards generating a more friendly volunteering environment across Europe.
The countries and partners of the project in which the project took place: