Hyperlinking the Generations
“Hyper-Linking the Generations” is an intergenerational program and curriculum offered by Older Adults Technology Services (OATS) to New York City schools and community centers. The innovative program combines a program for youth with a community-based technology training program for older adults, providing unique opportunities for cross-age interaction, collaborative learning, and concrete skills development for all participants.
Program highlights include:
- High school students learning research, communications, and teaching skills to help older adults with technology.
- Senior citizens gain computer skills in areas such as Internet usage, email, online safety, online banking, online health research, shopping on the web, and blogs.
- Youth and seniors collaborate in a supportive, mutually beneficial environment, learning to overcome age stereotypes and communicate more effectively across the generations.
The curriculum provides students with workshops that help them understand the “technology gap” that confronts many older adults today and provides structured lessons for learning strategies and techniques to teach technology skills to older adults. Class discussions focus on the distinctive experience that senior citizens often have with technology and the burdens of isolation, diminished health information, and reduced civic engagement that are often the result of digital exclusion.
Supplemented by selected brief readings and interviews with seniors, these discussions help students re-examine the role of technology in their social environments. Email, digital telecommunications, and the Internet come to be understood as forces that shape the distribution of important benefits in modern society—benefits that are not available equally to all citizens. This understanding of the perspective of older adults on technology serves as a point of departure for the central theme of the course: “How can we communicate and teach technology concepts and skills in a way that is appropriate for older adults?”
The young participants spend the bulk of the program exploring such themes as:
- What expectations and fears do older adults commonly have when learning about technology?
- What makes educational material relevant to a particular audience?
- What is the best format and instructional method to present technology lessons to older learners?
Students gain immediate practical skills in applying their learning as they design and create a “Technology Teach-In” for the older adults at the end of the program. In addition to providing concrete information and skills for the older participants, students will develop critical tools for public speaking, writing, and visual presentation of information as a result of their participation in the program.
Youth Facilitator Profile
OATS works with youth facilitators at partner organizations. Youth facilitators are enthusiastic about and comfortable with technology and motivated to bring youth and seniors together around technology issues. Using the OATS curriculum, the youth facilitator guides the youth to better understand seniors and their relation to technology, and learn how to communicate and teach technology to seniors.
The program is best suited to high school juniors and seniors who are functioning at or above grade level and are able to interact well with individuals outside of their peer group, particularly senior citizens. Students should have an interest in one or more of the following: technology, teaching, community service, senior citizens.
Senior participants are generally interested in receiving training in computers and the Internet, willing to work with high school students, and committed to the entire OATS course.
If your school, senior center or community center would like to participate in the program, or find out more, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 718-360-1707.
Support for Hyper-Linking the Generations is generously provided by the United Way of New York City, the New York Community Trust, Independence Community Foundation and JPMorgan Chase.