The goal of the project is to create a learning system focused on senior citizens that runs on mobile devices and downloads open learning content from an online platform. The system will integrate different media formats and interactivity into an innovative “micro unit” format suited even for small screen devices such as smartphones and easy enough to be used intuitively.
Europe is transforming into a knowledge society that increasingly relies on information delivered through computers and mobile technology devices. However, senior citizens form a large part of society that mostly lacks the required skills to participate in this development. This situation creates a group of disadvantaged citizens and contributes to the digital divide of European society.However, this imbalance also means lost opportunities, as technology can offer many ways of improving quality of life, especially for senior citizens. Since many older people have mobility issues, technology can keep them connected. This in turn would offer the opportunity of opening a door to learning, staying active and mentally fit, and preventing isolation and loneliness.This is the project goal of OPALESCE. The partners will create an easy approach for senior citizens to participate in online learning. The approach will consist of courses with detailed course material as well as an online platform that can deliver learning materials in a simple yet effective way.
The consortium includes partners from Germany, Portugal, Greece and Cyprus.
The kick-off meeting of the OPALESCE project was organized on the 26th and 27th of February 2015 in Almeirim, Portugal.
All partners expressed their satisfaction and willingness to work towards the successful implementation of the project, which support the work that is already being done for senior citizens.
The project partners of OPALESCE
The five project partners come from four different countries: Portugal, Germany, Cyprus and Greece.
Project coordinator: Portugal
RUTIS (Universities of the Third Age Network Association), Almeirim, Portugal
Project partner: Germany
Ingenious Knowledge (SME) Köln, Germany
Universität Paderborn, Paderborn, Germany
Project partner: Cyprus
Private Institute Emphasys Centre, Nicosia, Cyprus
Project partner: Greece
NATIONAL CENTER FOR SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH “DEMOKRITOS”, Athens, Greece
Aims and Objectives
The aim of the project OPALESCE
To create a distance learning system that senior citizens with no previous computer experience can learn in 1 hour and implementing it in a way that attracts a large number of users and content providers. The distance learning system will be extremely simple to use, and it will run on mobile touch-screen devices such as tablets and smartphones. By the end of the project it will be able to run on its own as a free system open to anyone. While it will be especially useful to senior citizens with decreasing mobility, the system can also be used by anyone and might lead to more mobile learning. In addition the consortium intends to develop an introduction course to the system for senior citizens with no computer experience. The goal is to give groups most affected by the digital divide the opportunity to learn how to use modern technological devices and through the distance learning system open a gateway to further lifelong learning and a learning community.
Objectives for reaching these aims and goals are:
• Creating a didactical concept for using distance learning most efficiently. The concept will deal with the question of how senior citizens learn and how learning content can be presented on mobile devices like smart phone screens. It will also analyse options for interactive engagement of learners (small feedback tests after each section).
• Creating a handbook for content developers. The handbook will guide developers through creating learning content and making it available.
• Creating the server side of the distance learning system. The central server is an essential component for making the learning content available.
• Creating the client side of the distance learning system. Apart from making the system accessible through a web browser the consortium will focus on creating mobile apps on smartphones and tablets.
• Getting content providers involved. In first talks several organisations have expressed interest in creating learning content (like medical advice, nutrition advice, etc…) for free and offer it through the system. The consortium will find more external partners once the system is running.
• Getting learners involved. Through extensive dissemination and exploitation activities the consortium will get learners involved.
• Creating a sustainable structure. The consortium will have to find a way to support the system after the project ends. The project members are expecting to find a solution like a paid content model but everyone is open to alternative ideas and opportunities that will arise during the project.
Reaching the aims and objectives will create a situation in which disadvantaged groups will not only have easy access to a system that teaches them the basics of using mobile phones or tablets, but also provides them with a tool for continuous lifelong learning despite their mobility issues. In practice senior citizens would most likely be supported by family members or teachers who can also provide the technical devices at first and introduce them to the OPALESCE distance learning system. Therefore the OPALESCE project would be a big step in combating the digital divide of European society.