Older people know the challenges of using technology later in life, and may be best at providing the continuing support needed for its adoption. Demonstrations and short courses are seldom enough.
The report Ageing and the Use of the Internet says Older technology champions may offer an alternative way (to inter-generational learning) to approach the coaching of older users.
The report Simple things, done well, commissioned by the Nominet Trust from Policy Exchange, recommends setting up a UK wide network of older, tech savvy people who would be paid to go into peoples homes and community centres to teach them how to use the internet to make digital transactions such as renewing a driving licence or paying a utility bill.
Those working in the field emphasise the need for more than a one-off course, making the role of helpers who can provide continuing support doubly important. The Age Action Alliance has developed the Digital Champions Capacity Building Framework for champions working at different levels: the formal role of the professional, employed to provide help; the informal helper who has a passion for digital technology; and the spontaneous helper who may be friend or family, helping out when needed. Emma Solomon, managing director of Digital Unite, writes in the framework paper:
Challenge: how can we promote and support the work of older people as digital champions in a way that is sustainable.\ Comments, resources and links to ideas on Storify - and embedded below\ View the story “9 Value the role that older people may have in acting as digital technology champions” on Storify