Older people becoming successful ICT learners over time: challenges and strategies through an ethnographical lens

Sergio Sayago*, Paula Forbes, Josep Blat

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

18 Citations (Scopus)


A growing ageing population and an increasing reliance on information and communication technologies (ICT) to conduct activities associated with daily living means that addressing how older people learn to use ICT is timely and important. By drawing on a four-year ethnographical study with 420 older people in two different environments, this paper shows that they adopt three strategies to become successful ICT learners, while at the same time dealing with the effects of age-related changes in fluid memory: (a) linking learning to real-life needs, (b) learning collaboratively and informally, and (c) adopting appropriate memory aids. This paper also addresses the question of how valid these results will be when today's ICT-literate adult people grow older. The longitudinal aspect of the data gathered shows that older people become confident ICT learners over time, that the learning strategies and cognitive-related difficulties are mostly time-persistent, and that their life experience is always important in learning transfer. Implications for providing older people with a more integrated approach to ICT learning are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)527-544
Number of pages18
JournalEducational Gerontology
Issue number7
Early online date29 Apr 2013
Publication statusPublished - 2013
Externally publishedYes


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