MEVA - Living Memory (MEVA)

Published on: 13/05/2010

The main objective of the project was a study on the ICT learning process concerning adults over 50 years old  living in rural areas and having therefore difficulties in getting familiar with technologies, due to their geographical and socio-economic circumstances. The project was lead by the Barcelona Provincial Council (Diputació de Barcelona) and realised with the collaboration of public and private institutions from Poland, Sweden, Austria and Spain.

The main purpose was therefore to identify the digital literacy experiences of the above mentioned category of senior adults and to determine the learning methodologies used; to achieve this result, the project was developed in the following phases:

  • Identification of ICT learning projects targeting at adults leaving in rural areas;
  • Establishment of a Europe-wide framework on digital literacy for this target group;
  • Identification, dissemination and evaluation of the best practices of the identified projects and methodologies;
  • Identification of the ICT skills of the target group;
  • Dissemination of the project results and objective through a web-site created to this extent;
  • Promotion of the creation of a European network of rural municipalities to share strategies on digital literacy for senior citizens;
  • Promotion of actions that ensure project sustainability.

Policy Context

Education and training are decisive factors in achieving economic growth, increased competitiveness and social inclusion. Adult learning in this context, apart from contributing to personal development and achievement, is having an increasingly important role in national reform programmes in all European countries, but such programs would normally focus on young citizens only.  

To reach the participation rate of the quota established by the Member States of the European Union within the framework of the programme "Education and Training 2010", four million adults need to have participated in Lifelong Learning by 2010 but the education of senior citizens has not always received the attention it deserves; this contradiction between policies and reality has become very evident. In this context, the E-learning

programme from the European Union promotes projects and research on the subject area to help improve awareness about the situation and create an integration methodology for ICT that facilitates the digital inclusion process. The project Living Memory was conceived in this context.

Description of target users and groups

Adults over 50 years old living in rural areas and having therefore difficulties in getting familiar with technologies, due to their geographical and socio-economic circumstances.

Impact on the specific target group(s)

The MEVA project is aimed at people over than 50 years old who live in rural areas in Europe and who find it difficult to use ICT. Nevertheless, we think that the results of MEVA project will be very useful for the organizations which work in digital literacy projects, like public Administrations, ICT centres or lifelong learning centres.

We have seen that the main impact has been and will also in the future be different in different Countries. For example, in Barcelona Province, there will be a real chance to influence on a level that will make a difference because Diputació de Barcelona, a regional Government, will be able advises more than 300 Town Halls when they need implement methodologies for digital literacy projects. In Sweden, it already has diversity and it is possible via the main organizations to have an impact on the methodology that is already in use by e.g. the SeniorNet and in Popular Adult Education, but it will not be easy in many other European Countries without major support from the European Commission. Although, it has brought the questions to the forefront once again in all partner Countries. The project has brought up the question in a positive way, not just by complaining. It has identified abilities and essential skills as well as didactic tools required to support ICT-learning for people over 50 and it has shown a range of "best practice", methods and solutions and documented them.

Description of the way to implement the initiative

The project has been structured into three main stages: identifying practices, selecting the most relevant experiences for the study, and finally, analysing the work methodologies and taking a pedagogic approach to the experiences analysed.

In the initial phase of the project a common reference vocabulary has been established, this to develop an internal protocol among the participants and, at the same time, to reflect the differences between the various participating regions; from this common conception framework, the first stage of the project started with the investigation of ICT programmes or projects being carried out. Internet was an essential tool in this phase and in the dissemination and communication phases.

To obtain consistent information on the ICT use experiences was a complex task as such experiences are often disperse; another major issue was to distinguish the information concerning ICT for adult from the ones focusing on senior citizens; to overcome this problem, different sources were used, from specialised bibliography and search engines to the direct contact with local partner or television programs.

Once possible experiences and projects were identified in each country, a questionnaire was created to collect information on basic aspects Information related to the project's promoting body: type of body/entity, number of people working on the project, objectives and main activities involved;

  • Information concerning the project itself: objectives, number of people involved, results obtained, tools created, type of funding, etc.
  • Information on territory and target groups: number of participants, age, geographic location, etc.

Once gathered all the relevant information, a second questionnaire was sent to those projects that fell within the target group defined for the project (second phase of the project). The main objective of this second questionnaire was to find out more information about the methodology used in the different projects and experiences. This initial approach was followed by an in-depth analysis of each selected project, and the project members spoke directly with the persons in charge of the projects in question. Based on the results obtained, a number of analysis criteria were agreed, these allowing to make a comparison of experiences and draw up the conclusions of the study (third phase).

Technology solution

As anticipated, the project ran in different European countries and led to the use of different IT tools and approach; for experiences in Spain (Catalonia, Asturias, Extremadura, Andalucía and Aragon), the support materials created for adults were very diverse: a certain typology of material was released for self-learning purposes (CD-ROM, video cassettes, audio cassettes etc.) and occasionally internet was used as a communication tool between participants.

In some projects, video-conference systems were used to facilitate the collaboration among people located in different cities. In Sweden on the contrary distance learning (video course, CD instructions etc.) was not very frequent and some users needed the physical presence of the trainer to acquire basic skills.

In Austria, various means of communication were used, depending on the level of previous knowledge; E-learning courses could be used only by students having basic IT knowledge; this group of users could make use of more advanced collaborative tools like SKYPE, e-mail, and forums. Finally in Poland, the ICT learning materials were very diverse: CD-ROM, computer games, internet, audio cassettes, but mostly, manuals.

Technology choice: Standards-based technology

Main results, benefits and impacts

  • Definitions of the main concepts regarding the digital literacy;
  • Indicators to select and analyze the best digital literacy projects of five European rural areas;
  • Comparative analysis of the results obtained regarding the digital literacy projects identified of five European rural areas;
  • Indicators to select and analyze the best digital literacy methodologies of five European rural areas;
  • Identification of the essential for adults over 50 years old taking part in a project of digital literacy;
  • Opinions of the experts of different European Countries regarding the methodologies identified;
  • Comparative analysis of the results obtained regarding the digital literacy methodologies identified of five European rural areas;
  • The best practices of digital literacy projects and methodologies identified; Training courses of adults over 50 in Austria and Poland;
  • Pilot test with adults over 50 to identify the digital skills of them in Spain, Austria, Poland and Sweden;
  • Start meeting of MEVA project;
  • First International Seminar in Barcelona;
  • Second International Seminar in Barcelona; Final International Conference in Barcelona;
  • Exhibition named "Physical Exhibition" where it showed all the information related with digital literacy that the partners of MEVA and the Organizations of the identified projects contributed to the Final Conference.

Did the project meet its targets in terms of outcomes?

a) Targets (objectives) regarding the work plan

The evaluator partner of MEVA project, Nova Distance (ND) of Sweden, has analyzed this question in the Final Evaluation Report. It attaches some paragraphs of this Report which answer this question:

Comparing the project aims, target group and goals as well as the results, the MEVA project is perfectly in line with the "Recommendations of the European Parliament and of the Council of the 18th December 2006 on key competences for Life Long Learning.

The project has been focusing on the main objectives stated in the life long learning framework for adult people over 50 years old. The results will be available for transfer and copying by other member states and the documentation will also constitute a small part of a reference tool on the European level for policy makers, education providers, employers, and learners themselves to facilitate national and European level efforts towards commonly-agreed objectives. The goals of the project application have been fulfilled without any problem.

The implementation of the project's results became anchored in the meeting in Radom and it has been showed in the last part of the work. Evidence to this fact is to be found in the answers in the third evaluation questionnaire about sustainability. It seems that the results of the project's work and results has been almost better than expected because of the positive response that has been showed in seminars and workshops held by the partners in different regions in different Countries. The project's issues have stimulated debate and have also been noted by politicians and decision-makers.

Several "best practices" has been identified and some, where we particularly can see common results and an interest in all Countries, are very important for transferability.

The main impact has been and will also in the future be different in different Countries. But in all partner Countries it has brought the questions to the forefront once again. This project has been a reminder about a major arising situation; lots of old people without ICT skills leads to the exclusion of large groups in the society of today. It is a democratic issue but it is also a question about human rights and equal opportunities for all.

The project has brought up the question in a positive way, not just by complaining. It has identified abilities and essential skills as well as didactic tools required to support ICT-learning for old people and it has shown a range of "best practice", methods and solutions and documented them. The exchange of experiences has been stimulating but also sometimes difficult because of different systems, different structures, cultures and "traditions" that exist in our Countries. The question for tomorrow in Europe is not just to solve these questions in a project-based way, it will need major investments and innovative strategies taken on political levels in the different regions in Europe. The project is contributing by showing ways that are accessible. To implement this knowledge will save money and shorten the time to realize good action plans.

b) Second, the Achievements of targets regarding the work plan

The documents "Milestones"of the project and Section 3.3 "Review of Work Plan" of this Final Report  show the wide and very ambitious activity that has characterized this project.

Track record of sharing

What was the overall contribution of the transnational work?

First of all and according to the opinion of the evaluator partner there was a good collaboration in the partnership has been expressed by all the partners at all the meetings. Of course, the small delays and some single misunderstandings have sometimes led to frustration and many e-mails but the overall atmosphere has been very open and friendly. The meetings have shown really good relations and new friendships have been established. 

The contribution of the transnational work to the project has been realized through the following activities: two international seminars, the final conference, the creation of the European Network and the exchange opinions through the MEVA website. We have could exchange opinions and agree results in each meeting. Besides, each partner has invited two experts about digital literacy or about methodologies in each international seminar. Finally, we have could visit different digital literacy projects in each country where we have organized an international seminar. It can see the description and the achievement of all these previous activities in the Section 3.3. Review of Project Workplan of this Final Report.

We think that the most important value of transnational activities was that all partners have done and participated in all activities of this project. The workplan of the project was divided in four workpackages and each partner was the responsible of one of this workpackage. Nevertheless, each partner has participated in all activities of the four workpackages. It has been a very important value of this project because we have could exchange the results of all the activities that all partners have done. For example, we have exchange the identified digital literacy projects and methodologies, the ICT skills of adults over 50, the best practices, the indicators to select this best practices and so on.  We think that if we have not worked of this way we have not could get so results. Definitively, we have know the present situation of the digital literacy in our country but also in other European Countries and we have could transfer the best practices of the other Countries.

We think that due to the fact that we have worked hereby all the partners have realized a great effort and a good results have been obtained at the end of the project.

Finally, the creation of the European Network has been also a very important value of this transnational work because 36 public and private Organizations of different European Countries have exchanged opinions related with the digital literacy.


Lessons learnt

The Living Memory project has allowed the project partners to have a clear overview of the current Situation concerning ICT and senior citizens and of the needs and types of methodologies being used; ICT skills for senior citizens are not just a question of techniques or methodology; they are a question of democracy and inclusion and in this sense, the experiences analysed showed the importance of incorporating ICTs into the daily lives of adult persons to allow them to live independently in today's society. Daily life, communication and finding information are based on ICT tools; their lack of knowledge means that a part of the population would be excluded from a democratic society. ICT centres play therefore an important role, since they have a social meaning and their dissemination is vital.

The role of the facilitators has been proven to be fundamental in this context; s/he must have basic ICT skills, empathy, ability to listen, knowledge of the different ways of learning and ability to deal with the diversity of each users.

The project has identified abilities and essential skills, as well as didactic tools required to support ICT-learning for old people, and it has shown a range of "best practices", methods and solutions and documented them. The exchange of experiences has been stimulating, but also somewhat difficult because of thedifferences in systems, structures, cultures and "traditions" found in the different countries.

Scope: Pan-European