The obvious lack of Internet education programmes for senior citizens in Poland resulted in the development of the action and the establishment of a complex Internet education program for seniors: the Akademia e-Seniora. Since 2006, more than 1200 senior citizens participated in the free program, provided in 10 key Polish cities through UPCâ€™s Internet Studios. The project was developed and implemented by UPC Polandâ€™s employees with huge support from a local polish no-governmental organization, Academy for the Development of Philanthropy.
The Polish economy is currently undergoing rapid economic development. Meanwhile, computer penetration, technology literacy and general awareness of the potential of the Internet are still low. This excludes many sectors of society from the opportunities and benefits the Internet offers. Poland lacks a wide Internet education offer for seniors, the problem of e-exclusion among seniors was not generally noted except for a number of organizations grouping seniors (e.g. Universities of the Third Age, Forum 50+) which however did not organize activities on a national, wide scale.
UPC Polandâ€™s program is part of Liberty Globalâ€™s eInclusion community investment program, IN the Community, which promotes digital inclusivity by widening access, enhancing skills and creating opportunities for the communities where it operates.
Description of target users and groups
The project addresses 50+ seniors who to date did not have the opportunity to learn how to use Internet, the e-excluded. Profile of participants of the e-Senior Academy Research conducted by UPC Poland during courses present an interesting profile. Participants in the courses have higher (41%), or middle level education (36%), they are optimists (82%) actively spending their free time. The majority of the participants are no longer professionally active. Most of them are women (67 % compared to 33 % of men). Access to information is important for 95% of respondents, 83% regularly read newspapers and magazines.
Description of the way to implement the initiative
The program is being evaluated through questionnaires addressed to course participants, partners â€“ centers where the courses are organized and company employees involved in the program. We have a strong commitment to improve the program, its development, cooperation with other organizations. We are drawing attention to the problem of e-exclusion â€“ presenting the problem during conferences, organization of debate on the topic.
Conventional technology is being used with a specifically developed textbook and website which becomes a future point of reference for the participants.
Main results, benefits and impacts
The course program was prepared especially for seniors. The full course lasts 16 hours, conducted by qualified instructors. Seniors learn, among other things, about computers and internet, how to find information on the Internet, send emails, and use communicators.
Special learning tools were developed and are available to course participants: printed textbook and dedicated web http://www.akademiaeseniora.pl/
The Internet education program is completed by the e-Senior Clubs (under development) that function in UPCâ€™s studios on specific weekdays. The offer is addressed to all those who do not have computers with Internet access and who do not want to lose information learned during the courses.
Courses are held in 12 UPC Internet studios in 10 cities in Poland. The studios serve to propagate Internet, especially among the e-excluded. Partners in the project include non-government organizations, public institutions and cooperatives. In general they already house various courses and are known for serving local communities.
To date - more than 1200 participants in the courses of the Akademia e-Seniora. Great demand, as many as 8-10 persons per one place.
Return on investment
Return on investment: Not applicable / Not available
Track record of sharing
A pilot initiative addressed to seniors was developed by UPC Poland into a national initiative within a few months as an answer to the overwhelming demand and social need. During the course of a year the educational program was improved, implemented, activities undertaken to popularize the program in different environments etc.
Lesson 1 - There is a strong need and demand to support seniors in their e-inclusion. Seniors, contrary to adopted stereotypes, want to learn about ICT and use it in a daily basis. They key is to provide them with the opportunity. Seniors are active and do not want to be left behind. They appreciate the role of technology, and are extremely grateful for the support offered to them.
Lesson 2 - Great value of the courses for participants and society. The courses stimulate personal development, build self-esteem, allow for more efficient communication, and reduce loneliness.
Lesson 3 - Internet is a great tool for linking generations, through (1) bringing seniors together, (2) building bridges and relationships, (3) strengthening the role of seniors in families (seniors are slowly loosing their positions in todayâ€™s world of technology), (4) helping form vibrant communities and (5) to find stimulate a meaningful and productive time during retirement.
Lesson 4 - Effective example of public private partnership between a commercial company - UPC - and the Budapest Cultural Center as well as community centres. This PPP gives an additional value to the program and makes it more professional and credible.