Technology and Aging: Using the Internet to Support Lifelong Learning Opportunities

network-782707_1280As we have discussed in previous blogs, studies have shown that lifelong learning has many benefits including: increased knowledge and critical thinking skills, improved health and well-being, longer life span, greater likelihood of community and civic engagement, increased creativity, and greater self-fulfillment.

For older adults that may be unable to attend traditional classroom settings, museums, and art galleries (due to mobility or transportation issues among other contributing factors) the Internet is filled with endless opportunities to engage in new learning experiences. To increase accessibility for individuals with physical challenges, Microsoft Accessibility allows older adults to personalize and customize their computers to make them easier to see, hear, and more comfortably use”.

According to a Pew Research Report on Older Adults and Technology Use, 59% of older adults report they go online. The report also reveals that “among older adults who use the Internet, 71% go online every day or almost every day, and an additional 11% go online three to five times per week. These older Internet users also have strongly positive attitudes about the benefits of online information in their personal lives. Fully 79% of older adults who use the Internet agree with the statement ‘people without Internet access are at a real disadvantage because of all the information they might be missing’, while 94% agree with the statement that ‘the Internet makes it much easier to find information today than in the past’”.

The list below is a small sampling of websites that offer easy access to stimulating lifelong learning opportunities for older adults:

Simon Fraser University (SFU) Seniors Lifelong Learners Society (SLLS)
The SFU SLLS website offers free forums on YouTube on topics ranging from The History of Human Desire to The Social Life of Taste.

Ted Talks
TED is a nonprofit devoted to spreading ideas, usually in the form of short, powerful talks (18 minutes or less).” With over 1,900+ talks to choose from, individuals should have no problem finding something inspirational.
11 Greatest Ted Talks for Anyone Over 50

Virtual Art Museums
Most major art galleries and museums offer online opportunities to view collections. For example, the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC, presents virtual tours of exhibitions along with audio and written guides. The Louvre in Paris offers virtual tours on the history of the Louvre along with galleries and collections.

Universities
Universities and colleges offer online interactive programs and courses for older adults who want to start or complete a degree. For example, Harvard Online Learning offers free and paid “extensive, world-class online learning opportunities”.

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