Self-Assessed Differences in Internet Skills Before and After Training

The two graphics in this post illustrate the differences in “Internet skills” before and after the training.  The goals of the training were:

  1. to illustrate to our senior residents the practical benefits of accessing the Internet and getting online
  2. to train seniors in the foundation skills for using the Internet
  3. to assess their skills at the end of training
  4. to reward the seniors completing the training and passing the assessment with a laptop computer and up to a free year of Internet service from the building’s broadband network through August 31, 2012
  5. to encourage residents to sign up for and use the free Internet service
  6. to sign on for a paid Internet service at the end of the BTOP program.

Above are the results we found in the self-assessment of Internet skills before awareness raising and the training programs that took place for seniors in 23 low-income housing facilities in northern Illinois.

We’ve made some preliminary comments on what the data might mean. What do you think? 

This entry was posted in Case Studies, Economic Values, Illinois BTOP Project, Internet Training. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Self-Assessed Differences in Internet Skills Before and After Training

  1. Dan Kent says:

    For the purposes of this demonstration, was social networking taught to the learners? If not, I propose that consideration be given to including it as a component of earning one’s driver’s license. Our experience has been that senior “students” learn and retain social networking skills because many understand its value proposition and ability to enable them to connect to friends and family.

    We have also found that some training programs used to teach basic computer and Internet skills use lesson plans that are written in more of a technical writing style than a conversational approach. This appears to makes the learning process more difficult for some learners. Consequently, we have written our own lesson plans (example: https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B_zPrkKz3jCCLWdCV3BOWl9uME0/edit?pli=1) that have more pictures and less technical jargon. Our lesson plans will not be applicable for all programs because they have been customized to maximize the effectiveness of our student volunteer and senior citizen one-to-one teaching methodology.

  2. Frank Odasz says:

    What are the foundation level Internet skills that could enable a senior to access whatever new Internet applications that evolve over time?

    Peers sharing for what they’ve learned that got them excited is the primary dynamic by which seniors are likely to learn about new applications. How you measure the level of fun, social, learning resulting from your training programs is something to consider. Most seniors won’t believe they will find the Internet compelling until they experience relevant content and new social connections.

    There is a big difference between learning digital skills within the social safety of a group, and trying to figure it all out on your own. It is no small point that if we all share what we know, we’ll all have access to all our knowledge. I’ve been teaching teachers online for 25 years, many of which qualify as seniors. Did you link your seniors to exciting videos showing specifics for what they can do for themselves online? Such as Skype with family, volunteer to help others, join an online peer learning group, create content to benefit others, digital storytelling to preserve one’s knowledge and wisdom for all future generations, including online lessons sharing their knowledge, hobbies, passions?

    In your utilization assessment, did you measure how many created online content they were proud of and shared ? How many participated in learning groups with peers? How many taught others useful skills? Did you measure their change in motivation before and after training? Did you ask what changed in their perception of what they can DO with the Internet?

    Do they have access to a roster of exciting short videos showing what more they might learn to do online?
    Do they have access to short module self-directed skills lessons?
    Do they have someone to counsel them on the best self-directed skills lessons appropriate for their specific interests and learning level?
    Do they have a place to surf and share in the company of others?

    Frank Odasz

  3. Frank Odasz says:

    Tom Brokaw hosted a TV special on the baby boomers generation and asked a panel, “Has your generation accomplished what you’d hoped?” And the answer was “Not Yet.” I find a lot of this top down digital literacy policy making rather patronizing.

    WE are the most educated and affluent generation in human history. Even those of us with minimal education and financial resources, have life experiences reflecting more change than any other generation. What most people need most, is encouragement, and that’s something we all can give to others without limitation.

    Faith-based citizens can be inspired with the unlimited positive impacts they could make on lives of others, worldwide. Everyone can be both learner and teacher, both consumer and producer, all the time. Pop Quiz: Who said “Greater things than I have done shall yea also do?” BELIEVE in the power at your fingertips! With Power Comes Responsibility!!

    Instead of continually funding the Telcos, the FCC and Federal agencies should provide support for CyberSeniors to create and mobilize the CCC – Citizen Cyber Corps, tasked to developing new accelerated learning models with new metrics for measurable outcomes.

  4. Don Samuelson says:

    Frank, tet me take just one of your suggestions and see how it might work out. It was your first sentence – “What are the foundation levell Internet skills”? The C2C Curriculum Commitee appears to be gathering examples of training materials for low-income families. What would a similar effort produce for computer/Internet for seniors? Is there an agreed upon level of “foundation Internet skills.” Should there be? There are a lot of examples out there: Senior Net, OASIS, OATS, Connected Living, Webwise Seniors, Generations on Line, the Goodwill Foundation, etc. Not a comprehensive list, just suggestive. But are there ways to collect examples in an organized way – like C2C – so that we could get an Internet Driver’s LIcense Level of Competence for our 40,000,000 seniors. The Europeans did this with their International Driver’s License program. And they’re now offering their programs in America.

  5. Dave Hughes says:

    Seems to me the most direct way to get seniors online is to getting them talking online – first with other seniors, then their own family members wherever they live, then with their ‘community’ leaders, then with the professionals with whom they have to deal – doctors, caregivers, those who manage their money. With everything aimed at getting them able to communicate as direct and unfiltered as possible.

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