The aim of the project OPALESCE
is to create a distance learning system that senior citizens with no previous computer experience can learn in 1 hour and implementing it in a way that attracts a large number of users and content providers. The distance learning system will be extremely simple to use, and it will run on mobile touch-screen devices such as tablets and smartphones. By the end of the project it will be able to run on its own as a free system open to anyone. While it will be especially useful to senior citizens with decreasing mobility, the system can also be used by anyone and might lead to more mobile learning.
In addition the consortium intends to develop an introduction course to the system for senior citizens with no computer experience. The goal is to give groups most affected by the digital divide the opportunity to learn how to use modern technological devices and through the distance learning system open a gateway to further lifelong learning and a learning community.
Objectives for reaching these aims and goals are:
• Creating a didactical concept for using distance learning most efficiently The concept will deal with the question of how senior citizens learn and how learning content can be presented on mobile devices like smart phone screens. It will also analyse options for interactive engagement of learners (small feedback tests after each section).
• Creating a handbook for content developers
The handbook will guide developers through creating learning content and making it available.
• Creating the server side of the distance learning system
The central server is an essential component for making the learning content available.
• Creating the client side of the distance learning system
Apart from making the system accessible through a web browser the consortium will focus on creating mobile apps on smartphones and tablets.
• Getting content providers involved
In first talks several organisations have expressed interest in creating learning content (like medical advice, nutrition advice, etc…) for free and offer it through the system. The consortium will find more external partners once the system is running.
• Getting learners involved
Through extensive dissemination and exploitation activities the consortium will get learners involved.
• Creating a sustainable structure
The consortium will have to find a way to support the system after the project ends. The project members are expecting to find a solution like a paid content model but everyone is open to alternative ideas and opportunities that will arise during the project.
Reaching the aims and objectives will create a situation in which disadvantaged groups will not only have easy access to a system that teaches them the basics of using mobile phones or tablets, but also provides them with a tool for continuous lifelong learning despite their mobility issues. In practice senior citizens would most likely be supported by family members or teachers who can also provide the technical devices at first and introduce them to the OPALESCE distance learning system. Therefore the OPALESCE project would be a big step in combating the digital divide of European society.