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Electronic Platform for Adult Learning in Europe



Intergenerational Learning: online discussion

by Zsolt Vincze


Intergenerational Learning: online discussion

As part of EPALE's October focus on intergenerational learning, the European Basic Skills Network (EBSN) will hold a two-day online discussion focusing on basic skills outcomes for adults who engage in family learning programmes. We would like to hear your experience of such initiatives and your views on ways in which intergenerational learning can lead to positive basic skills outcomes for adults and to other pathways of learning.
The discussion is open to everyone and will take place on this page on Monday 23rd and Tuesday 24th October 2017. It will be moderated by EBSN Secretary General Graciela Sbertoli and colleagues from the EBSN Executive Committee. We will address the following questions:

  • How can intergenerational learning motivate, or otherwise support, adults in improving their basic skills? 
  • What are the success criteria for effective national policy in this field?

We would also be very interested to read (very) short case studies of intergenerational learning programmes which involve a focus on adult basic skills outcomes. Include links to documents and web resources that provide more information. It does not matter if these are not in English.

These blogs will act as starting points for the discussion: 

The discussion will be organised on this platform, starting on Monday, 23 October at 10:00 CET and will be moderated until 17:00 CET on Tuesday.

We look forward to hearing from you.


PLEASE NOTICE that the discussion covers now more than one page. You find the links to pages 2+ at the bottom of this page.

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Keith Aquilina's picture

The Directorate for Digital Literacy & Transversal Skills within the Maltese Ministry for Education and Employment, seeks to promote Computational Thinking in children and young people.  These competences enable them to think logically, to express themselves through a variety of media, to solve real-world problems and analyse everyday issues with a different perspective.  

This scholastic year, the directorate is launching a new initiative ‘Family Code Nights’ in which adults discover ways in which they can support their child's learning as children and adults engage in fun coding activities. “Family Code Night” is a series of 2 hour workshops in which children in year 4 and 5 and their parents a


Family Code Night
re introduced together to coding.
Parents/Guardians and their children are being encouraged to participate in a series of Lego Education Wedo robotics workshops being delivered by Lego Academy certified trainers.

Parents who want to help out as event volunteers are welcome.  Parents and kids with technical experience, are encouraged to register as Code Coaches. For further details

Mary FLANAGAN's picture

Wonderfully pulled together piece Helen, all the ideas captured and indeed an excellent outline of how to plan for intergenerational learning anywhere in the community.



Helen Keogh's picture

Apologies for a more than late arrival to the conversation . . . 

In response to  the second discussion question posed, I'd like to address the issue of setting up an IL activity from an organiser's point of view.  I believe that a concentration on the following questions will prove useful.

What? What is meant by IL? Clarity of understanding of what is intended by ‘intergenerational learning’ for all involved is a critical starting point.  Key elements of IL are intentionality of the learning - it does not happen by accident; reciprocity of the learning - both parties are learning, perhaps not exactly at the same time, at the same pace or, indeed, the same things .. 

What does IL mean in practice? I got a sense that many posters focused on family learning. The family is, of course, a natural site of intergenerational learning. However, it seems to me that family learning is often more asymmetrical and one-way than is intended by the term ‘intergenerational learning’.

Why? Clear aims and objectives at all levels are essential - what reciprocal  shared learning is planned?  In which domains? Social, cultural, economic, political and/or personal?. 

Who?  Who will be involved?  Persons might include:initiator/manager; organiser; at least two generations of learners; facilitator; monitor/evaluator. The majority of posters focused on young people and older people / seniors. What about the generations in between?  Millennials?  Mid-lifers?  The concept of intergenerational learning does not exclude these groups but, in practice, they may be excluded.   Perhaps the term ‘multigenerational’ is more explicit,  though, I suppose, ‘multigenerational’ learning could also translate into ‘generations learning in parallel’.

Where? A neutral location is desirable, ideally, a location that does not put the focus on one generation over the other(s). Posters referred to schools; adult education centres;  older persons' residences; civic centres; senior clubs (NO); multigenerational houses (DE and some in AT); 

(W)how? What can be / should be done to structure an intentional teaching / learning exchange between generations? How will the intergenerational exchange of knowledge / skills occur? Will it be in a group setting or a small one-to-one activity? Will it be a a  structured social encounter? A structured   transfer of experiences, knowledge, know-how? A  mutual creative activity (e.g. art, craft, drama, writing)?  It may be useful to start by identifying barriers to success of the planned exchange activity for the specific target groups and then seek ways to address those challenges, including, for example: building the capacity of the key actors and putting in place the supports the key actors (doing the exchanging) need, especially in relation to various approaches to sharing / exchanging skills. Based on the point made by the poster from EE, it may  be essential to train one or both sides in knowledge / skills sharing. Alternatively, the practice of ‘tandem teaching’ described by a poster offers useful possibilities.  

Win-win:   to spark and maintain motivation, the two (or more) sides  involved need to gain from IL  in terms  of  learning,  achievement, personal satisfaction. Concrete reward may also motivate participants.  The AT poster pointed to this in the description of  the Points4Action (AT) where young people get points for activities with older people, i.e., credits for leisure activities.

What outcomes / impact?   Measurement of outcomes is essential, both in terms of the IL organiser's professional requirements, but also in terms of addressing the challenge of convincing key stakeholders, including  potential participants,  education bodies, civic bodies, funders, local / national authorities, of the benefits  of IL.   These requirements and challenges give rise to an enduring  demand for evidence of outcomes, especially from funders and policy-makers.  Thus, decisions on what evidence will be gathered, according to what criteria, how, when, and by whom, need to be made at the planning stage. 

What next? The final question relates to Review and Evaluation of the overall all activity, so as to inform the next steps in terms of how to take the work forward. 

I hope the above contributed to answering Question No 2  posed above by Graciela. 

Svetlana Petrovic's picture

Hi, I am the pedagogist in secondary school, and I think that life learnig is wery important and can be improved in two-way direction. even in three-way :). Not only between parents and a child, also between children, parents and grandparents. They could maybe do some project or something like that and they can all learn something..content, methods or technology use..

Graciela Sbertoli's picture

Dear all, 

We have come to the end of the moderating period for this discussion, as announced in the introduction. The discussion, however, will continue open. Feel free to add comments and questions.

The EBSN team will compile a short resumé, which is likely to be published by the end of next week.

Thank you, all, for your contributions! 

Joanna Kic-Drgas's picture

Dear Graciela,

you have asked about the referential websites. Unfortunately, the project websites function only in Polish but here some examples:, it is a governmental project.

The project I mentioned, connecting intergenerational meetings with art is a local project realised by one of the  Fundations Tkanka Twórcza:

 And also the project of intergenerational exchange focused not only on language learning but learning from each other principle:

I think the topic is developing quickly but still we are lacking international projects.



Joanna Kic-Drgas

Graciela Sbertoli's picture

... to translate :-) Thanks for the additional information, Joanna! I am sure that many of our participants will be interested in knowing more about your projects. Who knows? Maybe some of them contact you with a view to a new project? 

Graciela Sbertoli's picture

Karen, sorry to hear you are experiencing technical difficulties. I am glad you could pass this on to Mary.

Thanks for clearing up the misunderstanding. We agree with you that this is a very promising model! Maybe it could become the subject of an Erasmus+ project?

Mary FLANAGAN's picture

Karin is finding it hard to log in and emailed me this response:

Unfortunately, I have to correct your assumption that there are many multi-generational houses in Austria. This form of venue for multi-generational encounters is not yet something that has been established in Austria. (There are similar institutions such as "neighborhood centers," but they have another focus.)

Our multi-generational house in Graz is (unfortunately) still the only one in Austria; its goal is to recreate an "extended family." This is why we have events for all generations in our program that support encounters between youth and older generations, giving them the opportunity to get to know one another and to become closer. This provides casual and relaxed situations where the generations can learn from each other. During our so-called "Tagestreff" (daily get-together), which takes place in a centrally located, cozy kitchen, there are often opportunities for conversations and help, where, for example, the younger ones might spontaneously offer to help their elders with their mobile phones, or the younger ones get help from a "grandma," for instance, collecting children from school, or an older person might find someone to keep them company.

There are, of course, also events whose specific purpose is a learning process between young and old, for example, typical seasonal family projects like baking cookies at Christmastime or making jam when fruit is being harvested. This provides the opportunity for the older generation to pass on real knowledge to the younger generation.

We believe that an open venue that provides the opportunity for encounters between all the generations not only supports learning from each other, but also fosters mutual respect, and we would be very happy to see many such venues in Austria. The program that promotes and facilitates such venues in Germany is exemplary. Our multi-generational house here in Graz was created with financial support from the city of Graz and a lot of volunteer work.


Karin Steffen