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The blogpost was originally published by Katja Bröckl-Bergner.
The idea of the “Senior citizens on digital trails” project is that senior citizens, supported by children, rediscover their town while becoming more familiar with their smartphones in real usage scenarios. Media trainer Katja Bröckl-Bergner came up with the idea, her motivation being learning with and from one another. The intergenerational project “Senior citizens on digital trails” was born and became one of 44 funded flagship projects of the German National Association of Senior Citizens' Organisations (BAGSO).
For the guided tours from the Katholischen Bildungswerks Erding (Catholic Educational Institute, KBW), the interested citizens meet at the premises of the KBW. First, they download the free app Actionbound onto their own mobile devices (smartphone or tablet). The discovery tour that pupils designed in 2019 is on this app. It leads the participants to various interesting sites such as the town wall, town hall or to the church tower which is not actually part of the church. Different tasks await them here and all of them can be solved with the help of mobile devices. These include scanning QR codes, taking photos, and answering guesstimate or general knowledge questions on Erding and digital technology.
The older people get to know their mobile devices and other applications in a game-based manner and can, as part of the activities, try out, test and see how helpful these technical applications can be for everyday life.
Planning an app for senior citizens together
The basis of the game is the Actionbound app. In a team consisting of sixth-form pupils from a high school in Erding, Carina Dollberger from the KBW Erding, the media trainer Katja Bröckl-Bergner, and two product development experts from the “Produktmacher” agency in Munich, we developed a so-called “bound”, a tour of Erding.
14 pupils, alongside their teacher Christoph Achtnichts, started out on their product development journey with the conceptual approach of design thinking. The goal was to encourage competencies such as the ability to work in a team, problem-solving skills and creativity among the pupils, and to solve a societal issue together in a sustainable way.
The app has to be well prepared so that it is indeed appealing and usable for older people. To this end, sixth-form pupils from the Anne Frank Gymnasium first surveyed elderly people to find out what stops and tasks they would find particularly interesting on the digital scavenger hunt.
However the first order of the day was to collect ideas and select the best ones. A paper prototype of the future app was made and tested so that it could be digitally implemented later and tested once again by volunteer senior citizens. The participants were helped by the pupils. Suggestions for improvement, criticism, requests and praise were recorded so that they could later influence the app’s development.
Sustainable digital education for the elderly
The digital scavenger hunt “Senior citizens on digital trails” is regularly offered as a guided, free tour by the KBW Erding and media trainer Katja Bröckl-Bergner. The app is of course also freely available to everybody. The elderly are always excited about what young people have created. Many of the scavenger-hunt participants reported that they got to know Erding in a completely different but fun way.
Education Officer Carina Dollberger finds it wonderful that the Erding elderly not only rediscovered their town using an app, but that they were also able to explore the technical possibilities of their smartphones. This includes the learning content such as logging into a Wi-Fi network, downloading an app or using the camera.
Old and young make a great team
“It was a unique project with an excellent, very rewarding interdisciplinary team. The team were great – this was the resounding opinion of all participants. All of them had a lot of fun and were very motivated. We managed to really inspire young people about something, they were motivated to commit themselves to it. It was an opportunity for them to use their own solutions to actively transform a societal challenge. In doing so they, and we too of course, were able to develop social and creative skills that enable us to approach problems and draw out innovative ideas in a systematic process.”
Most notable was the picture taken when the first version was tested for the first time in the town by pupils and volunteer senior citizens. They all looked very happy. The senior citizens were very pleased by the patient, kind and respectful guidance of the pupils.
At first, the entire young group was very anxious as to whether their app would really work and be liked. Yet the immediate recognition of their work and the praise from the senior citizens meant that they very quickly forgot their anxiety. They were all visibly proud of their work. The teachers were pleasantly surprised by the empathy of their protégés and were also proud of how their pupils handled the challenge.
Anyone visiting Erding should download our app to explore the town. :) https://actionbound.com/bound/seniorenaufdigitalenpfaden
About the author:
Katja Bröckl-Bergner - Media trainer for young and old, and speaker - business economist (Dipl.-Betriebswirtin) - www.wahrnehmungsmanufaktur.de
She is committed to the digital participation of senior citizens and to the digital media education of children and adolescents. She most loves working with cooperation partners on concepts that can encourage and prepare senior citizens for the digital world. She believes that everybody, regardless of age and ability, has a right to internet access and thus to digital education. In this report she describes the intergenerational project “Senior citizens on digital trails” in Erding, her home town in Upper Bavaria.