Clear visual demonstrations can compensate for these impairments. With print-based materials, ensure that: (a) pages are well laid out; (b) exercises and assessment tasks are clearly identified; and (c) font style used is easy-to-read
(7) Accessible, easy to follow print-based materials where instructions, tasks and assessments are clearly marked is crucial to the success of a program for older learners. Most ICT training materials follow a one-size-fits-all approach -- often too much too soon. This does not work well with older learners. (Taylor and Rose, 2004)
(8) Consider the amount and size of text on web pages before you use them with older learners - Many older learners have sight impairments and pages with a lot of dense text can be difficult to read. Some pages may not allow for enlargement. (Taylor and Rose, 2004)
Taylor and Rose (2004) state that the top ten identified strategies in the study reported for the creation of a learning experience for older learners that is effective are the strategies identified in the following list. Older learners engaged in ICT learning: (1) "Are more likely to undertake short non-award vocational courses - aim is to gain skills rather than qualifications; (2) Increasingly turn to community training providers for vocational and personal training; (3) Prefer learning in an informal learning environment, in small classes or groups; (4) Need slower paced, low intensity training and often prefer self-paced learning; (5) Take increasing responsibility for their training and learning and for sourcing learning which meets their needs, constraints and learning-style preferences (6) Are often independent learners - self-directed and with a clear idea of their own purpose for undertaking training (7) Highly value peer support, mentoring and tutoring (8) Value and respond to supportive and responsive teachers, tutors and volunteers (9) Want clear and explicit instructions, with print and web-based resources designed to accommodate age-affected sight and hearing; (10) Generally feel more comfortable learning with a similar aged cohort. (Taylor and Rose, 2004)
In the study of older learners Taylor and Rose state that these learners tend to become discouraged from ICT learning because older learners: (1) "lack of basic computer skills, lack of knowledge of computer terminology; (2) fear of computer technology; (3) the 'digital divide' -- not growing up with the technology; (4) skills level of many formal training courses -- if too high learners can feel disempowered; (5) formal training environments -- may not always suit self-directed, independent learners; (6) lack of recognition of prior experience -- self-esteem may be affected; (7) age-related barriers - sight, hearing and mental agility; and (8) language and literacy skills -- especially, but not only, NESB learners." (Taylor and Rose, 2004)
The work of Jones and Bayen (1998) state that it is important to ensure elimination of "noise disturbances in the classroom because older adults have difficulty ignoring irrelevant auditory stimuli." Mayhorn et al. (2004) states findings that a small class size is critically important in teaching older adult learners. Bean (2003) identified the importance of locating the training "in a room or area conducive to learning for older adults…warm…away from noise distractions." (in Becker and Coleman, 2005)
The work of Jones and Bayen emphasizes the importance of using language "…as explicitly as possible to minimize irrelevant connotations and inferences that may be drawn by older adults" Mates (2004) notes that the role of the instructor should be one of "coach, facilitator, or mentor rather than that of task-master." Agre (1998) states that the instructor should not "…take keyboard. Let them do all the typing, even if it's slower that way, and even if you have to point them to every key they need to type. That's the only way they're going to learn from the interaction" (Agre, 1998). Agre (1998) additionally states: "Attend to the symbolism of the interaction. Try to squat down so your eyes are just below the level of theirs (sic). When they're looking at the computer, look at the computer. When they're looking at you, look back at them"
Agre (1998) also advises: "Be aware of how abstract your language is "Get into the editor" is abstract and "press this key" is concrete. Don't say anything unless you intend for them to understand it. Keep adjusting your language downward towards concrete units until they start to get it, then slowly adjust back up towards greater abstraction so long as they're following you. When formulating a take-home lesson ("when it does this and that, you should try such-and- such"), check once again that you're using language of the right degree of abstraction for this user right now" (Agre, 1998 in Becker and Coleman, 2005) Finally Becker and Coleman state that Agre (1998) advises: "Whenever they start to blame themselves, respond by blaming the computer. Then keep on blaming the computer, no matter how many times it takes, in a calm, authoritative tone of voice. If you need to show off, show off your ability to criticize bad design. When they get nailed by a false assumption about the computer's behavior, tell them their assumption was reasonable. Tell *yourself* that it was reasonable" (Agre, 1998).
Agre, P. (1998). How to help someone use a computer in: Becker, Kristen and Coleman, Jason (2005) Instruction for Older Adults, TriCon 2005.
Bean, C. (2003). Meeting the challenge: Training an aging population to use computers. The Southeastern Librarian, 51(3), 16-25.
Bean, C., & Laven, M. (2003). Adapting to seniors: Computer training for older adults. Florida Libraries, 46(2), 5-7.
Becker, Kristen and Coleman, Jason (2005) Instruction for Older Adults, TriCon 2005.
Mates, B.T. (Ed.). (2004). Seniors and computing technology, chapter 3 of Computer