THE GRANKIT PROJECT: AGE AND RECONCILIATION THROUGH INTERGENERATIONAL LEARNING

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1 THE GRANKIT PROJECT: AGE AND RECONCILIATION THROUGH INTERGENERATIONAL LEARNING Cintia Colibaba 1, Anca Colibaba 2, Irina Gheorghiu 3, Stefan Colibaba 4 Abstract The world is ageing bringing about changes in families and our society. Ageing can be an enjoyable experience if elderly people have access to LLL opportunities. The GRANKIT project aims to promote active ageing and intergenerational solidarity through developing an innovative ICT training course for grandparents. This helps them acquire the necessary skills in order to participate in the modern world, both for pleasure and for business. Grandparents are professionally trained in ICT issues and social networking with the help of their grandchildren. In their turn volunteer grandparents offer support, help and guidance to children who are in need in the final stage of the project. Grandparents can practise and apply the knowledge acquired by using the GRANDS HELP DESK. Key words: grandparents, grandchildren, ICT skills, intergenerational learning Context The world we live in is a challenging one and the challenges associated with population ageing are a subject of ever increasing importance. Population ageing is a global phenomenon ( People are living longer than before, while fertility rates are going down. Demographic trends are changing: the older people are now a growing segment of society, while the share of the working-age population is declining. Joining all efforts and human resources is crucial in order to maintain prosperity and social cohesion of the society. New policies should ensure that older people can continue contributing to the economy and society and be able to look after themselves for as long as possible. This is the essence of the active ageing approach. Thus the main goal of international organizations such as the European Commission and the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) is to work on developing policies for active and healthy ageing. The Active Ageing Index (AAI) was developed in the context of the European Year for Active Ageing and Solidarity between Generations 2012 (EY2012). Its four priority goals to be reached by the end 1 PhD. Engineer, University of Agricultural Sciences and Veterinary Medicine Iaşi, Romania - 2 Prof. PhD., Gr. T. Popa University of Medicine and Pharmacy, Iasi, Romania and Fundatia EuroEd, Iasi, Romania 3 PhD student,albert Ludwigs Freiburg University of Germany - 4 Prof. PhD., Al.I.Cuza University of Iasi and Fundatia EuroEd Iasi -

2 of the third cycle (2017) are: 1. encouraging longer working lives and maintaining work ability; 2. promoting participation, non-discrimination and social inclusion of older persons; 3. promoting and safeguarding dignity, health and independence in older age, and 4. maintaining and enhancing intergenerational solidarity ( The most significant policy measure preparing society for rapid population growth is enabling and increasing older people s participation in the society and in the economy. This can be achieved by creating more age-friendly environments through active ageing policies which mobilize, encourage and empower the older population to utilize their full potential. Active ageing is the process of optimizing opportunities for health, participation and security in order to enhance quality of life as people age. It applies to both individuals and population groups. ( Active ageing allows people no matter the age to achieve their potential and to participate in society, while society is able to provide them with protection, security and care. In this light older people can remain active and contribute to the society s welfare a long time after they have retired from work. Active ageing will no doubt extend healthy life expectancy and quality of life for all people as they age. Ageing takes place within the context of friends, work associates, neighbors and family members. This is why interdependence and intergenerational solidarity are important principles of active ageing. Project Rationale The GRANKIT project aims to promote active ageing and intergenerational solidarity through developing an innovative ICT training course for a special segment of older people, grandparents. The project helps grandparents acquire the necessary ICT skills in order to participate in the modern world, both for pleasure and for business. Grandparents are professionally trained in this field with the help of their grandchildren who use their current knowledge on social networking. Intergenerational solidarity has a final stage with the launching of the GRANDS HELP DESK on the web/platform where grandparents in their turn can offer support, help and guidance to children who are in need.

3 If I wasn t a computer maniac, I wouldn t have a life. The internet is sometimes my only way to the real world, especially during winter or when my heart is not good. I have a Facebook, a Skype account and an . I am so pleased to have found my old classmates from the American Academy who live around the world. I helped them to set up their own Facebook and Skype account, so that we can communicate better. Using the phone costs a fortune. You will not believe it, but we have a set appointment to chat twice a week... But perhaps more important is that I can talk to my two grandchildren, Andreas and Anna, who are studying abroad, be there for them during the hard time of their parents divorce. I can even help my two other granddaughters with their homework when their parents are working. Katerina can show me her homework through Skype and I can explain to her what to do. It s so funny, being miles away and still being useful to them. I haven t learnt all this on by my own. My son taught me the basics (Windows, Word) and then one of my granddaughters, who is 15 yrs old, the rest. She is an expert with technology, social network sites, as all teenagers are.you know since we both had free time she taught me many things about the Internet, she created a Facebook for me and a Skype account. I am friends with some of her friends. I m doing a bit of spying as well, just to be on the safe side. She was embarrassed at the beginning when her friends where asking her, to whom she was talking to. It s very strange for a teenager to tell her friends; sorry I have to speak to my grandfather on Skype!! I thank God for all the technological innovations which have given me back my self-esteem, my self-respect. When I am lonely I get on the internet and have a chat to someone, or being busy scanning old photos, preparing albums of songs for birthday presents, searching the internet for football and tennis news. It s fantastic! Even at the age of 83 I am still alive and still learning. These interviews with grandparents were stepping stones in the GRANKIT project. The world is ageing and changing, which brings about changes in the society and family. This project aims to promote active ageing and intergenerational solidarity and turn ageing into an enjoyable experience. The means to achieve this goal is by giving elderly people access to LLL opportunities with the help of their grandchildren. Ageing becomes a shared issue. The project research has shown that one of the main things that the two generations have in common is free time, which can be spent pleasantly through intergenerational learning. Free time turns into quality time based on cooperation and mutual understanding. It fights isolation and loneliness

4 experienced by the elderly, engages young students in society by activating their citizenship qualities and, last but not least, strengthens family bonds. Project partners, target groups and objectives The project consortium consists of 5 partners who have the skills, knowledge and competences required to ensure the successful implementation of the project. GRANKIT project partners share a particular interest in professional development and cooperation in order to promote EU targets thus contributing to education development (The University of Nicosia, Cyprus, the University of Hannover, the Emphasys Computer Training, Cyprus, the EuroEd Foundation, Romania, the National Centre for Scientific Research Demokritos, Greece). The project attempts to explore and make the best use of the relationships that develop between the first and the third generation of members of European families through the provision of ICT opportunities for learning. The project target groups are grandparents and grandchildren from the four participating countries. Grandparents who might be educated (but not necessarily computer literate) are trained with the help of their grandchildren to acquire basic ICT skills and participate in social network groups. The project aims: To promote active ageing and intergenerational solidarity by providing direct and indirect opportunities for family learning as a private domain, intergenerational learning and lifelong learning for senior citizens who are otherwise more likely to be unwilling to engage in lifelong learning. To contribute to the creation of family learning environments with grandparents participating in and benefiting from family and social learning. To design and implement a multi-dimensional E.U. project that is based on developing multipurpose learning with high quality provision while addressing various family, social and educational issues. To promote the development of cooperation between the EU partners while achieving cultural awareness, mutual respect, sharing of knowledge and expertise for a common task. To design and provide high quality structured ICT innovative courses to grandparents in order to develop/ acquire the skills necessary to participate in the modern ways of web communication.

5 To develop opportunities for specialized teaching and learning based on the transfer of knowledge and skills from one generation to the other. To investigate ways in which grandparents and grandchildren can communicate in the modern society with the aim of benefiting from each other. To improve the elderly people s quality of life by eliminating feelings of loneliness, isolation and inactiveness which many people of the third generation feel through their active involvement into social networking groups. To cast new light on our understanding of the relationships developed between grandparents and grandchildren. To provide opportunities for grandparents to get away from home and actively get involved in activities that will develop their social skills through learning. To promote volunteerism among grandparents/retired/elderly people with the aim of actively involving them in the lives of their grandchildren or other children. To set up a website GRANDS HELP DESK with the aim of providing support, guidance and help to children through the use of chat room, forum blog post and other social networking tools that will break the boundaries of each country. Methodology and main activities The project reflects a research cycle procedure where the steps are interrelated and interlinked. The Project is divided into five stages. 1. The first stage: Family learning issues and participants needs (survey) The research describes the issues related to intergenerational learning and active ageing with regards to the aspect of family learning as a private domain, within the European context. Through the use of interviews, observation and questionnaires (triangular methods combining qualitative and quantitative techniques) it identifies current ICT knowledge and skills of target groups who participate in this project, as well as related perceptions, views, relevant family facts that can assist the development of the project.

6 Grandparents current knowledge and ICT skills vary depending on their previous profession and educational background. Although a number of grandparents might be educated in other fields, they might not be computer literates or they might not have the skills required for the use of social media tools. The target group of grandparents can be both educated and not educated individuals as they are trained to acquire the new skills or revise the existing ones. 2. The second stage: Development of ICT course for grandparents The main aims of this stage are to plan, design and produce an ICT training course for the main target group the grandparents and also to design a simplified training course for the other target group the grandchildren, who are involved in the last stage of the formal training that has to do with the social networking. Both ICT courses are based on the needs of the participants as identified by the analysis of the survey data. The course has four main components: Basic Computer Skills; Word processing; Internet, ; Social networking tools (Facebook, Twitter, Google Talk and Skype). The course is developed in English and then translated into the national languages of the partners (German, Greek and Romanian). 3. The third stage: Implementation of ICT courses The main aim of this stage is the actual implementation of the ICT training courses mainly for the grandparents and to a small scale for the grandchildren who are involved in the teaching and training of their grandparents. Grandchildren are involved in the last two parts of the training course dealing with the internet and and social networking. The grandchildren role would then be to teach their grandparents on how to use social network tools, i.e. create a Facebook and a Skype account. 4. The fourth stage: Setting up a network of communication The fourth stage is focused on the use of the social network tools. Grandchildren teach grandparents how to create a Facebook or Skype account and use social networking so that they can Keep In Touch (GRANKIT) and communicate with members of their family living away, old classmates, friends etc. The most challenging element at this stage is the

7 creating of a GRANDS GROUP, which enables participants to communicate with each other in order to exchange ideas, experiences, views and practice the skills acquired through the project. 5. The fifth stage: The GRANDS HELP DESK - Innovative Platform The aims of this stage are to organize the evaluation of the target groups participation in the project (through questionnaires) well as the project s goals and to recruit volunteers for GRANDS HELP DESK, where participants are given the opportunity to help children and teenagers in need. Conclusions The project enhances the quality of the time spent by grandparents and grandchildren by providing them with constructive learning opportunities within the family, which lead to better family relationships. The ICT skills enable grandparents to be part of their grandchildren s lives, offer their help and guidance and at the same time they open new links with the outside world. As a result grandparents self-confidence and self-esteem are increased and loneliness and isolation minimised. Grandparents can become active citizens using new technology. By getting involved in the GRANDS HELP DESK volunteer grandparents can provide young children with support (help with homework, personal or family problems, difficulties at school life, bullying, anti-social behaviour, counselling on several issues). The skills enable grandparents to communicate with their grandchildren or other children in need; grandparents use social network groups with the aim of providing support, guidance and help children, which also results in reducing their inactiveness, isolation and loneliness and becoming active citizens who can have access to the electronic world. The consortium of the GRANKIT project aims to develop the cooperation and utilise each organisation s expertise in order to contribute to the ageing issue which concerns all countries worldwide. The project supports European policies, mechanisms and strategies which ensure that ageing can be a positive and creative, rather than a negative and frustrating experience for all. It promotes solidarity among generations.

8 Grandparents are ageing and in doing so the project aim is to optimise their opportunities for health, for lifelong learning, for participation and for security which enhance the quality of their lives. Reference

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