Due to the increasing heterogeneity and diversification in old age, the demands on scientific continuing education of older people change. The needs and interests of older people are more differentiated today and new and appropriate education provisions for this target group have to be developed accordingly. The new media and especially the Internet are of interest not only for the “younger” older people. Especially for older people on the border to very high age, with restricted mobility and impaired health, the Internet provides an extension to the existing education and action possibilities. This applies even more to people in rural areas. However, also learning via the Internet changes.
While on the one hand, the trend moves from information to interaction and community oriented learning, on the other hand, virtual learning in the context of mobile Internet has to be simplified. With focus on the methodological and didactic requirements, (learning) motivation and sociability are added to accessibility and usability.
The aim of the MobilA in this context is to develop and to test new forms and ways of learning for the target group of older adults. Involved in the project are various education and continuing education providers, as well as seniors’ organisations and institutions in rural areas. Learning opportunities will be offered over the Internet together with modular and interactive teaching material for learning groups as well as for individual learners. In this context, seniors will be trained as volunteer multipliers for the coordination of learning groups, the support of mobile learning and the implementation of webinars. Besides the so-called Senior-Internet-Helpers, who provide particularly technical support, and the Senior-online-Editors, who work on the contents of an online journal (www.lerncafe.de), within the frame of lifelong learning of older people a new role of responsibility will be promoted and qualified for. Developed will be supporting platform with simple social networks’ functions enabling interactive cooperation between learners, which can be used independently also by smaller initiatives and learning groups.
Together with project partners such as the Network Senior-Internet-Initiatives BW or the participants of Learning through Research, in May 2014 the project MobilA started a concept and planning stage to prepare the actions and milestones of the first implementation phase. Interlocked with the project sihMobil financed by the bmbf, the subject of mobile learning was introduced on four locations. In cooperation with the MFG Baden-Württemberg, offered were also four webinars for training of volunteer multipliers. Considering the needs and interests of the target group of older people, special attention was paid to a combination of online learning and personal contacts in learning groups. Parallel to this started the nationwide online circular lecture program (Online-Ringvorlesung – ORV) on the subject “Living Environment and Technology” consisting of six lectures to which, in the frame of MobilA, besides Universities also individual Senior-Internet-Initiatives with learning groups in rural areas were invited – e.g. Rudersberg, Reichenbach, Wangen. A seminar that had taken place in the middle of July 2014 included a review of the ORV subjects, an evaluation of the first action stage and a training of Senior-Internet-Helpers as learning assistants. ZAWiW’s WordPress-based learning platform served not only the presentation of the ORV, but provided also an opportunity for the groups to network and to document their work. Especially developed for this purpose were interactive Web 2.0 tools for the exchange of data, for mutual introductions and for personal exchanges over forums and chat. In cooperation with the PH Schwäbisch Gmünd, the municipality of Schwäbisch Gmünd and other actors in the field of seniors’ education, ZAWiW supports also the project „Seniorenhochschule Schwäbisch Gmünd geht neue Wege“ (Seniors’ High School Schwäbisch Gmünd takes new Directions) and looks for new cooperation possibilities in the context of MobilA. The expert congress „Bündnis für Lebenslanges Lernen“ (Alliance for Lifelong Learning) in July 2014 provided an opportunity for the presentation of the first results from the project MobilA and for the project multipliers to gain new knowledge and to learn about other online learning offers. The second project stage started in October 2014 with a qualification seminar, in which, together with multipliers, new ideas for future learning provisions and learning materials were developed and the next steps in the project MobilA planned. Besides methodological, didactic and technical issues, the issue of copyright came strongly into view; here new strategies for unproblematic distribution of contents in scientific continuing education are needed. In cooperation with the network ViLE, exemplary seminar on the subject „Heimat und Medien“ (Home Country and the Media) with accompanying online learning activities on the virtual learning platform took place in February 2015. Also in February 2015 started a qualifying training course on Webinars for multipliers from MobilA. The course is offered by ZAWiW together with the E-learning Centre of Ulm University. Also in cooperation with the E-Learning Centre, as in the online circular lectures in the summer semester 2015, several e-learning seminars were offered to conceptualize in a dialogue between students and seniors the accompanying learning materials and to subsequently place these on ZAWiW’s learning platform for the participants of the ORV.
Results and experiences
In the frame of MobilA, different learning activities and contents of scientific education could successfully be provided over the Internet and in the context of mobile learning on six different locations in Baden-Württemberg. ZAWiW’s virtual learning platform on the basis of a multi-website from WordPress was used not only in the frame of the project, but was successfully tested also in European context. In the context of MobilA, more than 100 multipliers could be sensitized for mobile learning in older age, more than 600 older learners were reached in various learning settings. Twenty learning mentors registered for the course of trainings on Webinars. Besides the didactic, the methodological and the technical challenges
Besides the challenges of methodological and technical implementation, the upcoming problem concerning copyright issues in the course of the procejt will continue to be a crucieal point for which solution strategies need to be developed. However, it also became evident that the use of mobile Internet is still far from being a matter of course for many older learners. Important role here play not only technical barriers, but also the lack of variety of good projects and application examples as well as role models, which could illustrate the significance of mobile learning to older people.
The nationwide online circular lecture series „Unbehagen an Europa“ (Unease with Europe) during the summer semester 2015 provides a frame in which the online activities from the project MobilA can be continued. Besides the twelve national university locations, several groups from rural areas in Baden-Württemberg take part again. In addition to this, ZAWiW offers an in-depth training and currently implements in cooperation with the ZEL supporting online-modules on the subject of “Europe”. Tested in learning groups will be further online offers, for example in cooperation with the ViLE Network the online course “Violence-free communication”. In the frame of the qualification series about webinars, webinars will be developed, which can be implemented in various contexts. Currently developed are webinars on various technical subjects, copyright and Europe. The Bundesarbeitsgemeinschaft Wissenschaftliche Weiterbildung für Ältere (BAGWiWA – National Association Scientific Continuing Education for Older People) is very interested in the subject of webinars. Here ZAWiW plans together with other Universities a national qualification series, which should further develop the application of new media in the context of seniors‘ education. Concerning the so-called senior learning mentors, envisaged are further qualification measures and further development of this new post-professional field of activity. Planned are continuation projects on state and federal level as well as in the frame of European cooperation, financed from the programs of the European Commission.
With regard to the copyright problematics, ZAWiW would like to draw attention to the Open Educational Resources (OER) as a solution strategy. Here the Bündnis Lebenslanges Lernen- BLLL (Alliance Lifelong Learning) with cooperation partners such as the expert group New Media at the MFG Baden-Württemberg provide important impulses. ZAWiW will present the project MobilA and its continuing activities in the frame of the expert conference “New Media” of the BLLL in December 2015.
 Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung (BMBF) – Federal Ministry of Education and Research
 Medien- und Filmgesellschaft Baden-Württemberg (MFG) – Association for media and movies
 Pädagogische Hochschule Schwäbisch Gmünd – college of education in Schwäbisch Gmünd
Project coordinator: Ulm University, Zentrum für Allgemeine wissenschaftliche Weiterbildung (ZAWiW)
Contact: Albert-Einstein-Allee 11, 89081 Ulm, Tel.: 0731/50-26601, E-Mail: email@example.com
Cooperation partners: Netzwerk sii BW / ViLE-Netzwerk / BAG WiWA / LpB Baden-Württemberg / MFG Baden-Württemberg / further seniors‘ organisations and continuing education providers
Duration: 2014 – 2015
Thematic areas: New media (Mobile Learning, Blended Learning)
Target group: Older adults, multipliers in continuing education of older people
Authors: Linda Grieser, Markus Marquard
Translator: Gabriela Körting