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Spiralling through Change: Literacies and Technologies across the Lifespan - LRDG Seminar

Date: 5 May 2009 Time: 1.00 - 2.00 pm

Mary Hamilton (Lancaster University Literacy Research Centre) with Rita Gerrard, Margaret Marsden, Irena Pritchard, Angela Robertson, Jill Robinson, Janet Ross-Mills and Brenda Willis (Lancaster DCE Senior Learners' Forum)

This paper reports on a collaborative research study among a small group of older adults documenting everyday communication practices in an era that has seen a move from the "old" technology of the printed word to new digital technologies. The aim of the project is to challenge media discourses that present older adults as outsiders to the new digital landscape as compared with "native" younger generations. The framework is that of the new literacy studies and the case study builds on existing surveys of older adults' and changing communication technologies.

The interview and enquiry process developed over a year of group and individual meetings within which we identified the following key questions:

  • Why and how do older people use communications technologies?
  • How do these uses change across the lifespan?
  • How do older people make choices to use new technologies or not?
  • How do they learn to use them?
  • Do new communication technologies increase isolation or do they increase social contact for older people?

We found that people engaged with new technologies in many different domains of social activity ranging from local political participation to internet shopping. People learned about technologies both formally and informally and through intergenerational and cross cultural exchanges. Factors that affect the take up of technologies for communication include fear and trust; and physical factures in the everyday environment and of people themselves.

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Who can attend: Anyone


Further information

Organising departments and research centres: Educational Research, Lancaster Literacy Research Centre, Linguistics and English Language

Keywords: Literacies, Literacy


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Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
Lancaster University
Lancaster LA1 4YD
United Kingdom

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