We are pleased to announce that Imperial College Business School has launched “What the Tech?”, a digital literacy programme for older people at the Edward Woods Community Centre in Hammersmith and Fulham Borough.
The project was initiated by the Dean’s Student Advisory Council (DSAC), working closely with our Student Experience Manager, Catherine Batley, and the Community Engagement Officer for Imperial College, Priya Pallan, in collaboration with Helen Rowe of the Urban Partnerships Group and the Edward Woods Community Champions. The DSAC is made of students across programmes at Imperial College Business School.
Mobeen Iqbal, Doctoral student and Chair of DSAC, explains, “One of our priorities this year was societal outreach. We proposed the digital literacy programme to help elderly residents with their technology needs and to reduce isolation levels within that age group.”
What the Tech? consists of weekly drop-in sessions on Thursday afternoon, where older members of the local community can bring along any devices or online activities with which they would like help and support from our dedicated volunteers within the Business School.
The programme has been running for a few weeks and has been successful so far, with the Edward Woods Community Centre praising the drop-ins as extremely useful, bringing in older residents to the centre who don’t often venture out.
“Seven local residents attended the first session and stayed the entire 90 minutes,” William Godson, DSAC Member and MSc Management student, says, “The questions varied from “How do I Skype family members in the Caribbean?” to “How do I swipe my smartphone screen to pick up calls from my sister?”
Students have so far taught a range of different skills, from how to take and send photos or create videos, to how to send text messages and download apps, as well as teaching people how to be safe online.
Catherine Batley, Student Experience Manager, says “We are thrilled to have launched a programme through which students and staff from Imperial College Business School can benefit society. It has been fantastic to see the happy smiles of the participants as they learn new skills and enjoy socialising with our volunteers and the Community Champions.”
The team is collecting feedback on the sessions each week in order to evaluate the impact and success of the project with the aim of potentially expanding the number of sessions or perhaps widening the age groups currently targeted. Longer term, “We would love to coach younger residents to teach digital literacy skills to elderly residents, which would help strengthen ties between different groups in the same community,” Mobeen says.
The programme is running for three months as a pilot project and has been funded by Imperial’s Societal Engagement Seed Fund.