Imperial College London

Student project teaches digital skills to elderly White City residents


A student volunteer helps an elderly resident with a digital camera

'What the Tech?!', a digital literacy programme founded by Imperial students, is inviting residents to get help with their computers and gadgets.

The tech drop-in sessions are run by Hannah Magdziarek from the Dean’s Office at Imperial College Business School, in collaboration with Helen Rowe of the Urban Partnerships Group and the Edward Woods Community Champions. Student and staff volunteers are jointly delivering the programme.

At the weekly sessiA student volunteer helps a resident with his laptopons, held at the Edward Woods Community Centre, elderly members of the local community can bring along their electronic devices – such as smartphones, tablets and laptops - to get help and support from Imperial’s student volunteers.

Students can help with a range of different skills, from how to send photos and create videos, to how to download apps, as well as advising residents about how to be safe online.

Mobeen Iqbal, volunteer and Doctoral student at the Business School, explains: “What The Tech?! has been a fantastic opportunity for students to step out of university and give back to the community. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed meeting the elderly residents of the Edward Woods community and truly value the learning experience this project has offered. I look forward to helping this initiative grow and continue finding ways for university students to give back to the community across all age groups.”

A resident using a smart phone getting advice from a volunteer

Hannah Magdziarek said: “What The Tech?! makes people happy for all sorts of reasons. All the smiling faces of participants and volunteers at the end of each session are priceless. It’s fantastic that Imperial College has created an opportunity and environment for its students and staff to get involved in volunteering.”

'What The Tech?!' was awarded funding by the College’s Societal Engagement Seed Fund and is now running for the second time after  a successful pilot earlier this year.

Interaction and collaboration: White City Campus

The College has made a long-term commitment to White City and the wider local community as part of the development of its new White City Campus, which will provide a new home for research and learning.

Last month saw the opening of The Invention Rooms, a dedicated community and innovation space, at White City. The first of its kind in the UK, The Invention Rooms represents a new and unprecedented approach to community engagement and outreach, combined with cutting-edge research and innovation all under one roof.

It will bring members of the local community together with Imperial’s academics, students, alumni and partners to test out creative ideas, build real prototypes and share in fun of making and discovery.

Read more about Imperial’s work in the latest White City community newsletter.

Anyone who would like to find out more about the College’s programme of community engagement can contact


Dan West

Dan West
Estates Division

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