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Children Tutoring Seniors at Internet Skills: An Experiment Conducted at One Israeli Elementary School. 2000
Prof. Edna Aphek, Jerusalem, Israel


Abstract
The Internet which connects about 200 million people and millions of pages, voice, sound, image and video files has become a most powerful tool in the hands of those who know how to navigate it. The opportunity to use this powerful tool exists and is open to most strata of the population, regardless of the limitations of age, education, etc. Though the opportunity exists what actually happens is that the gap between Internet surfers and those who are not knowledgeable in Internet skills, is ever-growing. The gap is widening between youngsters, the primary Internet user population, and adults and mostly seniors, who are not skilled at using a computer or the Internet.

In the new Hi-Tech world, where children speak the new language of the Internet as their mother tongue, it would be most fitting to put their mastery to good use and train them to teach this new language to senior citizens, those unacquainted with the language of the Internet.
This latter age group might find much interest and relevant, useful information via the net; they can study on-line, meet new people via the Internet, find useful information, participate in on-line interest groups, and contribute from their experience and knowledge and most importantly feel connected.
An experiment was conducted in one elementary school in Israel, the Alon School in 1999, where ten Seniors were tutored by ten children aged 11-14.

In the L'ouverture school in Wichita, Kansas, Anna is teaching Internet skills to six adults. Anna is 9 years old, she is in 3rd grade. Anna and her classmates taught Internet skills to 60 adults, in one year. (1) We are now at a unique crossroads in human history. Due to the innovative developments in technology and especially in information technology (IT) young children master very often computer and Internet skills far better than adults. It's the adults who are like immigrants in a new country, the country of Hi-Tech. As often is the case in a country absorbing immigrants it's the children who teach their parents the local language. (2) In the L'ouverture school students learn Internet skills in kindergarten. By the time they attend 3rd grade, every child has his/her homepage, which they themselves built, on the Internet.

In this Hi-Tech world where children are fluent in the internet language as if it were their mother tongue, it would most appropriate to put their knowledge to good use and to have them train others, in this case adults, in the language of IT.
The Knowledge Shift wherein children master knowledge much needed by adults, is creating new learning and social interactions.
This paper is about intergeneration interactions.
In many schools, in different countries, children teach Internet skills to their parents and to other adults. In the Zippori Center near Jerusalem, a unique summer camp took place last summer.
It was an Internet summer camp for grandparents and their grandchildren. The young ones brought their mastery of technology and the grandparents their knowledge of the English language, which is still the lingua franca of the Internet. In Israel, as you may know, the language spoken is Hebrew.
Another experiment that of elementary school children training seniors in Internet skills was conducted in the Alon school, in Israel, last year- May-June 1999.

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