Children Tutoring Seniors
at Internet Skills: An Experiment Conducted at
One Israeli Elementary School. 2000 - 3
Prof. Edna Aphek, Jerusalem, Israel
Getting Seniors to participate
I have already mentioned that the Alon school is part of the
Mate Yehuda Regional Council.
In order to reach interested Third Agers we met with the head
of the education department and with the coordinator of senior
activities in the council. The latter advertised the project
in the various towns and settlements, including Kibbutzim
in the region and soon we had 10 candidates, all 55+.
Preparing for the implementation of the experiment
The next step was to find a teacher who would run the project
in the school and serve as a liaison between me and the children
and between the children and the seniors. Michal who is a
Kibbutz member, a teacher and who also works at the Kibbutz
guesthouse, was appointed head of project. Marilyn, the school's
computer coordinator volunteered to come and help every
other week. Michal and myself had several meetings and decided
upon the following steps:
- developing criteria for choosing the young
- training the young teachers
- deciding upon topics to be taught
- choosing methods of teaching
- documenting the experiment
Using a closed network, in Hebrew, as a platform
for communication and documentation
In addition to frequent use of the Internet for school work,
the Alon school is using The FirstClass outdated 2.6 version
as its "intranet". Unfortunately there are no good
intranets in Hebrew and though the SoftArc Firstclass software
in Hebrew doesn't contain many much desired features it still
is, I believe, the best "intranet" one could find
The Alon students are connected to the TelHi network, at school
and from home.A forum for the experiment was opened on the
network. Each old learner was given an ID and a password,
so that they would become part of the school's on line community.
We also wanted to make sure that the process would be fully
documented both by the "young teachers" and the
This paper is based upon the careful documentation of the
process, as written in the aforementioned forum.
Michal met with the school's Computer and Net Committee and
told the members of the committee about the project. She asked
them to help recruit the "young teachers". A suggestion
was made to use the school's "intranet" to publicize
the project.A decision was made to take only volunteers, knowledgeable
in Internet skills, but first and foremost kind and patient.
Ten children 5th grade to 8th grade, boys and girls, volunteered
to come to school on their day off to teach the Third Agers.
Fearing some of the children will get tired after a couple
of sessions we had 5 more volunteers as stand by.
Meeting with the ''young teachers"
Michal and myself met with the "young teachers".
We emphasized the importance of being patient, speaking clearly
and loud, allowing time for practice, not helping the old
learners, unless asked for,( children tend to click the mouse
instead of waiting for adults who might be somewhat slower)
and documenting the learning process.Together, the children,
Michal and myself, decided upon terms and topics to be taught.
Each child prepared a file for his/her student including a
glossary of Internet terms and a list of search engines.
The course duration was 5 weeks.
The "young teachers" and the "old learners"
met on Fridays. The Alon school, unlike most of the Israeli
schools operates 5 days only as part of an experiment conducted
by the Ministry of Education.The "young teachers"
were ready to give up their day off in order to train the
seniors. They had to get up early, and be ready for the school
bus to come and pick them up.
Each session lasted 3 hours from 8:30-11:30 with one break
around 9:45. During the break teachers and students had the
opportunity to eat, drink and socialize.
The first meeting was held on May 25, 1999.
The headmistress of the Alon school opened the session and
gave the participants a short survey of the history of the
One of the parents of the "young teachers" videotaped
At the end of each meeting both teachers and learners documented
the learning and teaching process in the forum dedicated for
this project, in the TelHi network.
The following are most of the comments, suggestions and instructions
as documented in the aforementioned forum.
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