study in reciprocity: Minimizing the digital divide and the
intergeneration gap - Children tutor seniors at computer and
internet skills and get a lesson in history - Prof. Edna Aphek,
the first article
paper describes an on going program initiated by Prof. Edna
Aphek and carried out at the Alon School in MateYehuda, in
The program aims at minimizing the intergeneration gap and
the digital divide by having elementary school children tutor
seniors at computer and internet skills and at the same time
write together with the seniors a digital "mini ebook"
based on a chapter from the senior's personal history.
The rationale of the program
1.The Hi-Tech information-oriented society is a society, which
places much emphasis on the new and the changing. In such
a world the past looses its importance. The voices of past
knowledge and experience become obsolete and the chasm between
the generations, the old generation and the young ones, becomes
new technologies have created a new situation, rather unknown
in human history. A situation wherein young children master
a skill much needed by adults in general and seniors in particular.
In the new Hi-Tech world, where children speak the new language
of the Information Technologies 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 computer and the
Knowledge endangered: the dire need for preserving knowledge
at risk of disappearance
Precious knowledge is stored in the heads of senior citizens.
Many seniors are "walking treasures" of history,
of folk art (their art work) and of music about to disappear.
The project aims at combining the vast experience and knowledge
of the seniors with the mastery of computer and internet skills
of the young ones, thus fostering new social interactions
and minimizing the generation and digital divide.
The project started in 1998 at the Alon school, in Mate
Yehuda. In this program children ages 9-13 tutor seniors at
computer and internet skills, and together, the young teachers
and their old learners write an electronic book describing
a chapter in the personal history of the senior tutee.
Thus, the element of reciprocity, wherein children tutor the
seniors at computer and the IT and learn from the seniors
about the past, becomes a key element in this project.
a. The model
The Alon model, developed in light of our work 1998-2001 is
a tri-stage model.
preparatory stage, the activity itself and summary - evaluation
1. The preparatory stage: (pre-teaching)
Training in tutoring skills: breaking down a topic into sub-
topics, learning communication skills, acceptance of the other,
distancing oneself from prejudice and stereotypes, being patient
and tolerant of lack of knowledge and slow pace, criticizing
and encouraging a learner.
A preparatory session with the seniors giving them some background
about the history of the internet and its components.
activity itself: 10 weeks.
Meeting once a week, for 3 consecutive hours.
5 weeks: tutoring the seniors at computer and internet skills.
5 weeks: writing together an E BOOK, a computerized version
of a chapter in the personal history of the senior.
This stage includes: searching the internet, encyclopaedias,
Scanning - pictures, documents, art work etc. all connected
to the seniors past history
Recording: recording what went on in the session by both the
"young teacher" and his/her tutee.
Reflecting over the session: each session ends with a discussion
with all the participants as to their feelings and suggestions
for improving the process.
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