OPCommICT4AWE 2016 Abstracts

Paper Nr: 2

Adult education, the use of ICTs and the impact on quality of life: a case study


Lara Gitto

Abstract: Background In recent decades, the Quality of Life (QoL) has become a relevant topic for researchers and social policy makers, who try to develop programs aimed at maintaining people’s satisfaction and happiness. At the same time, the analysis of the activities performed by the population in the elderly age is of interest for social policy makers: when retired, adults have more time for other activities apart from work, and these activities give them satisfaction in the moment of adaptation to old age. Elderly people are willing to learn for various reasons: they may want to find out about a given subject; to understand modern society and keep the pace with changes; to avoid exclusion; to remain active and creative. On the other hand, institutions offer this kind of educational activity because they know that they are beneficial for senior citizens and help them to be more active and participative. Together with traditional classes, there are interactive classes aimed at making individuals familiar with the use of personal computer, tablet, smartphone; people can learn to surf on the internet, to use electronic mail, to keep in touch with their relatives, to log in institutional websites, so that the access to public services is easier: there are savings of resources, because people can manage their bank accounts, bill payments, etc., directly from home, and, overall, an increase in the QoL. Objectives and methods The present study has been carried out within a wider project aimed at evaluating the quality of life in the population of over 60 years old enrolled at the Libera Università della Terza Età (LUTE) in the province of Messina, Sicily, Italy. Individuals were asked to fill a questionnaire compounded of two parts: the first part concern general information and socio economic variables; further, the participants to the survey had to provide information related to the educational initiatives and the courses attended at the LUTE and their knowledge and current use of ICTs. The second part of the questionnaire is made of validated scales used to assess quality of life (EuroQol-5D, VAS, WHOQOL Bref). The relationship between quality of life, socio economic variables, use of ICTs and the judgments given to the educational programs has been tested with a correlation analysis. Results The results of the analysis describe the benefits obtained by attending courses and recreational initiatives and by getting used to ICTs. The participation to more activities is an adaptive strategy taken by older adults to compensate for social and physical deficits in their life. There is a positive approach to the use of ICT too: moreover, people are encouraged to be familiar with the new technologies, given that the most of communications and the easier way to interact with the LUTE itself is through emails, web messages and posts on the LUTE website. These encouraging outcomes, related to learning and, overall, to the participants’ wellbeing, can be especially appreciated considering that the courses and educational initiatives can count on the contribution offered by volunteers, and represent an improvement of QoL obtained at null or very low costs.