Students from John Howitt Elementary School will team up with seniors from Abbeyfield House, Fir Park and Echo Villages over the next three months to explore educational apps using iPads.
Dubbed Tech Buddies, the program helps bridge the digital gap for seniors in the Alberni Valley, and offers learning opportunities for school-aged participants.
By using digital technology and team building exercises, Tech Buddies helps students and seniors alike reach different but very closely related outcomes, says project coordinator Craig Brooks, a teacher on call in School District 70.
“The most obvious goal for students is to generate a greater understanding of this technology and learn how to use this tool to further their education. For seniors, the goal is to introduce them to this technology in a relaxed setting and demonstrate for them the practical and positive implications of mobile technology in everyday life.”
While the seniors may not grasp the technology as fast as the children, the kids will learn about the educational concepts from the seniors, he said.
“The great equalizer is the apps the kids are going to be using in the future, they don’t know anything about either.
“We marvel at how tech savvy the new generation of youngsters has become. It seems that kids are born with the latest gadgets in their hands. For most of us who are not ‘plugged in,’ this makes technology somewhat intimidating,” he said.
What makes Tech Buddies so unique is its method of bridging this ‘digital divide’ between young and old. By partnering seniors and young students, they have a perfect opportunity to learn from each other while exploring technology.
“It is wonderful to see the relationships being formed with all the participants,” Brooks said.
Maggie Hodge Kwan (Children & Youth Customer Services Librarian within VIRL) and Stacey Manson (Principal of John Howitt School) together with Stephanie Spring (Grade 3 and 4 Teacher) were the first to identify the need for a project like this in Port Alberni, while Brooks was brought in as project coordinator to bring their vision to life.
On March 25, at John Howitt Elementary, the Tech Buddies inaugural session kicked off with over 40 enthusiastic participants. The first session allowed students to learn basic iPad operation, play Social Bingo and create a real life comic book as their end assignment for the day. Everyone’s eagerness to get involved and work together was evident throughout the class.
Community based programs are not be possible without the participation and sponsorship of local businesses and community leaders, and Tech Buddies is no exception. Tech Buddies was made possible through the generous sponsorship provided by Literacy Alberni.
The iPads were provided by the library and SD70.