Technologies and social inclusion: ICT as a tool to support lifelong learning and intergenerational dialogue

From the pedagogical point of view, a relevant issue is to consider the elderly as both subjects of continuous learning, both as guardians of knowledge and skills to share, facilitated by intergenerational dialogue. New technologies can be helpful to learn a common language and to know and experiment with different content and communication strategies. The use of ICT can encourage and expand dialogue between young people and the elderly, treating both as learning subjects and carriers of content, experiences, methodologies, languages ​​and representations that can break down barriers and promote the exchange of knowledge and expertise.

The development of democratic and inclusive societies is facilitated also through these channels of dialogue, which can stimulate new social networking and sense of community (Folgheraiter, 2006; Blanchard, 2007) from interactive and collaborative learning (Kagan, 2000).

This logic not only promotes lifelong learning approach, which is discussed in many European documents, but also supports life-wide learning (in formal, non-formal and informal reality of learning). In order for this to be supported, we need innovative proposals and attention to social changes, that keep people at the center of the process of interaction and learning.

“Giving voice” to learning, skills and knowledge that elder people have acquired during their lifetime and continue to acquire, between the poles of activity-autonomy and needs-dependence, means not to waste human, social and relational capital over the time (Deluigi, 2014). It also means to understand and support the reasons and the motivation to learn that may encourage the participation of the elderly, taking into account the difficulties, health status, personal interests and needs, which continue to change even during old age (Purdie-Boulton-Lewis, 2003; Lovie-Kitchin, 2006).

The ICT can be useful for:

  • open alternative channels of interaction and sharing (for example the experiences of digital storytelling);
  • allowing people to produce flexible models of learning;
  • can be used to organize knowledge and create communities which exchanging information through learn together (for example, the collaborative resources on-line);
  • exchanging languages​​, interests and personal stories;
  • creating shared knowledge and generating new skills.