Oxford Brookes Business School students have been bridging the digital generation gap by sharing their expertise with older adults.

Inspired by a research project led by Oxford Brookes Business School professors Sarah Quinton and Daniela Treveri-Gennari, which explored how older individuals use photo sharing to combat loneliness, the Business School started termly workshops. 

The aim of these workshops was to empower older people to engage with digital platforms.

Oxford Mail: The workshops covered basic tasks such as online shopping, paying bills and ticket booking The workshops covered basic tasks such as online shopping, paying bills and ticket booking (Image: Oxford Brookes University)

Launched in 2022 in collaboration with the Oxford 50+ network, the workshops help participants navigate digital platforms.

They cover basic online tasks such as shopping, email attachments, bill payments, ticket bookings, and photo sharing on social media.

Participants have seen tangible benefits such as learning to download apps which helped them navigate Oxford's bus services better using their mobile devices.

One participant, Di Shaw, has also learned how to text, improving her communication with friends, particularly those in hospital.

In recognition of the students' work , a celebratory event, sponsored by the British Gerontology Society, was held at Oxford Brookes.

The students received certificates for their participation and heard from some of the older community attendees about the benefits they received from the workshops.

Thames Valley Police gave talks on digital security while charity Aspire discussed their efforts to address digital poverty and to provide refurbished devices.

Lisa Hale, deputy associate dean, education and student experience at Oxford Brookes Business School said: "The digital skills workshops that are led and run by our students and volunteers are truly transformative.

"They are also a wonderful opportunity for our local senior community and students to interact on the Brookes Headington campus."

Margaret Simpson, chair of the Over 50+ Network, said: "IT is already here but if older people can’t access it and are aware of how to use the technology, they miss out on so much.

"Without access to information, people can become isolated and the digital skills workshops provided by Oxford Brookes make digital technology more inclusive."

Kassim Lukwago, an MSc management student involved in the workshops, added: "The opportunity to lead the Digital Skills workshop and work closely with fellow students has been invaluable.

"Not only have I been able to share my knowledge and expertise, but I've also learned from the diverse perspectives and experiences of those I've had the privilege to engage with.

"Building connections, fostering collaboration, and witnessing the collective growth and development of both myself and others have been the highlights of this experience.

“Being a student volunteer has not only allowed me to give back to the community but has also enriched my own personal and professional journey."