e‐Inclusion initiatives from private and non‐profit European entities (VIII)

(CONTINUED FROM   9/11/12 )

ʹClick On It Grandmaʹ programme relies on a computer learning course for senior citizens developed by BCC. The programme provides practice‐oriented e‐skills learning and training courses that have been designed for and targeted to meet the special needs of senior citizens, and are also compliant to the laws on adult education. Curricula are tailored to the interests of the seniors (i.e.: practical information to help daily routine without standing in a queue, timetables, opening hours, event databases). The participants are also provided with a professionally prepared and printed 50‐page textbook with examples, exercises and additional information.

Figure 12: elderly learners at COIG seminars and events

The first course was developed as a further training for leaders of senior clubs within the BCC training courses. A short internet session was part of the training and, upon request, the 25 hour course was set up.
The mission is to ensure equal opportunities for elderly people by facilitating their access to information; to influence the image of elderly people within society; to raise the awareness of the importance of digital literacy. Specific objectives include: ensuring the chance to the older generation to learn about new ICT countrywide; offering accessible and available 25 hour course tailored to the needs of the target group; improving the course and develop further training.
One of the main goals is therefore to demonstrate to course attendants that the internet is easily learnable (in short courses), that it is a good communication tool, that there exist web content in Hungarian language for the seniors, and that the internet is an important field of the life quality.
The target groups has been identified in the seniors over 55 years.
So far, the results in terms of output have been as follows:

•Education courses are held in 20 different locations;
•Courses involve 24 hours of teaching;
•A fee of 4 EUR/head is paid by each participant;
•Maximun 10 learners for each course;
•4,000 senior learners have been reached over the past 7 years. 44


COIG has developed a customised curriculum consisting of 24 hours over a period of three weeks, is conducted by qualified instructors, and prepared by the BCC. Participants receive a professionally developed 50‐page textbook with examples, exercises and additional information. The learners’ book assist the self‐practicing and show new ways for learning. The practice‐oriented e‐skills learning and training courses developed by BCC are especially designed for and targeted to meet the special needs of senior citizens. Participants learn step by step about computers and internet, how to find relevant and useful information on the web, how to send emails and use chat, forums, discussion groups, share pictures etc. Practical courses provide a solid base of knowledge and skills set that can be deepened by further practices. At the time of the courses the majority of the participants has not yet PC or internet connection at home. For this purpose, the sites of the courses (e.g. cultural and community centers, libraries, tele‐houses) provide internet access points free of charge during and after the courses. Between the classes, learners practice together or alone in the public internet access points (PIAP) offered by the premises or at home.
Furthermore, COIG continues to engage with and educate programme participants well after they graduated from the 24‐hour course. Unique ‘self‐teaching circles’ have been formed in every city, and COIG clubs have been created, allowing current and former participants and even non‐COIG participants to get together, socialise and further develop their ICT skills. The PIAP points are able to offer consulting and further training possibilities in the COIG clubs, where educated IT‐mentors present new topics, like e‐banking, downloading photos from camera, using e‐government services in short terms. This stimulates learners to come back and use the PIAPs.
Thanks to COIG’s success, Silvernet’s mission is to build up an international and regional educational network within the Carpathian Basin and extend COIG to the Hungarian speaking regions of Romania and Slovakia.

The Budapest Cultural Centre offers a range of resources free of charge:

•Full educational package;
•Organisers’ expertise;
•Tutorial knowledge (possibility to observe as a teacher trainee);
•Printed training materials;
•Special curriculum and handouts;
•Professional consultation through the programme.

On the basis of the output produced, the initiative has also generated impactful outcome on the participants.
•Increased participation (see Graph below): UPC Hungary’s commitment to the BCC’s has significantly increased the number of seniors that benefit from the programme. Between 2002 and 2005, prior to UPC’s involvement, only maximum 100‐200 senior citizens per year benefited from the programme. In 2006, UPC’s first year of partnership with the BCC, almost the same amount (367) of seniors could benefit again from the programme than during throughout the previous four years. In 2007, the COIG programme was further expanded, with 1,200 seniors completing the course, more than 300% increase. In 2007 UPC doubled the total amount of participants between 2002 and 2006, and in 2008 they doubled again the number of the previous year (2007). In 2008 the project will provide ICT skills for almost 2,000 seniors.

Graph 1: Results – number of senior learners by edition


•Increased geographic reach (See Graph and Figure below): Prior to UPC’s support, the COIG programme was only offered in Hungary’s capital, Budapest. With UPC’s support, the BCC extended the programme beyond Budapest and set up a nationwide educational network to launch courses franchised, administrated and supervised by BCC. COIG courses are currently offered in 20 Hungarian cities, including both urban and rural settings. The locations of the premises are quite dispersed throughout the country, not restricted to only one region. From only five premises, located exclusively in the capital city in 2005, the number of the location of the courses has been expanded  to 23 in 2008. Moreover, the project stepped across the borders and started to be extended to other countries as well, with two new locations in Slovakia and Romania this year. This increased geographic inclusion has both improved the access and skills to use digital technologies across Hungary.

Graph 2: Results – number of education centres by edition


COIG’s teaching programme is based on the conviction that ICT‐graduated seniors are not e‐excluded and do not feel isolated anymore, even if they do not use internet in their daily routine. And the reason for that is that finally they manage to break through the cognitive and emotional barriers, personally experiencing and understanding what this digital/virtual world does mean and what is it for. By that they do not feel alien anymore in present society, and they are skilled to understand and even speak the language of the youngsters and they realise that they are also able to acquire and master the knowledge and ability necessary to be part of the e‐world. Finally they do not think themselves lagging behind and being useless in the society anymore.
The Budapest Cultural Centre wants to cultivate the community cultural sector in Hungary to provide higher level services for the residents (especially for lower educated classes). In this aim they developed an educational package that is a convenient tool to adapt the programme and the methodology of teaching seniors to ICT use. They are now used to it as they have been running it for years so far, gradually increasing the number of premises, teachers and courses in different locations and in different type of premises. The network raises the number of the educational premises every year, and trainings for trainers are organised regularly, as new partner organisations are involved in the project.
The project coordinator joined several European programmes to share and further develop the project. Within an EC’s Life‐Long Programme project the two partners started adapting the project in the Slovak Republic and Romania. There is a chance that with the help of UPC Slovakia and Romania they will be able to establish country‐wide education network in those two countries, as well.

Since 2006 the main Funding for COIG comes from UPC, providing 50.000 euro a year. Previously and also today a variety of other funding have been secured, but all of a very limited amount, they include EU LLL programme, small contribution from the local district, charities and voluntary contributions, plus the 4 euro fee paid by participants. Over the 7 year period the total amount of funding received was 210,000 €, plus a 4 euro fee paid by each participant. However, the long term sustainability of the programme is ensured mainly by the UPC funding.
The key success factors of the programme are quality of the organisation (including complaint management), venue, trainer(s), method, duration, fee. More specifically:

•Duration of the course: 6 weeks (1 day/4 lessons/week);
•No previous experience is needed;
•Practice in the computer room;
•Providing notes and handouts that are regularly improved;
•There is a continuous effort to make the program as accessible as possible;
•The curriculum is tailored to the older learners’ needs;
•Small learning group (6, max 10 learners);
•Measurement of satisfaction and taking account of feedback / opinions;
•Developing positive and encouraging attitude;
•Ensuring a good atmosphere and creating a real community of people;
•Ensuring consultation during and after the programme;
•The course is followed by an exam, to which virtual grandchildren also participate;
•Participants get a certificate after passing the exam;
•Participants are encouraged to set up a personal homepage.
Furthermore, the COIG initiative is successful in taking account of the social context, its impact on the community, in being innovative and in embracing all users, co‐operating with others, sharing the learning experience, and ensuring long‐term sustainability.

The main barrier has been the lack of finance (from the state and from local authorities). Therefore, despite the organisations’ intention to make the programme course as accessible as participants still have to pay a symbolic fee (EUR 3). This is in addition to the funding it receives from public authorities.

The interview touched on the policy dimension by asking to what extent COIG was coordinated with, supported by, national level policies. The answers, for what concerns the national level, provide a picture that was confirmed also during interviews with the other two  Hungarian initiatives. According to the interviewees, while COIG was included twice as best practice in the official Hungarian national report on e‐Inclusion, they have received no funding from the national government. They affirmed that in their opinion there is currently no coordination between the national government and the private sector and third sector on matter of e‐Inclusion because the current government has no focus on this area. They claimed that since the Ministry of Informatics was disbanded in 2006 and all matters related to the Information Society transferred to the Prime Minister Office, the policy related to e‐Inclusion lost importance. Between 2003 and 2006 the Ministry of Informatics had an important impact and supported development in the field, which is now lost. A Parliamentary Committee on digital inclusion was set up, which is not very effective, according to the interviewees.
Both Mr. Gabor and Mr. Szucs saw as an important role for the Commission that of spreading best practices and of helping practitioners in the field learn from each other. It is interesting to note that neither of them was aware of the existence of the ePractice.eu initiative. When showed the ePractice portal, Mr. Gabor (the project manager) said it is interesting but added that in his view the Commission should also support the possibility to exchange experience directly through meetings and face‐to‐face interactions.
They also thought that it would be easier to have one common source of EU funding for e‐Inclusion initiatives, as currently they have to follow and pursue different programmes.
The idea of an high level task force set up from the Commission was considered positive but the UPC representative was sceptical about the possibility of coordinating the CSR programmes of different private players to reach synergies, for each company wants to have its brand and is not likely to share/coordinate with competitors. He quoted the example of T‐com (the Hungarian telco incumbent) which copied the COIG and launched its own initiatives instead of collaborating to the already existing COIG (so far unable to secure any form of support from T‐com).


Tech4i2 Ltd:
David Osimo
Annalisa De Luca
Cristiano Codagnone

About sooteris kyritsis

Job title: (f)PHELLOW OF SOPHIA Profession: RESEARCHER Company: ANTHROOPISMOS Favorite quote: "ITS TIME FOR KOSMOPOLITANS(=HELLINES) TO FLY IN SPACE." Interested in: Activity Partners, Friends Fashion: Classic Humor: Friendly Places lived: EN THE HIGHLANDS OF KOSMOS THROUGH THE DARKNESS OF AMENTHE
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