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Digital Divides: Older Adults and Digital Literacy

Older adults are less likely to use the internet than younger people living in Canada, and many report that information technologies do not improve their quality of life or save time. Attitudes toward digital technologies reflect the lack of knowledge about how programs work or information can be protected. A significant portion of people living in Canada report never being taught crucial digital literacy skills. Especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, the issue is more pertinent than ever before: older adults are facing the risk of increased social isolation as community gatherings have shifted to online-only formats.  

What policy solutions could help mitigate barriers faced by older adults in online access and digital literacy? How can digital literacy programs become more inclusive of older adults?

Join us to hear community and industry representatives discuss what is impeding internet access among older adults and how digital literacy programs can enhance safe internet use for everyone living in Canada. The discussion will be followed by breakout rooms focused on workshopping innovative policy solutions to bridge divides in digital access and literacy between older and younger generations.

Guest speakers

When

Wednesday, April 28, 2021

9:00 AM (PT)

Online event

After registration, you will receive the information to log-in to the conversation one day before the event.

Accessibility

All our workshops will have closed captioning in English. If you have any questions about accessibility, please contact leadershiplab@ryerson.ca.

Other considerations

This session will be recorded and will be shared with registrants after the event with the event transcript.

Virginia Bosomworth

Past President of the LIFE Institute

Prior to retiring,  Virginia “Ginny” Bosomworth, held senior leadership positions in the U.S. Financial Services industry before launching her own consulting practice in Canada.

Enabling people to contribute at their maximum potential while driving value for the organization is Ginny’s passion. Ginny has designed and delivered programs throughout her career and later as a volunteer to link strategy with performance outcomes, resulting in improvements to the bottom line and engagement among participants. Most recently, Ginny served as president of The LIFE Institute, a Toronto based not for profit, charitable organization dedicated to providing lifelong learning opportunities to older adults by offering a wide range of courses, activities and related opportunities to volunteer.

Presently, Ginny is engaged in international development work (as a volunteer) to create access to education for kids in Honduras and also as a new farmer in Canada with the intent of providing land access to young aspiring farmers to enable a sustainable future.

Virginia holds a Master of Arts in Diplomacy and International Commerce and a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Kentucky.

Michel Mersereau

Post Doctoral Fellow at the Faculty of Information, University of Toronto

Michel received his Ph.D. in 2020 from the Faculty of Information at the University of Toronto. Michel’s research focuses on the role of the internet in facilitating access to essential services, needs and goods, as well as the broader policy implications associated with digital inequity. Michel’s prior research explored the role of the internet in supporting the basic needs activities of residents at the Toronto Community Housing Corporation, and at Toronto’s Native Mens Residence.

Caroline Grammer

Professor at Seneca College in the Faculty of Applied Arts & Sciences, Department of Community Services

Caroline Grammer has an Honours Bachelor of Psychology (with neuroscience focus and biomedical ethics) from the University of Toronto, a Bachelor of Social Work from University of Victoria, and a Master of Social Work with UBC. She is a full-time professor at Seneca College in the Faculty of Applied Arts & Sciences, Department of Community Services, cross-appointed to the Social Service Worker Gerontology diploma program and the Bachelor in Therapeutic Recreation program since 2005.

Through her Bachelor of Social Work she began working with Indigenous and youth populations living in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver who were AIDS/HIV+, eventually following them into palliative care, which brought her to St. Paul’s Hospital to study and work with the palliative social worker and biomedical ethics team on supporting patients dying of AIDS in the ‘90s under heavy stigma and fear, and working with the underground cannabis network to provide pain relief for the patients and clients with the only method of pain relief that worked. She transitioned from clients with AIDS to the older adult palliative population who remained invisible in institutional settings, and began her work to raise awareness and develop palliative programs in long-term care homes in Vancouver along with a strong team of experts and advocates.

Caroline has also been a practicing psychotherapist for the past 20 years, working with individuals, families and couples, using cognitive behavioural therapy, focusing on trauma, depression, anxiety, grief, and geriatric and caregiver issues. She has been a gerotechnology consultant (one of Canada’s few) for the past 25 years, engaged with global think-tanks on how technology can allow for aging in place. She designs and implements studies to test industry technology with older adults and run clinical trials on medical-grade technology that assists older adults in maintaining or improving their mobility and independence.

In her “free time” she is a single mom who raises two marvelous teens who provide daily entertainment for her during the current COVID-19 lockdown.

Eric Craven

Community Development Librarian and Digital Literacy Project Coordinator, Atwater Library and Computer Centre

Eric Craven is the Community Development Librarian at the Atwater Library and Computer Centre in Montreal. He completed his MLIS at McGill University. Eric’s work focuses specifically on using digital media to disrupt normative expectations and perceptions in the community.  For the past 10 years, as coordinator of the Digital Literacy Project, he has created programming that directly responds to community needs, creating spaces for participants to express themselves, find new ways to talk about things important to them and to help them build their own communities and work towards their own goals through creative digital media projects. This includes a series of projects focused on gender intersections with economy, gender-based sexual violence and gender-based cyberviolence. Eric has worked with a wide range of academic and community stakeholders bringing different groups of people together, ages 6 through 96, to express themselves through digital art and media including many immersive community new media projects focusing on engaging seniors with video and sound.

Karen Wong

Researcher, Science and Technology, for Aging Research Institute at Simon Fraser University and Clinical Advisor, 411 Seniors Centre

Karen Lok Yi Wong was trained in social policy for MA at University of York, the United Kingdom and social work for MSW at UBC, Canada. She conducted research and analyzed policies on older adults and healthcare including palliative care, long-term care and family caregiving and published and presented widely academically and professionally. She is currently affiliated with Simon Fraser University Science and Technology for Aging Research (STAR) Institute.

She is a registered social worker in BC, Canada and has been practicing in diverse settings related to older adults such as home support, community senior services centre and long-term care. She is currently practicing social work in Mount St Joseph Hospital.

She is a long-term volunteer of Alzheimer's Society as family support group facilitator and workshop speaker. She is serving in BC Association of Social Workers Multicultural and Anti-raciat Committee and Seniors Community of Practice. She is also the clinical advisor of 411 Seniors Society.

Reading List

Read a short framing paper put together by our partners that lays out the context, evidence and importance of these discussions.

Partners

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