On the second day of the virtual European Conference on Information Literacy (ECIL2021) I presented as part of a sesion focusing on older people and information literacy. My presentation, Older People in the “Post-Truth” Era: Countering Ageism by Developing Age Friendly Media and Information Literate Cities (#AFMIL), was co-authored with Bill Johnston and the slides are here https://www.slideshare.net/sheilawebber/older-people-in-the-posttruth-era-countering-ageism-by-developing-age-friendly-media-and-information-literate-cities-afmil. I will say more about this when I post the link to the video of the presentation. We were talking about the model that we outlined here.
There were two other presentations. After me, Kristina Eriksson-Backa (Finland) presented on Everyday Health Information Literacy and Attitudes towards Digital Health Services among Finnish Older Adults (coauthored with Farhan Ahmad, Isto Huvila, Heidi Enwald, and Noora Hirvonen). It presents results from a study which was part of the project Taking Health Information Behaviour into Account (2015-2020). Eriksson-Backa quoted some previous findings about older people and the digital e.g. in a Swedish survey those aged 65+ thought digital health services useful, but thought tech was difficult to use; that in a Norwegian survey those 65+ used electronic health services less than younger people. For this project, 373 Finns aged 55 or over responded to a survey (25% response rate) to measure their Everyday Health Information Literacy (using the EHIL survey instrument, see reference Niemelä et al. (2012) below) and attitudes towards aspects of digital healthcare (see screenshot).
Reference: Niemelä, R., Ek, S., Eriksson-Backa, K., & Huotari, M.-L. (2012). A screening tool for assessing everyday health information literacy. Libri, 62(2), 125–134. https://doi.org/10.1515/libri-2012-0009
The last speakers were Iva Zadražilová and Pavla Vizváry (Czech Republic), talking on Digital Literacy Competencies and Interests of Elderly People. They emphasised the importance of developing the ICT skills of this group, and that education and libraries can provide a crucial role. The aim of the research was to collect information on perceived digital IL and what the participants' interests were in further education about the internet etc - this could then be used to develop training sessions. A 27-item questionnaire was developed based on findings from previous qualitative research and administered to people aged 65+ and with basic computer skills. There were 717 respondents, average age 71, 81% female. Because of the latter characteristic, and also as the education level was not representative of the general population, thus the results cannot be generalised.
Participants self-evaluated their skills - the lowest self-evaluations were for communication and content creation. The researchers had hypothesised that younger respondents would have higher confidence in their digital skills, and this was demonstrated by the data at a statistically significant level. The researchers also asked whether people had learnt through self-study, with help, or through computer self-study. Contrary to what they had expected, those who had taught themselves had the most confidence. The presenter connected this finding with being able to learn about what you really needed. Asked if they were interested in further education, those participants who were confident about their skills had the most interest, rather than those who had rated their skills lower (some had no interest, and some had interest but couldn't pursue further education for personal reasons). Additionally, the higher level of completed education, the more likely the person was to be interested in improving their skills.
Asked to identify areas of interest for further education, the top 4 were: editing & sharing photos; evaluating information; dangers of information misuse; downloading photographs. Thus the interest was in active ageing topics and a recommendation was for classes which "positively reflect the elderly gaining skills to encourage active ageing". There is a role for libraries in adapting and tailoring their offerings to these more active topics, rather than just basic ICT classes.
1st image: Centre for Ageing Better: published under CC0 1.0 Universal (CC0 1.0) https://ageingbetter.resourcespace.com/pages/home.php 2nd impage: screenshot of the 2nd presentation.