Technology's making it easier for everyone to connect, even those who haven't grown up in the digital age.
Reported recently by Pro Bono Australia, The University of Melbourne's Institute for a Broadband-Enabled Society released a white paper on improving social inclusion for older people through the use of iPads and a custom-made iPad app.
The user friendly, "Enmesh" (Engagement through Media Sharing) iPad app has been designed to allow people to share photos taken with the iPad along with any captions or messages. These photos and messages could then be shared to Enmesh's interactive shared display that shows content from all the Enmesh users. One great feature of the shared display is that content can be interacted with (rotated, resized) with changes shown in real-time to other viewers.
The initial ten week trial period involved an educational process to teach the participants how to use the app, but also extended their experience by teaching them how to use Safari to find interesting online content to share with the other Enmesh users.
With the first part of the Enmesh trial over, the results have already been positive. Participants reported on the benefit of meeting new people, sharing their lives with others through photos and learning how to use other technology such as Google Maps.
While there are still challenges around the use of technology (one user thought 'airplane mode' would interfere with air traffic), further research and development will be continuing on how an app like Enmesh used within a wider social context involving face-to-face time can help improve social inclusion for older people.
You can check out the white paper that includes more findings and a more indepth description of the Enmesh app.