Although there were fears that seniors might have difficulties adapting, online studies during the pandemic have encouraged them to deepen their knowledge of computer literacy.
Regina Čirickaitė is a Polish language teacher at the University of the Third Age in Panevėžys, northern Lithuania. During the first quarantine, her classes were cancelled. But now, students have expressed a desire to learn at a distance.
“Not everyone has an email or knows how to use a computer well, so it is difficult for some. But I am getting more and more responses from students saying that the online material is useful,” the teacher said.
Čirickaitė’s students Valerija and Liuda study together in the park. They watch online classes on a smartphone.
“We use various apps. Some use Zoom or WhatsApp, others use emails. Of course, it’s a bit more difficult [than traditional learning],” said Liuda Balabonienė.
“Those who wanted to learn, learned and use [technology]. There are only a few who have difficulties. We talk to them on the phone,” Valerija Bilienė added.
Inga Žemaitienė organises computer literacy courses for seniors. According to her, during the first quarantine, it has already become clear that the elderly need to be able to use technology to communicate with their relatives and study.
Among Lithuanian seniors, Facebook is the most popular online platform. Most of the activities for the elderly, such as art therapy and dance lessons, have transferred there during the quarantine.
Lithuania’s Third Age Universities offer free education to seniors across the country. According to the European Commission, there were 67 such institutions in Lithuania in 2018.