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MODLA and the Senior Learning Network


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What DL project is your institution working on?

Can distance learning ease the loneliness of social isolation? We’re willing to bet it does. With 10,000 people a day heading into retirement for the next 16 years there is a great need to engage our retired population. Social isolation is known to decrease longevity and has been associated with elevated blood pressure, C-reactive protein, and fibrinogen and with heightened inflammatory and metabolic responses to stress. 

The Senior Learning Network was designed to meet this need.  It provides live, interactive learning opportunities to older adults. This is done in two ways. Our Educational Network offers programs from museums, government, and private agencies.  Our Open Windows component seeks older adults to share their experiences and talents with others. Our target audience is primarily senior centers, independent and long-term care facilities and community centers where there are adults with limited mobility.
Recently the technology has become available to connect individuals with IP addresses – no special equipment needed. This opens up programming for shut-in or anyone who would like to learn. 

What do you see as the greatest value of DL/EdTech?
Connecting a group of people to learning opportunities and online clubs can bring a since of belonging to those who see and talk to a limited number people. The opportunity to share their life work, interests, or history or to join a service team and tutor children online, or help raise awareness gives purpose and meaning to those who may be limited in their physical ability to be involved.  We want to empower the disengaged to live more meaningful and fuller lives. 

What do you see as the biggest challenge to the growth of DL/EdTech?
There are gatekeepers in any institution who don’t want things to change or are afraid of how they might have to change. Fear is the biggest roadblock. However, we have found that once they have a first hand experience and we show them how easy it is – they easily become advocates!    

Name one person you follow on Twitter.
Most people we follow are senior centers but there is a radio show called The Connect Show with Jeanne White. We will be doing any interview with her soon.

Coolest DL/EdTech news you’ve encountered this week?
Mobento (which has all the Khan Academy videos) has launched a new media player and mobile apps for its library of educational videos. This really extends its usability for students!

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