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Outcomes from a peer tutor model for teaching technology to older adults



A key component of social work ethics is social justice and equitable access to resources. Increasingly, this includes access to technology. This study addresses issues related to the ‘digital divide’ by testing a peer tutor model (Technology and Aging Project, TAP2) to teach adults aged 60 and older how to use information and communication technologies (ICTs) such as email, the internet, online chat rooms and discussion groups, internet-based support groups, and voice technology and webcams. Participants from the control group of a previous programme, TAP1 (N=19) participated in a six-month computer training programme. Six participants who had successfully completed the TAP1 training were selected to be peer tutors. Data were collected from tutors and learners at baseline, three months, six months and nine months (three months after the end of training). The current study reports on learner outcomes only. Measures include computer, social support, and mental health-related outcomes. Learners reported a significant and consistent increase over time in their confidence completing certain computer-related tasks and their overall use of ICTs. Mental health and social support outcomes did not change. Overall, the peer tutor model appeared to be at least as effective as the previous staff-directed model.


Corresponding author

Address for correspondence: Amanda Toler Woodward, School of Social Work, Michigan State University, 655 Auditorium Road, East Lansing, Michigan, 48824, USA. E-mail:


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