We believe that Apps on a smartphone can be a very valuable, life-enhancing resource for older adults, but that it is hard to discover which Apps are and are not useful for this demographic.
We are setting out to make the benefits of smartphones and tablets easily available for older adults and Boomers through a combination of analysis, teaching, and sharing the experiences of their peers.
The Tech-enhanced Life analyst team, with inputs from our Longevity Explorer Circles, are working though all the things older adults can do with a smartphone and picking out the best. We are testing the apps and finding which ones work and which ones do not, from the perspective of an older adult. Our goal is to turn this work into an ever growing library of learning material designed to help unlock the potential of smartphones and tablets for older adults and Boomers.
A Blend of Expert Analysis and Crowd-sourced Feedback
An important part of our Useful Apps for Older Adults Research comes from a group of analysts and technologists interested in doing comparative analysis of different Apps, and uncovering the best ones for specific individuals and specific needs. In some cases when we think it will be useful, we are creating simple video tutorials on how to use those Apps. This material is accessible on the Tech-enhanced Life website for members of our Useful Apps Club.
In addition, some of the members of our Longevity Explorer community take part in monthly face-to-face Apps for Older Adults Exploration classes, led by one of our Tech-enhanced Life analysts. In these face-to-face exploration classes, our explorers get exposure to new Apps, learn how to download them and use them, and then try them out themselves between monthly classes, and report back to the group on their experiences.
In many cases, the experiences of our Longevity Explorers lead to insights that we then try and incorporate into our online content. So members of our Useful Apps Club get to learn not only from our “experts”, but also from the Longevity Explorers, who in many cases are their peers.
How our Apps for Older Adults Explorations Work
Every few months, we start exploring a new “theme” — a field in which we think Apps can make a difference to the everyday life of older adults.
The ultimate goal of our work for each theme is to uncover specific Apps that can improve an older adult’s quality of life in the area covered by the “theme”. And then create content designed to help our members learn how to take advantage of this new App (or handful of Apps).
For each theme, our explorations consist of several steps:
- We spend some time talking about and thinking about the “needs” we as older adults have in a specific area;
- We go out and find all the promising looking Apps that might help meet those needs;
- We do some comparative analysis, using our own hands-on testing as well as reading reviews online, to narrow down the list to a handful that look promising;
- We introduce the Apps in our monthly App Exploration Classes, teach how to use the App, and learn from the reactions of our Explorers how to refine the analyses;
- We synthesize the findings into a “this is the most useful App to do xxx” article, or some other high level summary designed to save our members the time and trouble of doing all this testing themselves.
- And if we think the App is sufficiently valuable, we may add some simple tutorials on how to use the App.
Stay tuned as we expand on this as we develop our research process further.
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