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Getting Started in Schools

Getting Started - Switching Older People On To New Technologies An Intergenerational Project for Schools

Age Action is a charity which promotes positive ageing and better policies and services for older people. Working with, and on behalf of older people, we aim to make Ireland the best place in the world in which to grow older.

Age Action’s award-winning Getting Started programme helps older people to embrace new technologies by training volunteers to provide one to one tuition to them in basic IT skills.

Since 2006, our volunteers have trained over 30,000 older people (aged 55 and over) across Ireland to use computers, digital devices and the internet – opening up whole new worlds and opportunities for them.

Get involved - Make a real difference to older people’s lives!

By partnering with the Getting Started programme schools around Ireland can help us to continue providing learning opportunities for older people, bridge the digital divide, beat exclusion and isolation and increase independence and equality for older people across Ireland. 

Many older people have a genuine fear of computers, and providing one to one tuition has helped many overcome this fear because they are able to learn at their own pace. Our learner-centred programme has proven very successful with older people.

How the programme works

Beginner computer classes for older people can be run in your school’s computer classroom, providing volunteer opportunities for transition year students who will be trained by Age Action to tutor one-to-one with an older person. Classes are for older people with little or no computer experience and students just need to have basic IT skills.

Suggested class sizes could be 6 to 10 older learners and 6 to 10 student tutors but class sizes can vary depending on the size of the computer room. You need to have space for two people to sit at each computer, the tutor and older learner.  

The training room would need to have Wi-Fi as many older people like to bring their own laptops and other devices to the classes. Where possible, it would also be good if a WiFi login could be used that enabled the learner to view Facebook, YouTube, etc.

Frequently Asked Questions

Will the school have to find older people for the class?

Not necessarily. Although some schools enjoy engaging in the project at the beginning by creating their own flyers and sharing on their own social media – (a fun project for TY in and of itself), Age Action also has waiting lists of older people who would like to learn IT skills.

Once the time and dates have been agreed with the school, Age Action will contact the older learners and place them on the course.

Will training be provided to the students?

An Age Action project officer will provide training to the students. This training takes approximately 45 minutes and students will be provided with a tutor handbook with easy to follow lesson plans.

There are also a number of other Getting Started computer training resources available online here. Each older learner will also receive a handbook for the course.  

How often do the classes run?

Our basic IT programme provides up to 10 hours of training for older people. We suggest you run the course once a week for 90 minutes for 7 weeks or 120 minutes for 5 weeks.

Ideally the classes would be in the mornings, as older people learn better earlier in the day. Some schools have a tea break half way through the class to give the older people the opportunity to meet each other and it also brings a social element to the programme. 

Will the student get recognition?

Yes. Students will receive a certificate in recognition of their volunteer work, which can be presented at an awards night or at the end of the class and the older learners will also receive a certificate for completing the class.

This is an ideal time to take some photos of the programme which can be used for publicity of the programme and of the school. The older learners will also be asked to fill out a short evaluation form at the last class.

Is there any cost involved?

No. Training materials will be provided free of charge by Age Action and the classes will be free for all attending, as the programme is funded by the Department of Communications, Climate Action & Environment.

Benefits for Older People

  • Overcoming their fear of technology
  • Confidence in using the internet helps older people stay active, healthy and less isolated
  • Information technology offers opportunities to connect, communicate and stay in touch with family and friends.
  • The internet offers greater consumer choice, convenience and savings for older people

Benefits for Schools

  • The opportunity for transition year student to volunteer on the school premises
  • The programme is a positive intergenerational project

Meet some of our volunteer learners and tutors from Gaelcholáiste Mhuire Cork

Getting Started with Gaelcholáiste Mhuire Cork

How to get your school involved

Fill out our form and one of our Getting Started team will be in touch about bringing the programme to your school!

There are more than 600,000 people aged over 65 in Ireland but less than 25 per cent of this age group use the internet. Working together, we can change this.

For more information please contact: or Telephone 01 475 6989 

We can put you in touch with schools that have run the programme to hear first-hand how it works.  

Become a Partner

Are you a School or Corporate Business and interested in hosting Getting Started classes in your location?