Using a Futures Method to Improve an Older Adult’s Computer Learning Program: Lessons for a Beginning Futurist

by Michael Nycyk


Computers, especially the Internet, have had a significant role in changing human
behaviours. A healthy knowledge-based net-society, with widespread computer and other
technologies use, is a desirable future goal that potentially brings benefits to society (Duma
& Monda, 2013). This must include older adults, those over 60 years of age, who are a
growing cohort of computer users.
To anticipate their needs, futures studies methods offer ways of improving the practices
of those who teach older adults computer skills. However, for a beginning futurist with
no formal training in these methods, it meant drawing on the experiences of others in
the field from journals such as this. I argue that it is possible for the beginner to apply
futures methods to the problem of anticipating older adults’ computer training needs.
To demonstrate this I use Jennifer Coote’s (2012) methods from “A Simple Guide to
Futurewatching” published in this journal.
I also reflect on the journey of using futures methods drawing on the work of Peter Saul
(2009) in his essay “My Journey as a Futurist” also published in this journal. The question
asked in this essay is, with limited futures training and experience, am I on the path to
being a futurist and can I contribute to this field? The idea to write about this experience is
inspired by the challenge Ramos (2012), put forth. This challenge was that the futures field
is, and should be, flexible to welcome new ways of doing futures studies that will benefit an
industry or humankind. This essay seeks to meet this challenge.
Older adults’ future computer needs: A topic for futures investigations
Technological change always affects human activity and one’s daily life and will
continue to do so. Therefore, it is important to study potential impacts of technological
change on older adults. Building scenarios about how technology will affect people and
planning for it is vital as computers and the Internet further infiltrate our daily lives. Older
adults are in need of this support as they grow in numbers wanting and needing to use

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