Mature students from our Experience Campus overcome the digital divide

A total of 82 students over the age of 50 enrolled this semester and successfully take their classes online using their own screens

In 2018 UIC Barcelona launched a university project so that older people could enjoy classes taught by university lecturers in our institution’s classrooms. The initiative was transformed into a three-year academic programme at a university level, including individual guidance, and individual and team work inside and outside the classroom.

Before the pandemic, classes were normally held in the UIC Barcelona facilities. However, with the outbreak of COVID-19, the university community has had to continue its studies virtually, something that has required great effort for Experience Campus students.

Teaching mature students their classes online seemed a complicated and never previously contemplated option, but the reality proved to be different: From September to today 82 students have taken remote classes from their homes. Despite the fact the sessions were remote, student participation reached 80%

The remote format has also not been an impediment to the preparation and presentation of a total of 14 research projects by the mature students and 108 virtual classes were taught during the first semester, with a total of almost 35 students per session.

The digital divide was certainly overcome for our Experience Campus students due to the help they received during their online classes at an individual level. Young volunteers helped them connect through virtual platforms.

Although everyone wants to return to classroom teaching, the Experience Campus director says that “students have made a lot of progress in terms of ‘understanding technology’. For the moment, both the lecturers and students continue to progress and improve day by day and are managing to achieve a type of ‘virtual normality’ in the classroom.”  

During this pandemic, it is even more urgent to offer people greater opportunities such as this one to learn, to be active, and to maintain social relationships, thus leading them to overcome isolation and loneliness. Looking towards next year, the objective of the Experience Campus is to ensure that enrolments increase in comparison to last September.