Digital Technology and Older People: Facilitating and Encouraging Safe and Fun Adoption
Room: Meeting room 1
10.00 Coffee 
10.30 Welcome and introductions
10.45 Keynote
“Making technology work for people is easier than making people work for technology, or is it?”, Maurice Mulvenna, Professor of Computer Science at Ulster University.
11.30 Papers Presentations
  • Mark Springett, Suzette Keith and Gill Whitney: “Game-based introductory learning: teaching digital skills to older people” 
  • Bilal Ahmad, Ita Richardson, Simon McLoughlin and Sarah Beecham: “Assessing the level of adoption of a social network system for older adults”
  • Marias Garcia-Constantino, Jordan Synnott, Chris Nugent, Austen Burns, Mike Little and Deepak Samson: “The desirability of the use of technology to prevent social isolation of adults.”
  • James Richardson and Tom French: “A community-level perspective on digitally and socially including older citizens”
13.15 Lunch
14.00 Discussion session
Addressing barriers to digital adoption in practice: What are the key challenges?
15.00 Coffee 
15.45 Results from discussion
16.15 The way forward
16.30 End

Digital technology has brought significant benefits to the lives of many older people.  However, there are significant barriers to technology adoption for many of the remaining people. The aim of this workshop is to consider how to facilitate safe and enjoyable adoption for those who want to or could benefit.


The inherent difficulty of learning new skills later in life is part of the problem.  This is typically compounded by multiple progressive impairments that can make the use of technology less efficient and less comfortable.  A further cited problem is the lack of facilitating conditions, either access to the devices themselves or to effective learning environments.


Instrumental barriers to adoption are compounded by a number of psychological barriers and negative impressions of the digital world.  One is the belief that they exist outside digital culture and that digital concepts are unlearnable.  A further problem is that mass media sometimes presents a negative impression of the digital world (e.g. hacks, scamming) that serve to intimidate those contemplating adoption. A further problem is the perceived effort/reward ratio.  Older people are often reluctant to return to a ‘classroom’ setting, particularly if they have negative recollections of education from earlier in their lives.


Many strategies for improving digital adoption can be identified.  A number of community-based initiatives support digital skills training.  Both public and private sector initiatives support digital mentoring on a relatively informal basis.  Research into strategies for teaching digital concepts includes using games and informal social spaces to provide friendlier conditions for early learning and encouraging adoption.


This workshop invites papers related to:

  • Understanding the problems faced by older people with regard to digital adoption
  • Strategies for improving digital adoption for older people
  • Strategies for supporting older people who do not wish to be or cannot be digitally engaged
  • Case studies of digital/training/mentoring for older people


Dr Mark Springett (


For Submission Guidelines: See – 


Prof. Maurice Mulvenna

Making technology work for people is easier than making people work for technology, or is it?

The talk begins by reviewing  the evolution of the use of technology to support peoples’ health and wellbeing, from telecare and telehealth through to personalised healthcare, the growth of the idea of ‘quantified self’ and ultimately, self-managed care. The different techniques that help engagement and continued use of technology by older people are explored before some thoughts on the issues and opportunities are discussed.


Maurice Mulvenna is Professor of Computer Science at Ulster University. His research areas include artificial intelligence, digital interventions for health and wellbeing, and assistive technologies. He is currently involved in several international research projects, including H2020 MIDAS (Meaningful Integration of Data Analytics and Services), H2020 SenseCare (Sensor Enabled Affective Computing for Enhancing Medical Care, and UK HSC Facilitated reminiscence for people living with dementia. Arising from his research, he has published around 300 papers and served on many program committees. He is co-chair of the 32nd British Human-Computer Interaction conference in 2018, and the 31st European Cognitive Ergonomics conference in 2019. He served for three years on UK Ofcom’s Advisory Committee on Older and Disabled People and currently serves on the editorial boards for several academic journals including the Journal of Enabling Technologies and JMIR Rehabilitation and Assistive Technologies. In 2014, he was elected as a Board Member of the International Society for Gerontechnology (ISG). Maurice is also a past winner of the European €100K IST Grand Prize and has won with colleagues the Best Innovation in Practice Award at the Dementia Care Awards.