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Older Adults’ Collaborative Learning Dynamics When Exploring Feature-Rich Software

Feature-rich software applications provide many options through complex structures which can make their learning process difficult. While many studies have investigated software learning, they typically have not focused on older adult users. Given that older adults are increasingly using more complex software, we aimed to investigate how older adults learn feature-rich applications. We focus on a learning scenario where an older adult is learning collaboratively with a partner. In our observational study, sixteen older adults and six younger participants (5 same-age and 6 mixed-age dyads) worked together remotely to explore a new feature-rich application. We collected data via recording participants’ interactions with each other and the software, as well as through surveys and interviews. We applied quantitative and qualitative approaches to analyze the data, including open coding to investigate dyadic interactions and thematic analysis for the interviews. Our results show that effective communication and the ability to navigate the software independently enabled a successful collaboration dynamic that empowered learners. Based on our findings, we discuss design implications for technologies that aim to improve older adults’ experience of learning feature-rich software both individually and collaboratively.


Afsane Baghestani. Older Adults’ Collaborative Learning Dynamics When Exploring Feature-Rich Software. 2023. MSc Thesis. University of Manitoba, Canada.