Situated learning and identity development in a Korean older adults' computer classroom
Kim, Young Sek
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The purpose of this study was to understand how Korean older adults’ computer learning in a face-to-face classroom is situated in a social context and how this learning influences older adults’ identities. This study was a qualitative case study which examined a purposefully selected advanced Internet course for older adults in a senior center in South Korea. I observed eleven sessions and conducted semi-structured interviews with ten students in the course. Two research questions guided this study: (1) How is computer learning of older adults embedded in the learning context in terms of social interactions, learning tools, physical environment, and Korean culture? (2) How do computer learning experiences influence older adults’ identities? Data analysis guided by the constant comparative method revealed the following findings: Social interactions were embedded in students’ processes of receiving information. Learning tools such as computers and lesson notes were rooted in the participants’ learning processes. Where students sat determined the participants’ interactions with the teacher, volunteer teachers, and peers. Korean culture such as age-hierarchy, saving face, and teachers as authority figures was also embedded in the ways the participants interacted with peers and teachers. The participants’ computer learning and uses increased self-efficacy related to using computers, raised self-esteem in relation to their mental abilities, and made them feel less marginalized from modern society and family. Three conclusions were drawn related to older adults’ computer learning in a classroom: (1) older adults’ computer learning in a classroom is a situated activity, (2) older adults’ computer learning occurs in overlapping communities of practice, and (3) older adults’ computer learning in a classroom influences learners’ identities. Practical implications and suggestions for future research are provided.