OldSchool: distance learning platform for senior citizens
From lockdown to action
It all started back in mid-March with the frustration of a gerontopsychologist who took the Covid-19 crisis pretty personally. Burcu, an aging researcher who focuses on the understanding and promotion of healthy aging, felt a strong sense of responsibility to support the major risk group (65+) and decided she had to do something against the crisis. That’s when she ran into the ad of the Versus Virus Hackathon. She had never participated in a hackathon before, and definitely not in an online one! However, when she suddenly came up with an innovative idea about 4 hours before the submission deadline, she knew she had to go for it. The idea was to develop a distance learning platform specifically tailored for 65+, who were forced to stay at home. Such a platform would not only be useful during a pandemic, but also in the aftermath of the crisis, in world that is rapidly aging and becoming more digital.
The start of "OldSchool" and goal
The Hackathon took place from April 3 to 5, when “OldSchool” was born with a brand new, dedicated team. OldSchool is distance learning platform aimed at all senior citizens, regardless of their digital skills. The platform will include academic courses, citizen science projects and hobby classes. With the help of an ambassador program, technically experienced seniors will support interested seniors with lower digital skills. The platform will integrate different learning styles. In addition to private customers, OldSchool wants to attract institutions, such as nursing homes, which could use the platform for their own clientele.
At the end of the Hackathon, the team was thrilled to learn that it was selected as one of the 42 “highlighted” projects out of a total of 263. The team received 1’000 CHF and an invitation to participate in an incubation program. The team also applied for and received seed funding from Versus Virus (12’000 CHF), as well as funding from the Seniors University (UZH3), OldSchool’s first official partner. Since the Hackathon, the team has participated in an EU-wide hackathon, Samsung’s Solve for Tomorrow Competition and the second Versus Virus Hackathon that took place prelast weekend. During this second hackathon, OldSchool was highlighted, again, by a different jury as an innovative and timely solution. OldSchool was also accepted into the coaching program of Samsung.
Now, when Burcu looks back at the past two months, she says “My life has become one long hackathon!”, as the OldSchool team has been so motivated to continuously push the project forward. It has been a stimulating, challenging and rewarding journey, which will soon lead to the first prototype of the platform that is created with senior users. Burcu thanks the amazing OldSchool team, Versus Virus organization and Impact Hub Zürich for making this initiative happen, and everyone who joins and supports the OldSchool community!
Dr. Burcu Demiray is a gerontopsychologist and a senior researcher at the Department of Psychology, University of Zurich. Since January 2020, she is a member of Impact Hub Zürich and a wannabe entrepreneur, passionate about positive aging and social impact.
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