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Not only is it nice to contribute to the community, but service-learning provides a more memorable and valuable learning experience with real life examples!

- Student (State University of New York)

For decades, psychologists’ research has shown that ageism undermines older adults’ mental and physical health by implying they are less capable and more burdensome. The pandemic has exacerbated the portrayal of older people as vulnerable and weak. However, a German survey conducted with 5000 peopled aged between 46-90 years, revealed only 10% of respondents felt threatened by the pandemic. Similarly, intergenerational tension is also felt among the younger population, as social distancing and other public health measures were primarily aimed to benefit older people, yet the economic and social costs of these measures have been imposed overwhelmingly on young people. At the same time, failure of younger people to live up to these moral expectations is denounced as selfish and students are stereotyped as reckless. Therein, generational solidarity is at an all-time low.

Moreover, at a time where unity has been the overriding message, there is concern over the lack of involvement of communities used within COVID-19 responses thus far. Measures to contain the virus limit the scope for action of civil society organisations, thus the pandemic has resulted in “dwindling commitment” and a worsening shortage of financial resources in relation to community engagement. IDOL offers a solution to combat this and rejuvenate the civic service mission of HEIs through digital service learning.

As such, HEI institutes are uniquely placed to reach both cohorts: adult learners enrolled in continuing education units and younger students enrolled in undergraduate programmes. However, until now these educational units largely operate as completely separate silos. JGU are frontrunners of an innovative interdisciplinary teaching method called “tandem teaching”. This co-teaching mode of collaboration facilitates intergenerational learning, but the approach is NOT widely known about or adopted by the HEI sector. Therefore IDOL will develop 3 main results to bring intergenerational digital service learning to life within HEIs.

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