Open Access Journal

ISSN: 2183-2439

Article | Open Access

Older Adults Learning Digital Skills Together: Peer Tutors’ Perspectives on Non-Formal Digital Support

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Abstract:  In later life, digital support is predominantly received outside of formal education from warm experts such as children, grandchildren, and friends. However, as not everyone can rely on this kind of informal help, many older adults are at risk of being unwillingly left without digital support and necessary digital skills. In this article, we examine non-formal digital support and peer tutoring as a way to promote digital and social inclusion through the acquisition of necessary digital skills. First, we ask: (a) What is peer tutoring, in the field of digital training, from the peer tutors’ point of view? Then, based on the first research question, we further ask (b) what are the key characteristics of peer tutoring in relation to other forms of digital support? Our thematic analysis is based on semi-structured interviews (n = 21) conducted in Central Finland in 2022 with peer tutors aged between 63 and 84. Peer tutors offered individual guidance by appointment and also supported their peers in group-based settings. Based on our study, we argue that from the peer tutors’ point of view, being a peer entails sharing an age group or a similar life situation and provides an opportunity for side-by-side learning. Although every encounter as a peer tutor is different and the spectrum of digital support is wide, these encounters share specific key characteristics, such as the experience of equality between the tutor and the tutee that distinguishes non-formal peer support from formal and informal learning.

Keywords:  digital inclusion; digital skills; informal learning; non-formal learning; older adults; peer support; peer tutor



© Viivi Korpela, Laura Pajula, Riitta Hänninen. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (, which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.