SiDE User Group to be celebrated at event to mark culmination of project

Computing researchers from the University of Dundee will next week bring together hundreds of older people from Tayside and Fife to thank them for their taking part in research studies directed at the development of inclusive technologies.

Members of the Social Inclusion through the Digital Economy (SiDE) User Pool will gather at the University’s School of Computing on Saturday, 7th February for a special Dissemination and Celebration event and to hear about the innovative research projects they have helped with over the past 5 years.

SiDE is an interdisciplinary research collaboration between the Universities of Dundee and Newcastle. The User Pool was comprised of individuals who volunteered to help research into the digital exclusion of older adults and people with disabilities. Events in both cities are marking the culmination of the £12million, five-year investment by the UK Research Council and celebrating the 2000-plus participants that helped make SiDE an award-winning success story.

The User Pool features older people with differing opinions of technology, from those who actively enjoy it to those who are not engaged with it at all. Their insights give researchers the opportunity to complete work on a number of areas and have helped inform more than 200 quality academic publications, many prestigious international keynote speeches and several PhD theses. 

Marianne Dee, SiDE User Pool Manager, at the School of Computing, said, “In Dundee, SiDE researchers have benefited from the wealth of knowledge, experience and intelligence of our older generations. Nearly 700 individuals took part in one or more activities, giving our findings validity, making them richer and quite unique as a consequence.

“This is impressive since we discovered how busy they are with volunteering, caring for family and friends as well as personal hobbies. We would also like to thank the many organisations who acted as a bridge to such a wide range of people, not least Dundee Local Authority and the Celebrate Age Network. Social Inclusion studies will continue, and anyone who wishes to remain in a smaller user pool is encouraged to do so.”

Research that User Pool members have assisted with include:

•             A study capturing touch screen mobile interactions by people with visual or motor impairments to help improve and tailor mobile devices for individual needs in the future.

•             Research with the BBC into encouraging greater numbers of older listeners to take part in and contribute to radio and TV debates, and how technology may enable this inclusion.

•             A study of how older users interact with social networking sites such as Facebook leading to recommendations on how developers can create more user-friendly interfaces.

In a message to User Pool members, Dundee University Rector Brian Cox said, “Your input has contributed to the knowledge and integrity of the research but more importantly it has helped young researchers to understand how vital it is to work with the potential users of technology from the earliest idea and throughout the research, if the end product is going to be usable, useful and relevant.” 

For more information visit the SiDE website at  www.side-dundee.org.uk.  

 

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