The preliminary study was exploratory and non-experimental, aiming to validate data collection instruments and techniques. During the study, two pairs of participants, selected through criterion sampling procedures and by convenience, were interviewed and observed in JME sessions, in which they used a particular tablet App to develop a specific activity proposed by the researcher.
In this way, the session with parental related participants involved a 58 years old grandmother and her 5-year’s old granddaughter, building their family tree using the App Notes HD on an iPad Mini. The session with the non-parental participants involved a 65 years old lady and an 8-year-old boy, jointly drawing the older adult as a child and the child as an older adult, using the App NOTEPAD+ on an iPad Mini.
The proposed activities were thought to be potentially promoters of reciprocal learning and enjoyable by both (grand)children and grandparents/older adults.
A total of two interviews were performed to each element of the pairs, one before and the other after JME sessions, in order to collect data from participants, such as demographic data, level of digital literacy, quality of the intergenerational relationship and attitude towards each other. In the post-JME sessions’ interviews, questions were introduced to assess the perceived impact of JME sessions in the quality of the intergenerational relationship, on the attitude towards each other and on children and older adults’ digital literacy.
The areas of competence and levels of proficiency proposed by DIGCOMP project [15, 16] were used to assess digital literacy of the older participants, understood as the ability to mobilize knowledge, skills and attitudes to critically identify, access, manage, assess and integrate digital resources to build new knowledge and communicate with others, in an effective way and through different formats [15,16,17,18]. However, some indicators were added, in order to integrate important skills that were not originally foreseen (e.g., the use of instant messaging services), as well as to incorporate mobile-specific skills (e.g., search for and installing Apps or using geo-location services). In this way, digital literacy indicators were assessed from a set of questions that were gradually and contextually introduced during the pre-JME sessions’ interviews, after a brief conversation concerning access to tablets, smartphones and computers. As far as 5 to 10 years old children is concerned, no fully appropriate set of digital literacy’s indicators and scales have been found. Therefore, interviews were used to collect as many information as possible concerning what children are able and used to do with mobile devices and computers, considering the same 4 areas of competence used for older adults, and scales are to be deductively developed.
Concerning the quality of intergenerational relationship, indicators were developed based on what the literature suggests to be a well-succeeded relationship: people spend time together; communicate and engage in meaningful and enjoyable activities; participate in each other’s life; and, learn reciprocally [4, 5]. All these indicators were surveyed through a set of questions integrated into the pre-JME session’ interview script and the definitive scales for the quality of intergenerational relationship are to be deducted from results.
Most of the questions in both interviews’ scrips were initiation questions, designed to introduce the topics, trigger the very first ideas about them and that could be posed without any specific order, for example: “Did you enjoy the activity? Did you learn/teach anything? What do you think of grandparents and grandchildren using technology together?”. These questions were complemented with development and contextual ones, intended to expand or supplement the initially introduced ideas. Regarding the interviews’ scripts, the study aimed to verify the adequacy of initiation questions to trigger the collection of the needed data and the duration of the interviews.
The JME sessions took place in the living rooms of the older participants’ homes. Participants were seated in the couch and the researcher was seated near them. Sessions were recorded using a GoPro HERO4. Both sessions began with a description of the activities by the researcher and a brief introduction to the Apps and their main features. During each session, data collection was performed by direct and participant observation, and, whenever possible and/or desirable, participants were questioned in order to build a shared interpretation of the activities and processes taking place. In what concerns this JME sessions, the study aimed to obtain children and older adults’ feedback regarding the proposed activities, as well as the assessment of the adequacy of the selected Apps.