Storytelling has been our primary form of communication throughout human evolution. From stone art to audiobooks, humans have relied on this transmission of information to preserve our cultures and knowledge.
With technology increasingly pervading all generations, one entrepreneur has combined storytelling and tech to improve the ICT skills of seniors.
“I wanted to create a product that enabled anyone who was not technical, a non-writer, to easily collate stories, or knowledge, or information from their perspective with their family and friends,” said Furze.
The project began as a service where seniors would use Bookform’s online templates to create digital copies of story books, however Furze said this approach failed to pick up.
“Tech is fantastic tool, but it alone isn’t motivation enough.
“We’ve still got to keep humans involved in the communication cycle.
“That’s where children come in,” said Furze.
Furze said she ran workshops and programs in libraries to get the product some traction, however it only became successful when children became involved.
The project has been reaching out to schools to get children engaged in developing story books in collaboration with seniors.
“Teachers and schools are very proactive about trying to come up with skills and lessons for students to learn digital skills and knowledge for future jobs that haven’t been created.
"They’re trying to teach skills of communication, critical thinking and collaboration, which this book does,” she said.
According to 2016 research by the Australian Seniors Research Agency (ASIA), one in two seniors is active on social media.
However, despite this, Furze said older people may still feel intimidated by evolving tech and she hopes her product will allow them to develop their ICT skills.
“When I encourage kids to go in and collaborate with seniors, that’s when the seniors have been engaging with tech.
“It’s a soft introduction to ICT that’s less intimidating than other situations because these seniors are being introduced to it by a grandchild or a young person,” she said.
The product will now provide template questions for school children to interview seniors, which will be automatically converted to text as they speak into their book.
Furze also hopes this product will allow Indigenous elders to be able to share their stories and knowledge with younger generations.
“[The product] is not about reading or writing – it’s about having a motivational trigger for people to become interested in literacy,” she said.
The product will be re-launched on 23 November.