Our research projects

In a world of increasing longevity and digitalization, “learning” in old age is an important pillar of healthy longevity. However, digital learning tools (e.g., e-learning) mostly target young generations and rarely address the needs of generation 60+. This is due to the speed of technological change, digital inequality between generations, and policies failing to match the learning competences and needs in late life. E-learning can be very effective in addressing the diverse characteristics of 60+, a group with widely varying cognitive, motivational and physical states. We revolutionize “education 60+” by developing a new e-learning concept and platform for 60+ that supports lifelong learning. Our innovative platform brings together an ecosystem of various education stakeholders and offers novel senior-oriented (a) course content and formats, (b) user experience, and (c) data analytics for individualized learning profiles.

DIZH – Digitalization Initiative of the Zurich Higher Education

The goal of the Digitalization Initiative of the Zurich Higher Education Institutions (DIZH) is to encourage collaboration on digitalization-related issues among Zurich’s Higher Education Institutions, enhancing the region’s status as a center for research and business. Dr. Burcu Demiray has submitted an innovation project on WiseLearn to DIZH with her research partners at ZHAW School of Management and Law (Dr. Zeynep Erden and Prof. Fredrik Hacklin) and practice partner SparkAdemy. The project is supported by the City of Zurich and Seniors University of Luzern. The team is developing new course content and online curricula (on contemporary topics such as digitalization) specifically tailored to the needs and interests of citizens aged 60+.

(Total budget = 598’338 CHF for 18 months)

For more information: https://dizh.ch/en/2023/02/06/revolutionizing-education60-digital-lifelong-learning/


Erasmus+60 is an innovative project that focuses on European citizens aged 60+ who have not been adequately considered in the creation of higher education institution activities, such as Erasmus+. With life expectancy rising and one in every three citizens predicted to be over 65 by 2060, the need for lifelong learning and training opportunities increases. Erasmus+60 is a three-year project involving the European University Foundation (EUF) and 7 partner universities:

  • University of Porto
  • University of Versailles Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines
  • University of Split
  • University of Latvia
  • University of Eötvös Loránd (ELTE)
  • Mendel University in Brno
  • University of Zurich

The team at the University of Zurich led by Dr. Burcu Demiray is responsible for the area of digitization of education for seniors. The team is consulting all partner universities on e-learning course development and leading the course production efforts. The long-term goal is to unite all partners on one platform for their senior learners.

(Total budget = 274’934 EUR)

For more information: https://www.erasmusplus60.uvsq.fr

Projects in Dr. Demiray’s research group

Evaluation of an e-learning video on artificial intelligence (60+)
(Lea Sabrina Riniker)

Artificial intelligence technologies, which have the potential to change teaching and learning, are increasingly being used in education and society. However, the impact of these technologies on learning is still unclear and therefore the subject of current debate. As the target group of people aged 60 and over has hardly been researched in this context to date, this study aims to contribute to closing this research gap. The aim of the study is to evaluate an e-learning video on artificial intelligence in an online survey and to record personal preferences regarding different elements of artificial intelligence. We are therefore looking for study participants over the age of 60 for this study.

If you have any questions, please contact: leasabrina.riniker@uzh.ch

Does the sense of social presence influence the learning performance of senior university students in an e-learning environment?
(Fabienne Joos)

In studies on learning motivation, it has been shown that older people more often report being motivated to learn by the motive of belonging. Furthermore, research is emerging that social elements can improve learning performance. These findings are both applied and examined in this study. It will test the extent to which social elements integrated into an e-learning course increase social presence and influence learning performance. For this study we are still looking for study participants who are older than 60 years.

If you have any questions, please contact: fabienne.joos@uzh.ch

Learning together online – How to get started with e-learning?
(Aline Dietsche)

As we age, e-learning opens up a world of possibilities: Flexibility Convenience and cost-effectiveness are just a few advantages. Yet older adults have inhibitions using e-learning programs. Our goal is to work with members of the Senior:innenuniversität in a co-development process to create a four-part module on how to get started with e-learning. Social interaction, technical support and motivational processes are the focus. We don’t just want to provide knowledge, but to create a fulfilling and stimulating learning experience!

If you have any questions, please contact: aline.dietsche@uzh.ch

Does e-learning tailored to the age of learners lead to a greater learning success?
(Julia Sulzmann)

In this Master’s thesis, the first step is to adapt a module of the e-learning course “Studium Digitale” to the needs of people over 60. Subsequently, it is tested whether the adaptation for seniors leads to better learning performance than the original learning module. In terms of content, participants can deepen their knowledge of how to use the Internet and online media. Finally, we ask whether the adaptation of the module contributes to a higher satisfaction of the participants.