There is a critical need to take advantage of the efficiency offered by digital technologies and the vast technological knowledge base present in today’s youth. While in-home, personal assistance has its merit, virtual assistance through interactive remote desktop access is more spontaneous and accessible. The development of a mutual-assistance network allows this website to add a social aspect to the service, reinforce connections between peers, promote inter-generational relationships, while fostering a sense of worth among coaches.
Digital tele-information services for communication between individuals is a trend that can be adapted to suit the evolving needs and skill-levels of new internet users. This project is based on the integration of 4 key elements to the development of a successful virtual social-support service into a single platform. These elements are:
1. Those who possess the relevant skills must make their skill-offer obvious to those who need it. This is one of the big obstacles to attaining visibility amid the constant online chaos. A marketplace and multi-support or multi-channel widgets, both integratable with existing internet applications are necessary to address this problem. The development of these functions is necessary to offer the service to internet users.
2. The service cannot exist in the absence of trust between the service providers and users. This trust is built through local networks, social networks, circles of trust, and user recommendations. The foundation of trust, which facilitates the act of purchase, must be recreated online and resources must be organized.
3. Those who possess the relevant skills must be able to provide them by distance. The array of services offered including, chat, VoIP, file sharing, video, screen sharing, remote desktop sharing are vital to providing assistance that is personalized, immediate, short-term, and human. In short, these services create virtual home visits.
4. Payment for the services rendered must be secured. This is a key element to the development of a large-scale virtual service. Online micro-payment tools should be integrated in the service-delivery platform to ensure secure transactions.
We have integrated these 4 key elements into the SparkAngel social-service solution. We consider them to be the pillars to the establishment of “l’Accompagnement Numérique Durable,” sustainable virtual coaching.
The “virtualization” of in-home assistance services could at least partially replace real personal services to effectively solve the problem of the ever-widening digital divide between seniors and younger generations. It is essential that we build trust in technology among the aging population in order to win the battle against social exclusion. The launch of the SparkAngels “Internet télé-accompagné” (internet-based virtual coaching service) not only facilitates skill sharing, it also strengthens inter-generational ties, values knowledge and fosters integration into the workplace.
The service is not limited to digital learning; it can be extended to all screen-based activities to create virtual assistance for letter writing, tax filing, internet navigation, etc. It is assistance that is useful for more than just the demystification of digital technology.