online social interactions

Workshop - Online photo-sharing by people aged over 60 years

About the project

The Open University, in collaboration with Age UK Milton Keynes, is involved in a Sir Halley Stewart Trust-funded research project ( which is addressing the interlinked issues of ageing, wellbeing, loneliness and social isolation, and taking photographs and sharing photos via email and social media.

Your valuable insights/contributions to this research will help inform the ongoing discussion on loneliness amongst older people and their health and wellbeing.

23rd March 2018, workshop at The Open University's campus in Milton Keynes

If you share your photos online such as by email or on social media (e.g. Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram), please consider participating in this workshop on 23rd March 2018 to share your experiences. If you are involved in digital photography but don’t post/share photos online, then also please come to this workshop to share your experiences/concerns.

Timings: This workshop will run from 10 am to 12:30 at Open University’s campus in Milton Keynes MK7 6AA: registration, coffee/tea and pastries at 9:30 am; workshop start at 10 am; a tea break at 11:15; and a buffet lunch at 12:45. 


Alongside the workshops that we are running on this project, we have a survey through which we are collecting experiences of people aged 60+ living in the UK and who share photos online. The link to survey is: or (short link)

The survey will take 8-10 minutes to complete. The research design of this survey and the project has been approved by The Open University's Human Research Ethics Committee (HREC/2017/2498/Minocha). 

Contact details

Please contact Professor Shailey Minocha by email to confirm your participation in the workshop, or if you have any queries about the workshop or project; or if you are able to contribute to the research project via a conversation over phone/Skype, face-to-face meeting, etc.

Symposium - Role of activity monitors in adopting an active and healthy lifestyle

Symposium at UK's Open University's campus in Milton Keynes 

Over the last two years, a team of researchers at The Open University (OU) has been investigating the role of activity monitors in socialisation and in improving the wellbeing of people aged over 55 years, of carers, and of people being cared for. Activity monitoring technologies such as those from Fitbit, Garmin and Samsung help to track activity, exercise, food, weight and sleep.  

In the digital health wearables event on 16 January 2018, we will showcase the results of this two-year research programme funded by Sir Halley Stewart Trust and the ESRC Impact Acceleration Award. In addition, speakers from public health and industry, and users of these technologies will discuss their views and future directions these technologies and similar digital health wearables will take in supporting active and healthy ageing, in caring, and in self-monitoring of health.  

Research programme website: 

Agenda of the Symposium

Opening keynote by Rohit Ail, Samsung UK - Health Innovation and European Union's ActiveAge Project

Presentations by the OU team, users/participants of our research programme (Bob Strudwick and Phil Warburton of Age UK Milton Keynes) and Trudy Hosker, Public Health Practitioner, Public Health, People Directorate, Milton Keynes Council

Closing keynote by Tina Hurst, Active Insights

Project team

Academics: Dr. Duncan Banks (OU), Dr. Kate Hamblin (Oxford University) Dr. Caroline Holland (OU), Dr. George Leeson (Oxford University) Ms. Catherine McNulty (OU), Professor Shailey Minocha (OU) and Dr. Ana-Despina Tudor (OU)

Collaborators: Age UK MK (Jane Palmer, Bob Strudwick and Phil Warburton), Carers MK (Sue Bowering and Robert Benn) and Samsung UK and the ActivAge project (Rohit Ail, Ahmad Bangesh and Qian Shen)

Research Managers: Louise Thomas (OU) and Katia Padvalkava (Oxford University)

Further Information

If you would like to know more about the symposium or receive a summary of the symposium's proceedings, please contact us via the comments on this blog-post


Virtual worlds for real experiences

Picture:  Educators' meeting of the Virtual Worlds Educators Roundtable (VWER) in Second Life

Picture: Educators' meeting of the Virtual Worlds Educators Roundtable (VWER) in Second Life

My inaugural lecture Virtual Worlds for Real Experiences will be held on Tuesday, 20 June 2017 at The Open University's campus in Milton Keynes, UK. I will discuss how online technologies such as social software, activity trackers, virtual reality and 3D virtual worlds bridge time and places, interleaving the virtual with the real – allowing people to communicate and collaborate with those whom they may have never met, experience places they may never be able to visit, shop, learn, and do research.

I will focus on three domains that we have conducted research on over the last few years:

  • social software;
  • digital health wearables or activity trackers; and
  • virtual reality and 3D virtual worlds. 
Picture:  Designing virtual worlds for real experiences

Picture: Designing virtual worlds for real experiences

The underlying themes of these three domains that I will discuss in the Lecture are:

  • how online technologies can empower people - to become more socially connected;
  • how being online can alleviate social isolation and loneliness;
  • how online technologies can provide real experiences - where people get value from their online interactions and, through that broaden their horizons; and
  • how online technologies can support individual and collective learning, skills development and knowledge construction.

In these initiatives, the design of the online technology is paramount for providing real experiences to the users. The dimensions of the design that I will elaborate in the Lecture are:

  • design of online spaces;
  • design of activities;
  • setting expectations of the users; and
  • scaffolding social norms, rules, roles and etiquette for interactions. 

The live-stream on the day and the video recording after the Lecture will be at this link.

The hashtags for this event are: #OpenMinds #OUTalks


A daily photo journal that helps to address social isolation

Rebecca Jones of The Open University along with some of the other attendees at the event

Rebecca Jones of The Open University along with some of the other attendees at the event

As a part of the Centre for Policy on Ageing (CPA) and Centre for Ageing and Biographical Studies (CABS) seminar series, The Representation of Older People in Ageing Research, a seminar 'Social Media and Research in Ageing' took place on 30th October 2015 at The Open University's London office (1-11 Hawley Crescent, Camden, London, NW1 8NP).

Taking the example of an online photo journal called blipfoto which encourages users to document their life with just one photo each day, Shailey discussed how online social interactions influence the lives of people aged over 65 years, the challenges that they face, and the concerns that they have about being online.

The presentation is available here in Open University's Research Repository. The live blogging of the talk is available in Rebecca Jones' blog.