Designing an Intergenerational Third-Space to Develop Critical-Digital-Literacy

  • Dulce Rodriguez

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy (PhD)


A qualitative research was conducted to develop an intergenerational third-space (I-3S) where seniors (65+ years-old) who live in the USA, and children (10-13 years-old) from economically-challenged areas in Mexico, worked together through videoconference systems. Their collaboration aim was to develop critical-digital-literacy. Thus, the emphasis was not on acquiring technical skills, but reflecting on the cultural, political, and economic links of digital media in the world. Moreover, that seniors and children experience technology as something they can use and produce to impact society. Regardless of their age or socio-cultural context. During the intervention, learners developed critical-digital-literacy through the production of digital texts: animated film (cycle 1), podcast (cycle 2) and a coding-based technological prototype (cycle 3); as the research was conducted in three cycles of design-based research methodology.

The theoretical framework to design, implement and understand the construction of the I-3S, was based on three key theories: critical-digital-literacy, third-space, and intergenerational practices. Results showed that I-3S is a fruitful environment for seniors and children to develop critical-digital-literacy. Seniors overcame their anxiety of using digital technology, in part, because being in contact with the children becomes meaningful, and each participant developed diverse elements of digital literacy, depending on their personal socio-cultural contexts and needs. Participants claimed having had a positive experience, feeling benefited from creating digital products that improved their own communities. Learners also broke pre-established stereotypes of the other generation, created a sense of community, and forged new friendships across generational and international boundaries.
Date of Award24 Jun 2021
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Bristol
SupervisorHelen Manchester (Supervisor) & Frances Giampapa (Supervisor)


  • critical digital literacy
  • digital literacy
  • third space
  • Intergenerational relationships

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