ICT4 Elderly/Communication

Contents of the module

Teddy Bears in Pairs is a communication project to learn in pairs, where elderly persons and young people learn together

Digital tools that enable email correspondence, text and voice communication: Google account and Gmail

Learning objectives

  • how to communicate with friends and relatives both through text and voice messages;
  • how to create a mail account;
  • what are the best practices when communicating and choosing a password;
  • how to use mail address to send and receive emails;
  • how to apply basic text formatting;
  • about spam and phishing and what to do to avoid them.

Learning outcomes

  • Participant is introduced to communication channels;
  • Participant is able to communicate with friends and relatives both through text and voice messages;
  • Participant gains a basic understanding about what is meant by emails and chatting;
  • Participant is able to create a mail account; knows the best practices when choosing a password; is able to use email account to send and receive emails; is familiar with basic text formatting; understands what is meant by spam and phishing and what to do to avoid them;
  • Participant is motivated to discover new way of communicating online and is motivated to use online tools as a way of communicating.

Learning scenario

  • Introduction of evolution of communication through online video;
  • Presentation of advantages and usage of email account;
  • Discussion to address email account/mailbox/email address usage, benefits and advantages, as well as accessing them

discussion to address correct and appropriate text formatting;

  • A presentation of bad externalities of mail (spam/phishing).


  • Discussion through provided questions;
  • Quiz exercise;
  • Assessment tasks.

Following this module learners will:

  • Know how to communicate with friends and relatives both through text and voice messages;
  • Gain a basic understanding about what is meant by emails and chatting;
  • Be able to create a Google account;
  • Know the best practices when choosing a password;
  • Be able to use Gmail to send and receive emails;
  • Be familiar with basic text formatting;
  • Understand what is meant by spam and phishing and what to do to avoid them.

Introduction of the training edit

The internet is fundamentally a communications tool, and since its creation decades ago, people have been using it to communicate with one another. Early ways to communicate online on the internet that still exist include email, newsgroups and other chatroom services. More recently, the internet has developed the web, social networking tools, instant messaging programs, videoconferencing tools and newer chat programs and internet phone calling.


Communication, E-mail, Gmail, Connected.

Learning subject/ field

Narrative/sequential description of the learning activities

Introduce the class by watching video available at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UJjvsGBjy2U; and discuss in class the video and the evolution of technology over time.

Encourage participants to relate personal experience and consider especially the changes in communications media which have come about within the last couple of decades.

Explain in general what emails are and elaborate on the advantages of using email these days.

Continue the discussion by explaining what an email account is, a mailbox and an email address. Explain the use of free email providers such as Gmail and Yahoo, and how to access the mailbox through a browser.

Show the students how a google account is created and set up one for each unless they already have one.

Now that all students have a functional google account, show them how to:

  • Send an email
  • Format text in an email
  • What an attachment is and how to include this in an email
  • Email forwarding
  • The difference between CC and BCC

Once the students had grasped the concepts, allow them to practice what they have learnt by sending an email to the trainer with the above criteria.

Explain what spam and phishing are and draw students attention on how computer viruses can also be spread through emails.

First Session structure edit

The purpose of the session will be:

  • to provide an introduction to communication channels;
  • to facilitate communication via email between participants;
  • to discover new ways of communicating online;
  • to motivate participants to use the Internet as a way of communicating.

Communicate: step 1 edit

Over the years, the way people communicate has changed a lot as new technologies were developed. With digital technology, and especially with the advent of the Internet, we are connected to each other more than ever before.  Thanks to the Internet, people in different countries can not only speak to each other in real-time, but also see each other as if they were in the same room.  During this lesson you will learn how to use the Internet for communication using email as well as real-time voice and video telephony.

Watch video Evolution of Communication.

Emails: step 2 edit

The term email is short for electronic mail.  It is a way of sending mail over the Internet from one digital device to another. Such devices may include smartphones, tablets, laptops and desktop computers. Sending emails has many advantages when compared to traditional mail (nowadays called snail mail).  Let’s take a look at some of these benefits.

Advantages of email edit

  • Environmental friendly: since all correspondence is done electronically, no paper is required.
  • Fast delivery: traditional post used to take days to reach the recipient, and even longer if the letter was being sent abroad.  Nowadays, the recipient will receive the email just a few seconds after you hit the send button, almost anywhere in the world. If the recipient happens to be online, you will get your reply a couple of minutes later.
  • Cheap: once you have an Internet subscription, sending and receiving an email incurs no additional costs.
  • Better organised: when you send an email, a copy is stored in your mailbox so you always have a record of your message. When the recipient replies, the response contains a copy of the original email so it is always clear what they are replying to. You can organise emails into folders, just like files.
  • More accessibility: unlike written letters, you can check your emails from anywhere around the world where there is an Internet connection.

Case study edit

Paul often works late and has little time for grocery shopping. During his lunch break at work, he sometimes draws up a  shopping  list and emails it to Anna who usually does her shopping in the afternoon. Anna used  to print out Paul's email to take with her to the supermarket, but nowadays she can read email on her Smartphone. After work Paul collects his shopping when he calls for his children.

Create an email account: step 3 edit

To send and receive emails you need to have an email account with an email provider. An email account gives you two things:

  • A mailbox. A mailbox is a storage space on your email provider's server where emails you receive are stored waiting for you to read them at your convenience.
  • An email address. This is the address people who wish to send you emails must use so that the email gets delivered to your mailbox. Similarly, you must know the email address of anyone you wish to send an email to. Email addresses look like this: paul.borg@gmail.com, info@skylark.edu or customercare@modernhome.com.mt

Creating your account edit

In this course, we will be using the services of one of the many free email providers on the Internet. Google, Yahoo and Microsoft all offer free email which you can access using your web browser. Since all your email remains in your mailbox on the provider's server, you can access all your emails from anywhere you have an Internet connection and a browser.

For the purpose of this course we are going to create a Google account so that we can start sending and receiving emails on Gmail.

  • To create a Google account, type the following URL in the address bar to load the Google home page.
  • Click on the Sign in button in the top right corner.
  • Since we don't yet have a Google account, click on the option Create an account found at the bottom of the page.
  • A page will load where you need to fill in your personal details.  At the top you need to write your name and surname.
  • In the box Choose your username, you have to decide what email address you would like to use.  Whatever username you choose will become your email address. Since many people have an email account, it can easily happen that there’s somebody else with the email address you would like to use.  If this is the case, try adding a number to the username you chose.
  • In the next box you will be asked to choose a password.  You will need to be able to remember your password, but try to find one which others will not be able to guess easily. Don't forget, anyone who knows your password will be able to access your email!

Below are some tips for choosing a secure password:

  • Don’t choose passwords which are dictionary words;
  • Don’t use something personal, such as your telephone number or your pet’s name, as your password;
  • Use a mixture of letters, numbers and symbols, but don’t complicate it too much, otherwise you won’t be able to remember it yourself;
  • Do not write your password anywhere - it might get stolen or you might lose it;
  • The password should at least be 8 characters long. In fact, Google won’t let you continue until you choose a password which is long enough.  At the side of the password field you will get a message to indicate how good your password is.

You will be asked to enter the same password twice, to make sure that you actually wrote the correct password.

  • Continue filling the rest of your personal details.  You also need to input your mobile number on which you will later on receive a verification number which will allow you to activate your account.
  • You will then have to type in the number you see - this is called a CAPTCHA, and is just a security check you will encounter on other websites too.
  • Lastly, make sure that your Location is set to Malta and tick the checkbox to indicate that you agree with the Google terms of Service and Privacy Policy.
  • Click on Next step.
  • A welcome screen will appear. Click on Get Started and you will be directed to the Google home page.

You will need to carry out the above steps only once.  The next section will explain in more detail the steps you would need to follow each time you would need to send or receive emails.

Logging into Gmail edit

Now that you have your own Google account you can start sending and receiving emails through Gmail.  To log on to Gmail:

  • Type the URL http://gmail.com into the address bar (you may wish to create a bookmark on the Favourites bar).
  • If you are already logged into Google, your emails will be automatically displayed.  If not, the log-in screen below will appear. The browser will most probably remember your email address, so you would just need to type in your password.  If you try to log on to Gmail from a computer you haven’t used before, you will be asked to type both your email and your password, so make sure that you remember both.

Tip edit

When signing into an account such as Gmail, your browser will offer to remember your user name and password so you won't have to type them in every time. Although this is a very convenient feature, make sure that you do not use it on a public computer such as in a school, the local council or an Internet Cafe.

Try this edit

Create your own Google account so that later on during the lesson you can start sending and receiving emails. Share your new email address              with your friends so you can send emails to each other.

Sending and receiving emails: step 4 edit

Once you log into Gmail, you will be automatically directed to your Inbox mail folder, where you will see a list of emails you have received.  Unread emails are displayed in bold.  The number of unread emails in a folder is indicated next to the folder name.

Sending an email edit

  • Click on Compose.
  • A window will open on the right hand side, where you can type in your message.
  • In the To field, type in the email address of the person to whom you want to send the email.
  • In the Subject field, type a title which best describes what the email will be about.  This helps the person receiving the email to know beforehand what to expect in the email.
  • Type in the content of the message.
  • Once you have finished typing your message click the Send button.

Tip edit

You can send an email to many recipients at once - write all their email addresses in the TO box, separated with a comma.

Formatting emails edit

Gmail also allows you to change the font type, colour, and other formatting properties of the text you type in your email.  To open the formatting toolbar:

  • Click once on the Formatting options button.
  • The toolbar below will appear.
  • To change the Font Type click on Sans Serif and choose a font which you like from the list.
  • To change the Font Size click once on the Size button and choose the size which you would like to type in.
  • Click on the Bold, Italic or Underline buttons to apply the effects shown on each word.                                                                                          
  • To choose a different font colour click once on the Text Color button.  This option also allows you to choose a different font background for your text.
  • Click once on the Align button to align your text to the left, to the centre or to the right, respectively.
  • To insert a numbered list into your message click on the Numbered List button.
  • To insert a bulleted list into your message click on the Bulleted List button.

Attaching a file to an email edit

Sometimes you may wish to send some photos or other files with your email.  These are called attachments. To include an attachment with your email:

  • Click on the Attach files button.
  • The Choose File to Upload dialog box will appear.
  • Choose the file or picture which you want to attach to your email and click on Open.
  • The file attachment will appear as follows at the bottom of the window.

Replying to an email edit

To open an email you have received, simply click once on the email displayed in the Inbox folder. This opens the email for you to read and, if you wish, reply to.

There are two ways how you can reply to the email:

  • Scroll to the bottom of the email and click on the Reply link.
  • Click on the Reply button at the top of the email.

Since you would be replying to an email, the email address of the recipient will be automatically filled in for you.  All you only need to do is type in the email and click on the Send button.

Forwarding an email edit

Sometimes you may wish to pass on an email you have received to a friend or relative.  There are two ways in which you can forward an email:

  • Scroll to the bottom of the email and click on the Forward link.
  • Click on the arrow next to the Reply button and choose Forward.

Try this edit

You are going to send an email to one of your classmates following this course with any picture found on your computer as an attachment. Your tutor will tell you which friend to email.  It’s important that you fill in the subject and body as follows:

  • Subject – Email attachment.
  • Body text – Dear friend, attached please find my favourite picture.

You should receive an email back from one of your classmates.

  • Reply to this email to thank your friend for sending you the picture.
  • Forward this email to another classmate in your class.

Considerations when opening Emails: step 5 edit

Spam edit

Spam is unsolicited promotional mail companies send to advertise their products and services. It is the electronic equivalent of junk mail. This bombardment of unsolicited mail is annoying to most email users and wastes resources. Some countries have actually made spamming illegal.

To avoid spam mail, only give your email address to people and sites you trust. Some websites may request your email address before you are allowed to browse the site - be warned that companies may collect email addresses in this way so they can distribute promotional material.

Gmail tries to automatically detect spam mail, which it removes from your inbox and stores in a special Spam folder.  Messages which remain in the Spam folder longer than 30 days are automatically deleted.

Spam detection is not perfect, so DO check your spam folder from time to time in case a genuine email was mistaken for spam. If wish to rescue an email from the Spam folder:

  • Click on the checkbox next to the email.
  • Click on the Not spam button.

The email will now be moved to your Inbox folder.

If on the other hand, you receive unsolicited mail in your Inbox, you can send it to the spam folder by clicking on the Report spam button.

Email scams and phishing edit

Frequently you will receive unsolicited emails offering you millions, or claiming you have won a huge prize in a lottery you never even heard of, and asking you for your bank account details. Such emails are obviously fraudulent, and few people fall for them any more.

But sometimes you may receive an email which genuinely appears to be from your bank or another trusted institution asking you for confidential information such as your password or your credit card PIN number. Beware. Such emails are almost always fraudulent because trusted institutions will never conduct sensitive business over email. This practice of using fraudulent emails to obtain confidential information is called Phishing. Sometimes the email will contain a link to a site which looks exactly like your Internet Banking site - do not be taken in. Sometimes the email will threaten closure of your bank account or credit card if you don't follow the instructions in it - ignore it.

In order to avoid such scams, never take emails which appear to be asking for confidential information seriously - do not click on any hyperlinks in them, do not reply to them, do not do what they say. Just delete them.

Case Study edit

Paul takes care to keep his anti-virus software up to date, has enabled the firewall on his router, and makes sure never to click on email attachments he is not expecting. But recently he almost fell victim to a new kind of Internet scam. He received an email that appeared to come from his bank asking him to log into his online banking account and update his personal information. He clicked on the URL in the email  and went straight to his bank's website - or so it seemed. In reality, the URL in the email took Paul to a look-alike website. The copycat site was so exactly identical to the website Paul uses for his internet banking that without thinking he entered his username and password. But before clicking LOG IN he remembered reading about something called phishing and checked the URL in the address bar carefully. It's a good thing he did - the URL was ALMOST exactly like his bank's except for one letter!

Homework edit

Debriefing edit

Evaluation edit

Overall duration of the session edit

2 hours and 10 min

References edit