https://gds.blog.gov.uk/2014/01/13/a-checklist-for-digital-inclusion-if-we-do-these-things-were-doing-digital-inclusion/

A checklist for digital inclusion – if we do these things, we’re doing digital inclusion

Government Digital Service - Digital Inclusion Checklist

As with most of our work at the Government Digital Service, we release things early for review and comment. The digital inclusion team, set up last year, would like to share and get your feedback on an alpha version of a checklist for digital inclusion.

We first mentioned a set of principles (we’re now calling it a checklist) when we published action 15 of the Government Digital Strategy. Over the last three months, this checklist has been developed in collaboration with partners from across government, private, voluntary and public sectors.

The intention is for the checklist to act as a guide for any organisation involved in helping people go online. In other words, if you do these things, you’re doing digital inclusion. Alongside each of the six checklist items, we have included an illustrative example of what works and a potential action that could be included in the upcoming digital inclusion strategy.

Checklist Overview

1.  Start with user needs – not our own
2.  Improve access – stop making things difficult
3.  Motivate people – find something they care about
4.  Keep it safe – build trust
5.  Work with others – don’t do it alone
6.  Focus on wider outcomes – measure performance

We want to hear from you

We are looking for feedback on the checklist from organisations and individuals who are involved in helping people, small businesses and small charities go online. We are keen to hear other examples from you  that illustrate great digital inclusion in action. We also want to know what actions we should be taking. Like those we have identified from the examples here, please let us know what you would do.

Your comments

Feedback is great and we want to hear everyone’s thoughts and advice as we develop the digital inclusion strategy. As well as the feedback we’ve asked you for on the checklist above, we have 4 other specific questions that we would really appreciate your help with:

1.  There a number of different roles that government could play. From your experience of digital exclusion, how should the government help tackle this issue?

2.  Getting funding to the those who can help people take the first steps to go online is really difficult and complex. How can we make it easier for support and funding to reach organisations who can offer the best support to people offline?

3.  We need new ways of inspiring and helping people go online – not just laptops and slideshows.

How can we foster and promote innovation within digital inclusion?

4.  Everyone we have spoken to says that we all need to work together better to tackle digital exclusion. What is stopping this? How to we support greater collaboration, partnerships and joint working?

We are really keen to hear any and all of your feedback via comments below or you can email them to the team at digital-inclusion@digital.cabinet-office.gov.uk. If we could ask for your comments, feedback and ideas by the end of January that would be great*.

Your feedback and advice will help to shape a digital inclusion strategy to be published in early Spring and set out how we can all collectively tackle digital exclusion.

We can’t wait to hear from you.

Join the conversation on Twitter: @GDSTeam

*Of course, if you want to get involved, work with us or simply pass on an idea we are always willing to talk. So get in touch!

Checklist

1.  Start with user needs – not our own

Tailor support around the unique barriers that stop people going online, and adapt to people’s needs which change over time

Throwing money at the problem and offering generic support does not help people go online for the long-term. People need tailored support to help them overcome their own particular barriers; whether that’s around access, cost, confidence or skills. Services need to be built for the user, not for government or business – putting their changing needs first.

Example of what works:

Lambeth Digital Buddies will support 50,000 Lambeth Council residents go online. Many residents are without access to the internet or lack the skills to confidently complete online transactions, and at the same time are heavily reliant on essential services that are migrating to online-only provision.

Digital Buddies are volunteers in the local community that will give their time to help people learn basic online skills, based around a mix of things that interest them, as well as using online government services. As many of those learning digital skills do not have regular access to the internet they can also receive text alerts advising them of important emails (for example from the Department for Work and Pensions) so they can log in knowing that there is something for them to attend to. The scheme also provides tangible benefits to buddies; for example, voluntary work experience helps improve job prospects by building experience and providing references for job applications.

Building on this example, a potential action could be to:

  • Empower local digital buddy networks within a national community of volunteers

2.  Improve access – stop making things difficult

Provide simple, low cost options for those who are socially and economically excluded to get online

Going online can be confusing, difficult and costly. It isn’t just about buying a laptop or smartphone; subscription fees, connection charges, setting up online accounts and installing firewalls can all make for a challenging experience.

Some people in the UK do not yet have access to broadband where they live even if they want to go online. The most digitally excluded are often the most socially and economically excluded, and could benefit the most from going online. Making the practical steps of going online easy and affordable makes a huge difference to people who are new to the internet.

Example of what works:

The Glasgow Housing Association (GHA), Scottish Government and BT have joined together to provide affordable broadband to a tower block in central Glasgow. With only 37% of those people living in social housing being online, support through housing providers is hugely important.

At £5 per month, not only does the service provide residents with simple and affordable connectivity and hardware, but the additional ongoing training and support they receive allows them to feel confident to use it.

By working together, all partners benefit from the scheme: reducing costs for GHA through online rent payments, fault reporting and communications with tenants; residents are now able to take advantage of the financial and social benefits that the internet can offer; for BT, increased market share and a new customer base; and, the scheme supports the government’s priorities by preparing for changes to universal credit.

Building on this example, potential actions could be to:

  • Establish a national model to provide housing association residents with connectivity, hardware and training
  • Define common standards across service providers, not just government, for basic online transactions e.g. paying rent online

3.  Motivate people – find something they care about

Bring digital into people’s lives in a way that benefits them; helping them do things they care about and can only do online

Pushing people to do something that doesn’t interest them doesn’t work. Let’s face it, doing government transactions online is not the most inspirational digital activity and is unlikely to be the motivator that gets someone to go online. In contrast, keeping in touch with your grandchildren who live abroad might be. Nobody wants to learn digital skills for the sake of it, and having an internet connection is useless unless you have a reason to want to use it.

Example of what works:

The E-mentoring initiative for the Rehabilitation of Prolific and Priority Offenders gives ex-offenders access to support, advice and guidance across a range of issues. When integrating back into society, priorities for ex-offenders include getting a job, finding secure accommodation and easily keeping in contact with their probation officers.

Through a ‘Virtual Home’, members can store vital personal information such as proof of ID, qualifications, CV and employment history which are not easy to maintain due to the transient and uncertain lifestyle that many are faced with.

By making ex-offenders’ lives better and focusing on the things that they care about, digital becomes part of their everyday lives. This innovative project was led in Leicestershire and Rutland with the support of the Brightside Trust.

Building on this example, a potential action could be to:

  • Make digital skills a central component of all rehabilitation

4.  Keep it safe – build trust

Make it easier to stay safe online by providing simple and straightforward advice and tools

Going online can be a daunting experience for many as they open themselves up to new risks. To keep people online in the long term it’s vital that they can rely on trusted sources to get the help, support and assurance they need to build their confidence in a digital world. The internet will never be 100% secure and staying safe online needs to be a basic digital literacy skill. Not enough people know how to look after themselves and others securely and not enough people trust the internet in the first place.

Example of what works:

Go ON UK  are developing a single place called digitalskills.com for those helping individuals, small businesses and small charities learn to be proficient, confident and safe online.

digitalskills.com is a repository of local resources and opportunities for accessing, learning and sharing digital skills. Still in its beta phase, the website has been created with a group of highly regarded and reputable national brands and will, over time, be developed to assure the quality of the resources and advice that is made available.

As well as links to useful information and services, there are maps to direct people to where local physical resources and advice are located. Go ON UK’s ambition and intent is to to create a single, trusted, and evolving source for online services that will help instill confidence and trust amongst new users and those supporting them.

Building on this example, a potential action could be to:

  • Build and promote digitalskills.com to be a UK wide trusted source of tools, advice and opportunities

5.  Work with others – don’t do it alone

Work together to maximise expertise, experience and resources to better meet user needs

Services to help people go online are not joined up enough. Efforts are duplicated across providers, funding is sporadic and does not always align with users’ needs. Better links and coordination are needed between the public, private and voluntary sector, so that their efforts add up to more than the sum of their parts.

Example of what works:

Liverpool’s Race Online 2012 (Go ON it’s Liverpool) brought together some 5,000 digital champions to help people go online by promoting a wide range of activities across the city – for example, encouraging people to ‘Give an hour’ to help those off-line to go online. This was a highly successful campaign brought about by a collaborative model involving everyone from; politicians, to community groups, the police, local businesses and volunteers to help the people of Liverpool go online.

This multi-faceted partnership and high profile initiative helped 104,000 people in Liverpool who had never been online (July 2011) and reduced those digitally excluded by 58,000 over the year. The success of the Liverpool Race has led to this model being replicated in the first of Go ON UK’s regional programmes in the North East.

Building on this example, a potential action could be to:

  • Partners in the public, private and voluntary sectors to work together to roll-out Go ON UK’s regional partnership programme nationally

6.  Focus on wider outcomes – measure performance

Identify wider outcomes that can be delivered by helping people become independently confident online and use data to understand what works

Reducing digital exclusion is not about the number of people who simply log-on once; how we measure digital inclusion needs to become far better. Equally, being able to go online is not an end in itself, but it does offer one way to help improve wider social and economic outcomes like improved health, employment or reduced re-offending and loneliness.

Identifying and prioritising against wider outcomes, agreeing common measures, evaluating and testing what works, as well as iterating and making things better, is critical to realising the benefits of going digital and achieving maximum impact for minimum resources.

Example of what works:

There are very few longitudinal surveys which track the long term efficacy of help and support provided to those digitally excluded; meaning that what works and what doesn’t is hard to understand.

Citizens Online and BT have been running a series of training sessions as part of their Get IT Together initiative. Learners receive 4 sessions of training and are then contacted after 3, 6, 12, and 24 months. Understanding ongoing user-confidence, types of devices owned and services being used, as well as the reasons for being online and offline allows Citizens Online and BT to iterate and make changes to their approaches when delivering training, support and developing new services.

Building on this example, a potential action could be to:

  • Establish a common measure of digital inclusion across national, local, public and private surveys

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You may also be interested in:

Introducing the new digital inclusion team

Digital inclusion for the homeless

Getting started on assisted digital

30 comments

  1. Daren Dazbert

    Would also suggest, ‘dont reinvent the wheel.’ With regards digital products there are many good practice examples out there that we can learn from and in some open source cases, use ourselves.

    A digital approach to most activities in Government isnt new, so if we share ideas and procedures we can produce class leading products accross government.

    Reply
    • Emily Oyama - Digital Inclusion Team

      Daren – Yes completely agree that we need to share best practice and we're currently looking into what role government could play in encouraging best practice across and around the country. We're looking at possibly using the Local Government Associations' 'knowledge hubs' to see if we can encourage more sharing of information.

      Reply
  2. William at Mydex

    You could usefully add something about personal control over personal data, which embraces ID assurance, My Gov Data and personalisation of digital services.

    eg “Personal control over personal data. Place the individual, and their personal data store, at the heart of the digital service architecture. Wherever possible give data back to the individual, use digital credentials held by the individual for service access and permissioned data direct from the individual for service personalisation, let the individual be the data controller, the curator of data about themselves and the point of integration for joined up services.”

    You could place it in one of the other sections above, but it might merit its own section.

    Why is this inclusive? It empowers people. It’s safer, more convenient and provides a richer, more flexible range of services faster, without the panopticon and data quality problems associated with centralised databases for everything.

    Reply
  3. Léonie Watson

    The checklist is high level, but the devil is in the details. Nowhere does the post mention people with disabilities, yet as a group that spans both older and socio-economically excluded people, they face even greater challenges.

    Reply
  4. simon fj

    Very nice Michael,

    Don’t know what anyone else was expecting but your checklist is identical to the one I made. (different words, same meaning). Only one I’d add is “provide users with the tools THEY want”. You’ve inferred it; just think we need to be specific (if this is a checklist and not a ‘principles’ list).

    And thank you for the examples for each. So very useful in illustrating the applications taken by departments with very different users. More please. Now I know all I have to do, to get what I want, is commit a (minor) criminal offense and in my rehabilitation will be given a ‘virtual home’ (which is something I’ve been asking for forever.) I take it I can use the same account to video conference with my parole officer. If I’d known that I would have started my application years ago:)

    But seriously (thinking from your perspective). If we will be working with others, we do need to consider where we put the open classroom, and work through which learning tools “the institutionalized” prefer to share. The digitalskills’ url is the one you’ve chosen. goodoh. Not sure how broadly you want to be inclusive. But if you want to include some of your peers from the EC (Connect team) you might consider digitalskills.eu. Language is one obstacle/opportunity we need to a address on day one (gotta include the foreign service)

    Tools? It seems wordpress is your teams’ blog of choice, so that’s one. We have six threads here (so far) which will need working through (separately), so I’d suggest something like this, as far as forums go. http://www.sitepoint.com/forums/

    It’s early days and I’m sure your team has got everything pretty much covered, except figuring out how to encourage an open culture. Who does? That’s a matter of keeping the discussions above the radar (so we can point at conversations rather than repeating them). So you might be interested in this one from one of my foreign correspondents. It’s not a promo for FB; more a focus on (inter-institutional) groups, and the cultural challenge we all have in opening things up, and including others. http://www.facultyfocus.com/articles/teaching-with-technology-articles/experimenting-with-facebook-in-the-college-classroom/

    I’ll bookmark this page as Day 1. All the best.

    Reply
    • Emily Oyama - Digital Inclusion Team

      Simon FJ – It's great that you've found the checklist similar to your thinking – we don't want to reinvent the wheel and it's key for us that we reflect what is already happening. On being inclusive and sharing the checklist with EC peers – this isn't something we've thought about but will consider how we could factor into our wider communications on the strategy. We're keen to explore how best to share thinking and some of the links you've sent will be interesting to take into account.

      Reply
  5. Agenci

    I would agree with William and include something around personal control over personal data. This could fall under build trust. There has to be personal inclusion whereby people have control what is known and held about them and that it is done so in accordance with regulation and the law.

    Reply
  6. simon fj

    So, with what Daren, Agenci and I were saying, the GDS teams will now have to decide whether the design principle is going to be user-centric or citizen-centric. (and that will lead into discussions about “federated services”. That’s No 7)

    Leonie, check out http://digital.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/2013/08/22/meet-the-assisted-digital-team/
    We’ll get down to the detail on assisting all sorts of disabilities soon. But at this stage all any inclusion tries to do is have (design) principles which apply to every citizen. How they are applied, and to whom, will always depend on particular departments.

    Reply
  7. Sue Watling

    Leonie is right. Assistive technology, in particular for people with sight loss e.g. screen magnifiers and screen readers must be more affordable and usable. Also web designers and developers need to follow inclusive practice and check their sites and pages can be accessed by people magnifying the screen and listening to content read out loud. There are too many assumptions all users see the screen and use a mouse and these attitudes must be highlighted and challenged if you are serious about digital inclusion. See the Consumer Expert Group report into the use of the Internet by disabled people: barriers and solutions. In 2009 http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/+/http:/www.culture.gov.uk/images/publications/CEGreport-internet-and-disabled-access2009.pdf
    Digital Inclusion should be about people and not money!

    Reply
  8. Andy Reed

    A really interesting read. If only other organisations would show such transparency when planing and preparing projects. Being based in Cornwall I tend to find that small businesses are at times behind the pace when it comes to technology and the digital divide. I'm a firm believer that there can never be enough training or education available for small to medium sized businesses when it comes to data protection and IT security.

    Reply
    • Emily Oyama - Digital Inclusion Team

      Thanks Andy – That's really interesting hear. We definitely see SMEs as a prime area to target and help in terms of persuading them to see the benefits of becoming mored digitally aware we know that there is a lot that they could stand to gain if we can help assist and in the coming months we hope that some of our actions that we've inferred to within the blog will help those smes that really need it.

      Reply
  9. Ron Graves

    4. Keep it safe – build trust

    Fine in principle, but currently being used to leverage censorship, a la Cameron's half-baked plan.

    It is not my duty to keep someone else's children safe – it's their parent's duty. There is, therefore no justification for limiting what I can see on my computer (and as we know, Cameron's scheme goes way beyond porn).

    I don't want porn, by the way, but I reserve the right to circumvent any attempt at censorship and if that means signing up to be allowed to view porn, then that's what I'll do.

    Reply
    • Emily Oyama - Digital Inclusion Team

      Thanks Ron – Your right to bring up the tensions around this area and it's something that we're going to have to carefully think about as we further develop the strategy and checklist.

      Reply
  10. Sue Oxley

    We are based in Conisbrough and deliver digital inclusion as a UK Online Centre which is part of the Tinder Foundation Network. The IT course for beginners http://www.learnmyway.com encourages those with no or little IT skills to develop knowledge and confidence of how to access on-line basics. We support many learners who are far removed from the labour market and struggling to achieve the very basic needs of creating a Universal Jobmatch Profile let alone a CV and the relevant cover letters required to apply for vacancies. Without Tinder Foundation and their fantastic learning tools our learners would struggle to access the support they need. Once of the comments above suggested not to re-invent the wheel, I would suggest that organisations as well as learners log on to the learn my way site and start using it for themselves and where possible go onto http://www.ukonlinecentres.com and become a centre themselves.

    Reply
  11. Peter Abrahams (OneVoice COuncil Member)

    The Onevoice for Accessible ICT Coalition is delighted to see this initiative to improve Digital Inclusion. The checklist seems to be aimed at organisations that are promoting the use of digital services to people who are not currently on-line. The checklist is fine except that it makes no mention of the needs of people with disabilities who may require special equipment, software and help. These people including the elderly make up a significant proportion of the UK population who are not on-line.

    However, our major concern with the initiative is that it is not aimed at the website and content providers nor the technology suppliers. If these organisations do not recognise the need for Digital Inclusion they will continue to create products and content that are not accessible to people with disabilities, nor usable or understandable by parts of their intended audience. If this issue is not addressed then many of the people persuaded to go online by the existing initiative will be not be able to make full use of the facilities.

    We believe that there should be a separate, but related, checklist for the content providers and technology suppliers.

    Reply
    • Emily Oyama - Digital Inclusion Team

      Peter, Leonie, Sue, Simon FJ and Robin – Thanks for bringing up a really important point. We're working closely with groups who represent the interests of disabled groups. Ability net amongst others are on our stakeholder group. It's great that some of you are talking about our assisted digital team. They are looking at how we can continue to support those who can not use digital services independently as we move towards a digital by default agenda and we're working closely with them. This particular blog might also be helpful to look at in order to understand what we are doing about accessibility across government – I think we will see what we've learnt from this and this could possibly inform our strategy overall.https://gds.blog.gov.uk/2014/01/09/what-are-we-doing-about-accessibility/

      Reply
  12. Maxine bowler

    I have read with great interest your check list for digital inclusion and am surprised that you have not mentioned the extensive work being carried out on a daily basis by the Ukonline centres co-ordinated by the Tinder Foundation.
    I am one of those centres based In Sheffield , I work for Heeley Development trust and am funded by Ukonline Centres as a Community Capacity Builder and as a result of this valuable funding I co-ordinate the Sheffield community online project.
    Our project works across the whole of Sheffield, with other Ukonline centres and by delivering an extensive outreach digital inclusion provision working with numerous partners including the Sheffield city council with whom we are trying to develop a digital strategy for Sheffield.

    My project involves the training and co-ordination 30-40 Digital champions at any one time who are recruited from the two universities, the New arrivals project, the Do-It website, the Job centre, and numerous other areas including corporate contacts, especially for the bigger one of events, like Go-on Sheffield, get online Sheffield , lets get digital, and the adult learners week.

    These volunteers have enabled us to work with the libraries services providing 6 sessions per week with the DWP to get their customers on to UJM , set up emails and start their journey to inclusion. In addition we provide general sessions in nearly all of Sheffield’s libraries. The libraries are a fantastic source of access to computers and the internet but if you don’t know how to use them , you need tuition, so this brings together access and tuition.
    The volunteers also help us to deliver a ultra – low project- in conjunction with the local Tenants and residents associations where we have installed small computer hubs( using recycled equipment, or by making small grant applications) and deliver digital inclusion classes and maintain the provision by building up local digital champions or with our volunteers.
    We also work with the schools doing intergeneration projects. or delivering sessions for parents and grand parents at their existing facilities.
    We don’t believe in re-inventing the wheel, we work with numerous partners adding value to their projects, for example working with 50+ group, RVS, Carers networks, training other people to be digital champions, or signposting those who start their engagement with digital technology but who then want to move into accredited learning, or by identifying other barriers to digital inclusion by embedding ESOL or literacy and numeracy into our Digital inclusion provision. For example;
    1. using Ipads in our ESOL classes,
    2. teaching ESOL, Literacy and numeracy online
    3. or as with our project with the NRC having tutors with language skills to teach people for whom English is not their first language.

    Our expertise is engagement and finding innovative ways of reaching out to people, who are often, nervous, feel stupid, if our older are worried that they won’t remember or think they are two old to learn or if they have barriers to learning putting them at ease and making digital inclusion relevant.
    Putting on events to help people search for jobs, or look up their hobbies- making digital inclusion relevant to their current interests like baking online or nature online, or saving money.
    Our most recent innovation has been around Online health and loneliness and isolation which has a well documented impact both on physical and mental health. Working both around the principles of self help but also linking in with the concern that many elderly people have about independently living we are now starting to deliver in Doctors surgeries, in the hospital canteens with the RVS and in peoples homes.

    Finally a big issue is online safety and fear is a big reason why people wont bank or buy online, we use the http://www.learnmyway.com the free interface provided UKOnline centres and we get all new learners to do the modules on Internet safety and many other of the modules which are a great source of free learning . We have literally had thousands of local people becoming digitally included using this website . Thanks to the funding, expertise, networking and webinars organised by the ukonline centres network.

    Reply
    • Emily Oyama - Digital Inclusion Team

      Maxine/Sue – Thanks for this information – this is exactly the kind of feedback and examples that we've been looking for. You might be interested to know that Tinder Foundation are actually on our Stakeholder Advisory Group and have helped shape the checklist and actions in this blog and will continue to help us shape the strategy. Look at this blog to find out more –https://digitalinclusion.blog.gov.uk/2014/01/12/digital-inclusion-stakeholder-advisory-group/

      Reply
  13. Robin Christopherson

    I must agree with Leonie that, regardless of what the intent going forward is regarding accessibility for people with disabilities or other impairments such as dyslexia, the fact that they are not mentioned at all in this checklist gives out the wrong message and is potentially dangerous with regards it's proper inclusion in due course. It fits very naturally in both points 1 and 2 and is very conspicuous in its absence. ItThis really should be addressed before continuing.

    Reply
  14. Dick Stroud

    How refreshing to read something from ‘government’ that is written in plain English. A good checklist and four important questions – just wished I had all the answers.

    Firstly, I would echo the other comments about the ‘devil being in the detail’. It is very difficult not to agree with the checklist questions. But, it is how they are interpreted and implemented where I suspect we might have more disagreement.

    I am not sure if these suggestions are separate checklist items or can be incorporate in the existing points.

    1. Know your precise objectives and their implications. We all know there is a spectrum of difficulty and cost involved in getting different types of people online and/or improving their existing digital skills. In general, I think a more targeted, to a specific group, approach is more effective and efficient but less inclusive. An organisation should be able to express its digital inclusion policy in terms of types of people it wants to reach and the resulting outcomes. Because we all have limited funds this invariably means that some people will be deemed less important.

    2. You talk about ‘find something they care about’ and ‘user needs’. To an extent this will define the engagement approach and the types and duration of support. As suggested in the previous point, it should be possible to define the different types of people, defined by their age, educational attainment and language ability. In many ways ‘digital inclusion’ is a product /service that has to be sold. Maybe we can learn something from consumer marketing techniques?

    3. I would suggest that it is necessary to have a “digital inclusion platform policy”. I don’t think there is much argument that tablets have significant price and functionality benefits compared with laptops. If an organisation is ‘doing digital inclusion’ it needs to decide if it will adopt a technology neutral approach or one that tries and uses the most efficient platforms?

    4. There are a number of comments about the need to take account of disabilities. I couldn’t agree more. However, all older people experience a raft of different aspects of physiological ageing. At its worst it would be deemed to be a disability. I would suggest that the broader issue of understanding and reacting to physiological ageing needs to be included. In particular I suggest all aspects of a digital inclusion strategy needs to take account of cognitive ageing.

    A few comments about your four questions.

    It would be useful know the key assumptions that determine the Government’s digital exclusion strategy? So for instance, is their agreement across government about the following:

    Q1. We all know older people are most likely to be digitally excluded. Do government departments assume this is an effect of the technological background of this age cohort or a direct effect of ageing? If it is the former, then in the long term digital exclusion will become one of the multiple factors of exclusion resulting from social factors. If it is the later it means there will be an on-going demand to help older people, not because of their background, but because of their age.

    Q2. What are the priority groups that government think should be targeted or does it give equal value to all types of digital exclusion? So for instance, is a school leaver without digital skills as important as an 85-year-old person in a care home? Sorry to be so blunt but it is would be useful to know.

    Q3. This is more of a plea than a question. The earlier GDS can give us visibility of how new government services will be implemented the more time we have to create the required skills training and help guides.

    Q4. I get some visibility of what is happening in the US/Canada and Asia Pacific to help with digital exclusion. I think there are lessons that we could learn from other countries. Perhaps we could formalise distributing knowledge from other geographies?

    I think the issues raised by the checklist and the questions deserve a longer response than these few points. We will respond directly to GDS by e-mail. Please feel free to publish the extended response if you think it worthwhile.

    Reply
    • Emily Oyama - Digital Inclusion Team

      Thanks Dick – I'm glad that you found our blog post clear to read! We try our best here to make sure this always happens. On your suggestions and feedback this really relates to what we're currently looking at. You're right to mention the need to target different groups and we're hoping some of our user research will go some way to understand what this might look like. On the other points this is really useful and definitely something the team will want to look into – do email a fuller response if you have further comments.

      Reply
  15. Paul Davies

    Engaging with people who have yet to appreciate the benefits of digital is a challenge that can best be met by first understanding why they feel it has not been important to them. We must address not just the perceived barriers such as it being "too complicated" but also barriers around relevance. Unless gaining digital skills is seen in the context of fulfilling a gap or need that other sources cannot then, for some, it is forever in danger of being seen as at best an unnecessary modern day burden and at worse an unwanted imposition. Any engagement must address the “Double D” issue that is "Digital, Disinterest". It must also address some fundamental issues and acknowledge some truths including;
    • The need for Local facilities – People will not or can not travel far.
    • Individual Attention – Especially if this was not present in a previous learning experiences
    • Maintaining Motivation – To undertake learning and continue learning.
    • Understanding the relevance of learning – How learning impacts upon aspects of their life.
    • Paced Learning – dislike of the prescribed nature of other learning experiences
    • Confidence / peace of mind – That personal circumstance have been taken care of (i.e. Childcare/ Elderly person support / costs).
    • Participant led – where the interests of the learning community help set the agenda for what they learn.
    • Continuous flexibility. There can be no one size fits all and one has to adopt a fluid approach and ‘go with the flow’.

    Innovative delivery often comes from what you find out when you first engage. Delivery needs to both address a need and gain and retain interest. Building sessions along themes rather that just a set of pre-choosen topics / skills enables new or Digitally Disinterested learners to more quickly and more fully understand the impact and use fullness of digital.
    Peer support – not necessarily as tutor or volunteer but more as Ambassadors for success. Every skill learnt is a success and building on these successes as related to those who gained them, brings a personal aspect to delivery and diminishes the strangeness of new learning.

    The benefits of digital for those not engaged or who engage only a little of such importance in todays world that they can be neither rushed, done half-heartedly or without being properly resourced. Nor is it something should be done in the isolation of a centre environment without understanding how it fits with local and hyperlocal developments, policies and community issues. All of this comes at a cost, costs which the learner should not bear. It is therefore crucial that centres and organisations have access to the appropriate funding sources that allows them to concentrating on getting the best results from the individuals who come theme. The impact and usefulness of the funding goes beyond simply paying for delivery resources, crucial as that is, if utilised well it can inform engagement strategies, build or grow partnerships, influence other stakeholders and place digital solutions at the heart of community development. To have available funding that is a tool for an individuals or a communities growth and so enabling the potential to self sustain is vital. To take for example the funding for UK online centres provided by Tinder Foundation, it helps to provide this duality of get more people using and accepting digital while growing the local partnerships and infrastructures that they can subsequently use going forward in their digital journeys. It is fair to say that such a process, and therefore the continued availability of such funding to the UK Online Centres network, is imperative.

    The resources provided by an organisation like Tinder Foundation and the network of UK Online Centres helps support digital inclusion by providing the tools that are flexible, based around need and that can support a learner through all the stages of their digital journey. Crucially it provides for the learner themselves to be part of development of what it is they want to learn, when to focus on new topics and when to progress. In addition they can be grouped into themes that address the issues of relevance and ‘instant appeal’ mentioned earlier. Whether it be the learning badges of Learn My Way or the tools available on Community How To, being able to rely on the support of a team of dedicated experts like Tinder Foundation is critical to the work of centres across the country who deal with, and resolve, just about every aspect of digital exclusion. Without the work of Tinder Foundation these tools would be lost and with it an invaluable set of resources that combat digital exclusion.

    You mention in your article performance and outcomes measuring. Its important that such things are not just measured by just numbers, important as they are. Measuring a persons progress on things other than the number of new skills is also important as it is very often these outcomes that lead to a desire to continue a learning journey. Removing barriers to digital inclusion that may have nothing to do with learning is a vital measure of performance and helps build a fuller picture of the interventions needed to get a person to where they want to be. Tools available on platforms such as learnmyway.com and communityhowto.com are ideal starting points if measuring such things is new to a centre. Together with careful monitoring of MI, it is possible to identify emerging issues before they become barriers, and to join up any persistent or recurring themes that may indicate a wider social barrier to digital inclusion. Such wider outcomes can prove invaluable in demonstrating need for future bids or project proposals.

    Becoming digitally included is more than just learning how to access an email or search the internet. It is being able to be comfortable and confident to do all the things you feel will benefit you, those close to you and the community you live in, online and by utilising the best digital can offer. It’s about gaining and sustaining employment, discovering healthy pastimes and improving your own wellbeing, making the most of your finances, even helping start or grow a business. If all of us involved in this area keep that in mind then together we can make some amazing and lasting differences.

    Reply
    • Emily Oyama - Digital Inclusion Team

      Thanks Paul – these are really useful points that the team will want to take a close look at. I think the issue and truths that you highlight really correlate with our checklist especially your points around looking at individual attention, paced learning, being participant led – this could easily come under our first point : 'User needs'. It's also interesting to hear you mention peer support. In a recent visit to a UK online centre I heard directly from users that the peer support they received was part and parcel of why they continued to learn and want to learn digital skills. All helpful insight that we will want to capture in our strategy. As I said to Maxine above – we're actually working closely with the Tinder Foundation and will continue to learn from their good work.

      Reply
  16. Laura Swaffield

    Your work – and your checklist – are refreshingly sensible by government standards.
    Unfortunately the rest of government that is working as hard as it can to destroy existing, inexpensive ways for you to achieve your goals.
    UKOnline centres were built up over some years in accessible community venues – and we all know that it does take time for this kind of thing to get rooted and well-known. But funding has been slashed, and many closed.
    Now it's public libraries.
    Two years ago there were around 4,250 of them UK-wide. All with free internet access plus staff on hand to help if needed, or leave you alone if you prefer, or run more organised sessions, with or without volunteer 'buddies'.
    Linked into a joint service called The People's Network, which includes a 24/7 enquiry service staffed by librarians worldwide.
    These libraries are very local, and uniquely trusted. There is a chance to build relationships with individual users, who will visit the library for a number of different purposes. Older people are heavy users of libraries.
    They draw in people by offering not just didi-stuff but also free books and DVDs, newspapers to read, sessions for toddlers and families, a meeting place, a friendly place to go… etc.
    All this (& more) is provided by the libraries network across the whole UK for well under a billion a year. Yep, that's all 4,250 staffed centres.

    So – for digital inclusion they tick lots of boxes re easy local access, familiar surroundings, trusted staff/trainers, provision of equipment, safe services, experiences tailored to individual tastes.
    They provide tempting free digital goodies right there, such as e-books on loan, online access to the major reference works, family history resources etc.
    And they are closely linked to day-to-day needs such as council services and the NHS.
    Final bonus – librarians are trained in information retrieval, so are uniquely trained to help navigate the web and teach digital literacy.

    Currently the Society of Chief Librarians (http://www.goscl.com) is cascading staff training nationwide (Tinder funded) linked in particular to health information and the future unplanned horrors of trying to get people on to Universal Credit.
    There's also a Euro-project (www.digital-literacy2020.eu) which has an online database of training materials in many languages and is cascading user-centred training via libraries.
    Best of all, these libraries are already there, well established, well known and well loved as a centre of their communities. Multi-functional and dead heap. No need to set up a whole load of new stuff – or staff.

    Having explained all this, I have to add that small local libraries are now closing in their hundreds. At least 300 have closed in the past two years – incredibly, the DCMS simply pretends it does not know how many. Of these, many scores are being dumped on to reluctant 'volunteers' to keep going as best they can. No guarantee of IT provision, let alone of skilled staff – or safety, or professional confidentiality.
    We expect this flood to become a torrent as this year's local authority budgets are set.

    It astonishes me that local councils are being allowed to jettison a local resource that has never been more important. The DCMS, DCLG, Cabinet Office and Arts Council (supposedly the quango for libraries) all decline to take any responsibility – or provide any advice (let alone funding) to preserve this network.

    And here you are, busily re-inventing the wheel…

    Reply
    • Mike

      Totally agree with this Laura. Libraries do, however, need to think about their "offer" a bit more carefully and take a fresh look at how they present their facilities and services.

      Reply
  17. David Brunnen

    Last year the Next Generation Digital Challenge awards highlighted some brilliant examples of Digital Inclusion projects and the 2014 programme may well do the same. Great stories. Great knowledge sharing. Great inspiration.

    The 2014 Open Call for nominations (anyone can nominate any project) will be launched on February 19th. Entry is free and is technology neutral. After the Open Call phase, shortlisted finalists will be asked to prepare a 1-page summary of their project for review by an independent judging panel. The Awards ceremony will be held as part of the NextGen 14 annual conference in November. All finalists are profiled at the conference and in media coverage.

    Further information will be posted at http://www.nextgenevents.co.uk/awards

    Reply
  18. Beth McGeever

    Hi,

    it would be good to speak to someone from Lambeth council about their Digital Buddies Scheme and how they set about implementing this? I have been tasked with looking at what our Council can do to support Digital Inclusion and this is one of the proposals I would like to include. Are GDS aware of who can be contacted at Lambeth?
    Thanks

    Reply
    • emilyoyama

      Hi Beth,

      I will send you contact details of someone from Lambeth council who can help you with your queries.

      Thanks

      Emily

      Reply

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