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Feedback on the digital inclusion checklist

Posted by: and , Posted on: - Categories: About digital engagement, User research, Visits

We’ve had a great response to our digital inclusion checklist blog and would like to say a big thank you to all who contributed.

We’ve summarised the important themes below, as well as sharing a brief description of our visit to Bideford Community and Arts Centre and the conversations we had with users there.


The feedback from our blog responses

We noticed recurring themes about  why people aren’t online from the feedback, so we thought it would be handy to summarise the views under themed headings.


How easily different individuals and organisations can go online and the associated costs were the most common comments we received on the checklist.

Accessibility is a really important issue and a big challenge for people.  We know that 54% of those who have never been online are disabled.  That’s why the assisted digital team in GDS are working with government departments to ensure there is support for people who are not able to use digital by default services independently.

People told us that they wanted the ability to share and collaborate best practise more easily - be it locally or nationally.  We’re looking at how best to do this with information that is already available so that it is easy for people to find.  Knowledge Hubs might be one way to easily solve this problem.

We heard lots of great examples of the good work that libraries are doing to help people go online.  It’s clear that libraries are really important to the community, and that they can provide a good way to help people online.


Understanding what motivates people to get online; and what barriers they face is crucial to understanding digital inclusion.

There were lots of great stories about how local networks like libraries, UK online centres and local councils are using networks of volunteers to help get people online.

Yorkshire Libraries told us about their growing team of IT Buddies - who are helping them deliver one to one learning on the basics of going online; and other more specific support like using Skype, Facebook and blogging.

A UK online centre in Sheffield is training and co-ordinating 30-40 digital champions who are able to work with libraries to provide sessions with the Department of Work and Pensions to get their customers on to Universal Job Match, as well as working on other IT skills.  We’d love to hear more from others about how their network operates. The volunteers who help people get online are an example of how peers within a community can motivate others to go online.

The feedback suggests that working with peers is a great way of ensuring that the idea of going online is relevant to new users; if like-minded people are seen to be able to go online easily it can encourage others.  The feedback also suggests that making going online relevant to people’s current interests rather than prescribing to set digital topics is a great way to engage new users.


Many replies focused on the the need for controlling personal data and how this could further support trust.

There’s a focus on how people could have control over what is known and held about them by the government.  This isn’t something that we’re directly looking at, but some of you are already aware of the good work that GDS is doing on identity assurance and how this could be possibly used to establish trust in using services online.  See this blog post for more information.


We heard about how measuring outcomes should be based on a person’s development - not just on numbers - and how a person’s digital experience can benefit them more widely than by just acquiring new skills.

Maxine, who works in a UK online centre in Sheffield, told us that they and the Tinder Foundation have already started to link digital outcomes with wider health implications.

She said:

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 Royal Voluntary Service and in peoples' homes.

Face to face consultations

 As part of our consultation on the Digital Inclusion checklist, our team recently visited Cambridge Library Services, Digi Fest in Birmingham (which was a participation event with 70 housing representatives), and Bideford Arts Centre - an adult and community learning centre in Devon.


We thought we would give you a brief summary of what we found out in Devon.

The centre is part of a network of UK online centres supported by the Tinder Foundation. It offers a wide range of services including computing classes for beginners, skills training, and language classes.

We met some great learners and their tutors and asked them about the work that they do. We learnt about their motivations, barriers and what more could be done to improve digital inclusion.

The centre is dedicated to getting adults with learning disabilities and unemployed young people into work by helping them with their digital literacy.

This is achieved through partnerships between councils, job centres and various foundations.

The main incentives the team described for getting online included increased interaction through skype or email, being able to use online government services, and being more independent. However, they identified confidence as a huge barrier. Confidence in digital services, safety, security and their own ability.

How can we help someone who lacks confidence to get over this barrier and go online?  We think encouraging peer to peer networks like the digital champions we mentioned above are a good way to encourage confidence.

Do you have any other ideas?


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1 comment

  1. Comment by simonfj posted on

    Hi Guys,

    Just a few noted while I'm catching up with where you're up to.
    Re: Access. The greatest challenge here is offering citizens a personal account which they can use to access all gov services. So far as orientation is concerned, it's the first issue which needs to be addressed. We all suffer the million user name & password syndrome. So that will fall out of the iA developments.

    I'll just note that you might give some consideration to a "personal data store". I prefer to take the edu approach and consider it a "lifelong learning account". There's a bit of marketing to consider here. All the edu networks are based around each user having credentials issued by an (edu) institution. Google WAYF and edugain. Keeping it short. My suggestion would be for individual accounts to be issued by a local gov.

    Re: trust. The concept of "knowledge hubs" has formed up pretty well now. In the edu space it's well developed of course. You can see every type of "learning environment" scattered around the web. It might be useful to just go through a Moodle; just to get some idea of the kind of features that have caused the software to be the most accepted (open source) learning environment.

    If we are going to get broad social acceptance, we will need an agreement of what the eventual KH will look like. One size won't fit all, not that it's THAT important. The main thing is that any learning environment will offer interoperability (at a min, content will need to be transportable). It will be important to consider the "real time comms" as an integral part of any spec.

    Including into what? I always ask this question as any learning environment must have an audience which they are marketed to. It's easy if you think in "topical groups", and they will be in all stages of skill and confidence development. And have levels of security requirements. E.g. a user may gain enough confidence to become a mentor/moderator.

    Going down this track, we will always come back to the idea of "a directory for groups", which (for you) is the same discussion on a National level that research networks must address with a global perspective. The two must align. I'd throw the concept at a few digital librarians (with the idea that any learning hub's url will be an archive which won't move).
    Enough. All the best.