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.
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?