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Electronic Platform for Adult Learning in Europe



Teaching Basic Digital Skills to adults: A lesson from the Challenge Fund

by Jodie Crossley
Language: EN
Document available also in: FR DE IT PL ES



Access to the internet, and crucially, the skills to use it, is something that many of us in this digital age take for granted. It may come as a surprise to some then that approximately 800,000 adults across Scotland lack the Basic Digital Skills to thrive in our digital world.

So what do we mean when we say Basic Digital Skills? Using the definition developed by Go ON UK, Basic Digital Skills highlight 5 key areas:

  • Managing Information;

  • Communicating;

  • Transacting;

  • Problem Solving;

  • Creating.

Among other things these include a knowledge of internet safety, using email and social media, shopping online, filling out online applications and creating a text document. Essential skills necessary for people to flourish in an increasingly digital landscape, and especially in the workplace.

Since 2013 the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations, supported by the Scottish Government, has been leading an ambitious programme to bridge the digital skills gap in Scotland. Through initiatives such as our Digital Participation Charter and Challenge Fund, we have been bringing organisations together to share resources to tackle digital exclusion, whilst supporting small projects on the ground who are already doing just that.

Since December 2014 we have administered two rounds of the Challenge Fund, providing support to digital inclusion projects in Scotland, with a third round of projects due to start soon. Prior to the three rounds we identified four priority groups of adults, identified as particularly digitally excluded, which we would like digital inclusion projects to support. These are older people, those with disabilities, those from ethnic minority groups and people seeking benefits (including those looking for employment).

To give you a flavour of some of the range of activity we have supported here are a couple of examples:

Flourish House

Flourish House is a charity based in Glasgow which aims to help those with mental health difficulties live purposeful lives. Since the beginning of May they have been running computer classes covering topics such as using Ebay, internet safety and how to use a smartphone. Flourish House have pioneered a varied and engaging approach to teaching digital skills, putting user needs at the centre.

Centre for Nordic Studies

The Centre for Nordic Studies have been working with elderly members of the Orkney and Shetland communities to teach them digital skills through the use of the app Fieldtrip GB. This allows people to record names and stories attached to places in their local community. By enabling people to capture their memories online, this innovative project has simultaneously been able to impart basic digital skills to participants.

Administering the Challenge Fund has thus far been a brilliant learning experience but if there is one thing we can definitively take away from rounds 1 & 2, it is the importance of innovation and variety when teaching digital skills to adults. Projects do best when they focus on what matters most to the individuals they are supporting, be this learning how to use a smartphone or tablet, or applying for benefits online. For those people who lack the confidence to get online, a ‘hook’ i.e. something which they are already passionate about, such as researching or recording local history, can encourage them to take those crucial first steps in the digital world.

Rebecca Stafford, Team Support Officer at SCVO, is responsible for supporting SCVO’s Digital team in the implementation of their digital participation programme in Scotland, and in particular the development of the Challenge Fund.

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  • Giuseppina Raso's picture

    Inclusione digitale = inclusione  sociale? questa è, secondo me la  domanda del ventunesimo secolo e di cui conosciamo già la risposta. In Italia, e suppongo anche nel resto d'Europa, tutti i giorni leggiamo comunicati stampa dei nostri governanti che ci aggiornano sui nuovi servizi della rete. La banda larga è sempre pù diffusa, i servizi on line aumentano quotidianamente:  in banca, al comune, in ospedale. Non si fanno più code, basta aprire il pc di casa. Straordinario! Ma se sono una persona anziana e non ho mai usato un computer?  La Scozia ha istituito la Digital Partecipation Charter, e l'Italia? Niente! Niente! Niente!  Da qualche tempo ho cominciato a organizzare, nei limiti delle mie possibilità come presidente del centro di Educazione Permanente Università delle LiberEtà, dei corsi a basso costo e, quando possibile, anche gratuiti. Ma è una goccia nel mare!  Non è un'associazione che può risolvere un problema di così grande e grave portata. Intanto il digital divide si fa sempre più largo: ci sono sempre più giovani nativi digitali, sempre più anziani che cominciano  a non capire neanche i media classici, tutti infarciti di termini quali banda larga, app, messenger, twitter, FaceBook e ... go on.

  • Aurélia Chaise's picture

    Grazie per questo esempio Giuseppina! La invito a leggere questo bellissimo articolo di Aaron Rajania che spiega perchè l’apprendimento per le persone più anziane deve andare al di là delle qualifiche .

    Distinti saluti,