Bridging the digital skills divide weeknote 15/06/20

Doesn’t time fly when you’re reading weeknotes? Yep, here’s another one. 

30s read

  • New Digital skills page to expand and bridge the divide
  • People tell us they want Zoom lessons
  • Learning from others: what’s worth reusing, borrowing or buying

3min read

This week, we’ve added a Digital skills page to the Hackney website where we will house helpful how-to content for residents. We’ve learned from our research that shopping and emailing are key skills people need if they are to function effectively online. So we’ve been busy creating a couple of videos for residents around how to do an online Iceland shop and how to create a Gmail account. Hopefully they will be fit for public consumption tomorrow. 

Resident feedback is key to understanding how we scale or pivot this first digital skills pilot. We’ll be finding out what a small subset (about 10 people) of our target audience thinks of this content. This is vital as it’s actually incredibly difficult to forget what you know. And, even if you can, your phone won’t. It automatically loads passwords from face ID, it opens emails in the app because it knows the app’s already installed, it pre-populates all personal details on a form. To start back from scratch again really takes some doing. 

Pointing in the right direction

The new page includes signposts to other resources, which will grow as we go. At first glance, there are a lot of organisations providing digital guidance on the Web. However, a hard stare reveals some cracks. Some of the information isn’t detailed enough and assumes more prior knowledge on behalf of the user than we’ve come to know can be expected. Media content uses screenshots or videos of sites that have since been updated and, if the resident doesn’t recognise what they see, this will lead to confusion. And, many of the user journeys have been recreated on a desktop when the reality is, if you’d forked out for a laptop, you’d presumably know how to use it. We’ve generated new content, which takes everything back to basics and is created on devices people have. 

There’s a Hotjar survey on the page that asks users what they would like to learn. We’ve phrased this as both brand names and tasks because, in the same way ‘Google’ has replaced ‘search’ so ‘Zoom’ has come to replace ‘have an online meeting’. Whatever way people think, we’ve got the question covered. And, true to form, our first response to the survey is ‘I want to learn Zoom’. 

The good, the bad and the utterly brilliant

We’re speaking to a few local organisations this week about their experiences in attempting to bridge the digital divide. What worked / what didn’t / what they’d do differently; plus some blue sky thinking to come up with novel ideas. Thanks to Onye at Connect Hackney for helping us out with organising this. Our trusted friend IdeaFlip will be managing the feedback.

A cold call to the Salford Foundation is also paying dividends. They’ve launched a digital buddies scheme and we’re getting a date in the diary to talk through how they pulled it off. One thing that’s really shone through during this unusual time is just how helpful and open many people in the public sector are. They’re willing to share their successes and their failures so others can learn from their mistakes. 

As soon as we have some initial, helpful learnings from all of the work above, you’ll be the first to hear about it.

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