Bridging the digital skills divide weeknote 23/06/20

This week’s note comes from team member Meg Dibb-Fuller.

TL;DR (too long; didn’t read) snapshot

  • 11 voluntary and community sector organisations joined our workshop last week (facilitated in partnership with Connect Hackney)
  • Actionable outcomes from the workshop has added two new pilots being explored (see Digital buddy programme and Digital helpline below) – making it three in total under this strand
  • The Digital skills webpage now holds even more ‘how-to’ content than it did last week

3 min read

Feedback and conversations with our partners remains our number one priority to understanding how we scale or pivot this digital skills strand.

Our key highlight over the past week… 11 voluntary and community sector organisations joined our workshop last week (facilitated in partnership with Connect Hackney). They shared how they’ve attempted to bridge the digital divide already (in particular in response to COVID-19).

What did we learn?

Digital skills are needed at all levels: at the basic level, to help people connect and benefit from Internet services and applications; at the intermediate level, to help students and job seekers get the necessary skills required by the digital economy.

How can we use these learnings to actually do something about it?

Access to the Internet (connectivity and devices) remains a key barrier. Hypothetically, if we gave everyone in need devices for free (we won’t), with unlimited data (we also won’t), will they actually use it for what we want them to? We don’t think so. Not from our learnings so far. Which is why we also need to provide accessible, free digital skills training in varying formats.

How are we doing this?

  1. The Digital skills webpage (pilot numero uno) now houses helpful how-to videos for residents (including: search the Internet, create an email account, download an app, do an online food shop) and signposting to other helpful resources.

We’re hoping to test this out with a small group of older residents (thank you Lucy M, Richard S and Eeva H) to see if they are a) useful, b) understandable and c) scalable.

Feedback captured from the Hotjar survey on the page itself as well as through our connections with local organisations will feed into future editions of the how-to content and help us understand what other content/ support is needed. We’re in the process of talking to mutual aid groups, VCSOs and others across the Borough to help create the material.

The page doesn’t sit in isolation. It is linked via other Coronavirus pages on the Hackney website and we’re looking at creating a ‘Getting online’ subsection on the site that will pull together related, existing content in one place (e.g. the digital presence guide created as part of the Find support service project for organisations to expand or improve their online presence). We’re also being promoted on the Intranet and staff headlines to maximise awareness to staff, and their friends and family. We’ll be tapping into system partner organisations (hello, NHS and HCVS) comms teams to help promote it in coming weeks.

  1. Digital buddy programmes (pilot numero dos) have been set up by workshop attendees, Citizens Online and the Salford Foundation, connecting those that aren’t digitally literate with volunteers (school kids to adults) who want to help.

We are getting guidance from Annie Gammon as to how we could explore this option with secondary school kids locally.

  1. Digital helpline (pilot numero tres) feedback from the workshop was that some people need that 1:1 peer support to get started. I mean, learning something new is pretty overwhelming!

We acknowledge this has the potential to be extremely admin heavy, but how can we make this part of the Digital skills user journey?

We’ve started working out the logistics of a helpline to support those that have tried to use the online guides, and this work continues. This is potentially with infrastructure provided by LBH and staffed by volunteers from outside LBH or redeployed staff. It’s not the sort of thing you can set up overnight but we’re working on it.

What next?

While we’ve got the Digital skills page off the ground, the other strands we’re exploring will need wider buy-in before we dive in. We’ll be presenting these in proposal format for review by the team overseeing the Digital Divide programme.

And finally… don’t be a stranger!

Feedback/ suggestions/ comments welcome, please do get in touch!

Read our previous weeknotes on the HackIT blog.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.