Gaining insight into what kind of support your users need is key. These needs should guide your digital inclusion project.
Three key actions
- Find out what access your users have to devices and connectivity
- Measure the digital skills and confidence of your users
- Focus on the things that motivate them
“My advice is, what is their interest, what do they miss? Is it a family member or being more in control of their finances? Home in on that. Don’t look at everything. They could get connected to a relative via FaceTime, do online shopping or download music. Once they learn that they’ll maybe want to learn other things.”John, Digital Champion, Fife Housing Group
Connectivity and Devices
Supporting someone to improve their digital skills will need you to explore their access to a device and their connectivity (i.e. their access to the internet and data). This could be in the home, in public spaces, owned, loaned or shared.
Scoping access to device and connectivity
You can use scoping questions throughout your project. They are helpful to set a baseline, understand needs and to measure success.
You can use or adapt these questions to help you gather information.
- Do you have access to a device? This could be a smart phone, tablet, laptop or desktop.
- What type of device do you have access to?
- Is your device in good working order?
- Is your device owned by you or loaned to you?
- Is your device shared with others? This could be in your household or wherever you access in public.
- If you have access to more than one device, which do you prefer to use?
- Do you need help to adapt your device settings to make it more user friendly? For example, adjust the font size or to set up a screen reader.
- Do you have access to an internet connection?
- Where do you have access to the internet? This could be in your home, in public or both.
- Is your internet connection reliable? This means it doesn’t drop in and out or slow down.
Sourcing devices and connectivity
You may also help someone to access connectivity and a device if they don’t currently have this. Here are some ideas from existing and emerging digital inclusion activities:
- Help them navigate options for cheap broadband. For example, people on certain low-income government benefits can access BT Basic + Broadband, which gives low cost phone line and home broadband connection.
- Loan out or donate any repurposed spare devices that you can access. This may be from your own organisation or wider networks or local businesses (e.g. by asking for old devices whenever they purchase new ones).
- Source MiFis. These are compact, wireless devices loaded with data providing a mobile broadband connection. MiFis can aid delivery in areas where connectivity is challenging. They can also help for ‘try at home’ approaches before someone might choose to invest in personal WiFi.
- Smart speakers (Alexa or Google Home) may be a better fit for someone with accessibility needs.
- Local partnerships may have access to devices and connectivity. For example, a community hub, library or refurbished equipment initiative.
- Seek funding to help buy devices and connectivity. This could be a funding pitch to your Board or applying for a grant.
Having a connected device is one part of the digital inclusion jigsaw. Having skills and motivation are also fundamental.
Each person will have a different skill and confidence level. You will need to evaluate their base level to understand what support they will need from you.
Many people have never touched a device before and many more don’t feel confident in how to use it. It is important you check with everyone you support if they have foundation skills.
These are being able to:
- Turn on a device and understand how to charge it
- Use its controls like adjusting volume or the screen view
- Navigate to the ‘home screen’ and open other apps
- Use a keyboard and mouse
- Get connected to the internet
- Create a safe and secure password and know not to share it
You can use our Foundation Skills Checklist to help measure these skills.
Once someone feels confident with these skills you can encourage them to build on this. The next step will be to build essential digital skills for life.
Essential digital skills for life
There are five key digital skills that everyone needs to navigate daily life online. They will allow a person to enjoy the opportunities available to them on the internet.
- Handling information and content
- Problem solving
- Being safe, legal and confident online
It is important you make these skills meaningful to your clients. For example, you can reframe ‘communicating’ as ‘keeping in touch with family’.
You can use our Essential Digital Skills for life checklist to help measure these skills.
You will need to motivate people by keeping your digital inclusion support person-centred. You must focus on what’s important to them, rather than making it about ‘doing digital’. They are more likely to want to engage and learn more.
You should find ‘the hook’ to help them with something in their life. For example, they may have a hobby that has useful free resources online. They may be feeling isolated, so you could help them set up and use video calling with friends. If they want to improve their health you could show them reliable information on the NHS website or apps.
Some motivation scoping questions are already built into the Essential Digital Skills Toolkit. Or, you can use and adapt these Confidence and Motivations questions to help you gather information:
- How important is being online to you?
- How confident are you as an internet user?
- What are your favourite things to do online?
- What would you like to learn how to do online?
- Why do you want to learn this?
- Do you want some help to do this?
BT Basic is a simple, low-cost phone service that is easy to understand and helps you keep in touch if you are on specific low income Government benefits.
Guide from Money Saving Expert. Inlcludes types of broadband, speeds and data.
Building digital inclusion support around what users wanted
by Glenn Liddall, People Know How
The impact of keeping digital inclusion support person-centred
by Sarah Neary, West of Scotland Housing Association
How to use the Digital Skills Checklist to build learner confidence
Increase engagement by using existing community settings to promote Digital Champions
The impact when Hanover Housing Association supported their tenants to borrow a device with connectivity
by Ben Hallett, Hanover Housing Association