Motivating older people to get online

Published by Kate Gallant on

2018 has started for the Community of Practice with visits to One Digital projects across the UK.  These visits give us the chance to see in detail how work is developing to support Digital Champions. They also provide an in-depth opportunity to look at the varied types of engagement with learners, and the training and development needs of Digital Champions.

Ahead of the visits the Community of Practice worked with the partner project leads to develop a set of detailed questions, which were then linked to a matrix of training and support being provided to Digital Champions.  This matrix and the project visits will provide a useful base of activity which will be reviewed in 12 months’ time to analyse how delivery has changed as the projects develop and improve practice.

The first visit was to Age UK Blackburn with Darwen, who are working with local partners to develop a range of activity supporting older people (over 55s) to become more digitally confident and develop Basic Digital Skills. John Verity, the local Area Coordinator, outlined the project working across this wide-reaching area.  The project’s initial focus has been in the Blackburn locality. Delivery of the project to the scale required is now leading to contact with a wider group of partners across the area, and a recognition that to deliver successfully the recruitment of local Champions will be linked to this partner commitment.

Initial work has shown that whilst it can sometimes be difficult to engage older people, once engaged their confidence and enthusiasm grows as they experience the benefits of using digital technology.  The approach had been to actively encourage those who are more digitally interested to become digital ambassadors and share their interests with their peers.  This was then linked to developing interest from the more digitally able to take on the role of Digital Champions within the scheme.  The added benefit was that this encouraged a continuing learning environment once initial training support had finished.

There is a potential opportunity to link, recognise and add value to this type of peer support.  The value of which has been shown to be significant as evidenced by the Lloyds Consumer Digital Index, which reported that 45% of those who have had support to get online received it from friends and family (by far the most significant input).

The project is developing its use of the Digital Unite Digital Champions Network training materials and used some session plans for learning inputs on topics such as staying safe online.  The need for a network of local Digital Champions was also under active discussion and early stages of development.

The Champions within the project took a flexible, learner-led approach with a strong recognition of the importance of finding the right hook to engage the older people they worked with. The learning needs of the older people were central to all delivery.

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One Digital is a UK wide partnership which promotes the use of Digital Champions to support people to learn digital skills. For organisations interested in setting up their own digital inclusion project we have developed a free Knowledge Hub of useful information and resources.

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