Digital inclusion is challenging. Throw in a pandemic and it becomes even trickier. But yet, Covid-19 also presented a huge opportunity, shining a light on the need to be online and accelerating digital engagement like never before.

For organisations at the frontline, with communities relying on their services and support but without the means or skills to do it digitally, it was frankly overwhelming. So many new and different scenarios to consider, set against a time where people’s health, wellbeing and personal circumstances were being challenged to the extreme.

Now a year on, the digital inclusion landscape has changed but the questions, obstacles and conundrums continue.

Helping over 200 organisations provide remote support during the pandemic
Questions about safeguarding
Some of the questions asked at our Safeguarding webinar in March 2021

Over the past few months, we’ve run a series of webinars as part of our Digital Champion Boost programme for The National Lottery Community Fund.

We teamed up with subject matter experts such as Age UK and Superhighways and heard from 228 people from 120 organisations providing or planning to provide digital skills support.

We scrutinised remote teaching, (the only feasible way during lockdown to help people improve their digital skills), provided practical resources and guidance and created a vital talking shop.

At each session, we asked every registrant to share their burning questions. There were many:

  • How do you reach learners?
  • How do you keep everyone safe?
  • How do you teach someone remotely?
  • How do you know what tools are best?
  • How do we build trust?
  • How is it best to get beginners started?
  • How do we equip our Champions?
  • How do we overcome the lack of equipment and costs of connectivity?
  • How do we stop people becoming disengaged again?
  • How do we help a person if they declare ‘they don’t use the internet’?
  • How do we recognise people’s limitations?
  • How do we talk about internet security without alarming learners?
  • How do you manage Champions providing remote support?
  • How do we help isolated and older people?
  • How do you help people who speak other languages?
  • How do you help people with accessibility barriers?
  • How do we empower people to recognise new scams in an ever-changing world?
  • How do we ensure no-one is excluded?
  • How do we keep our teams motivated and avoid digital inclusion fatigue?
  • How is everyone else doing it?

And these were just the tip of the iceberg.

The future of digital skills support is blended

Now, as restrictions ease, 91% of organisations we talked to will be providing remote digital skills support into the future. 88% plan to run blended activities (combining face to face with remote) on an ongoing basis.

Supporting and resourcing these organisations to move forwards will be crucially important. Indeed, two thirds (64%) could do with more help providing digital skills support beyond the pandemic.

At Digital Unite, we know our work is far from over, answering the digital inclusion ‘hows’ and making the tricky feel straightforward. Now is the time to harness this silver lining and help more people become digitally inspired than ever before.

Check out our webinars and handy resources

Over the past few months we looked at using Zoom to provide remote support, helping older people, safeguarding and life after lockdown. To catch up on all of these webinars and use or share the guides and resources take a look at our web page here