Silver Surfers Day 2011

This Friday, the 20th May, is Silver Surfers Day where hundreds of volunteers will be available to provide free taster sessions on surfing the internet. The sessions are located in local libraries and other venues throughout N. Ireland.

To learn more visit or watch the video below.

The power of Social Media Marketing

This is a nice, simple video showing how social media actually works – it’s all about people sharing what they like.

Charities urged to boost efficiencies through technology

The NCVO and Big Lottery Fund are calling on charities to improve their use of technology to save money and reach their target audiences more effectively.

To help with this a free ebook has been created: Survive & Thrive.  Edited by the Race Online 2012 team it contains a very useful collection of case studies from a variety of charities as well as a valuable list of resources.

Martha Lane Fox has said:

It has never been more urgent that charities think internet first.
Source: Sector gets behind Race Online 2012’s digital drive

An excerpt from Survive & Thrive:

Put technology at the heart of your organisation and you can maximise your resources, raise money, communicate more powerfully and to a wider audience, and deliver services to end users more efficiently.
Survive & Thrive

Given the current economic environment this is a timely and important resource to help organisations to continue delivering efficient services and get others online.

From our experience in EGSA of deploying efficient IT systems, we have seen great benefits being realised both internally and externally and all resulting in a better and more informed service to clients and partners.  For instance, this blog/website is provided free through

Ronnie Corbett’s Blackberry is not working

Here’s a little Christmas cheer before we break for the holidays.

Ronnie Corbett brings us this hilarious clip on technology from his new show on Christmas Day – The One Ronnie.

As many of you will have guessed it appears to be an update of the Two Ronnie’s classic ‘Four Candles’ sketch.

(Thanks to @Marthalanefox for tweeting)

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

Digital Literacy an important factor in Career Success

The University of Derby’s International Centre for Guidance Studies (iCeGS) have produced a report entitled ‘Careering through the Web‘ which explores the potential of web technologies for career development and support services.

Inadequate ‘digital literacy’ could jeopardise your future career prospects
Will ‘Digital Literacy’ Determine Your Future Career Success?

The report acknowledges the accelerating influence of the internet in career and learning exploration and job searching. It stresses the need for the public and careers professionals to maintain and grow their digital skills so resources can be better deployed within this changing environment.

Probably the most observant statement came form Ian Kinder, Assistant Director at the UK Commission for Employment and Skills when he said:

The web is now an integral part of many people’s lives. But there is more information, advice and guidance available on there for people buying a television than there is for people considering their career choices.

It’s important to remember that Digital Literacy is not only important for seeking career opportunities but is often a criterion for obtaining them as well.

Get Online Week Oct 2010

Get Online Week starts today (18 – 24 October 2010). Its aim is to help people get started with computers and the internet. Visit to learn more and check for events in your area (plus there’s a fun Splash and Grab game to test your mouse skills).

Do you know someone who needs a reason to get online?

Watch this inspiring Youtube video by Christine on how digital technology has changed her life and the benefits it has brought her family (read the captions).

Related links:

Social Media Workshop for Continuing Professional Development

The University of Ulster, School of Education is holding a workshop on social media for continuing professional development and improving professional practice.

With the emergence of social media, a new approach to learning and professional development has opened up. This workshop will help show you how it works.

Basic Workshop details:

Title: Social media for continuing professional development and improving professional practice

Date: Thursday 25 November 2010

Time: 10am -1pm

Location: University of Ulster, Coleraine campus

Enrolment Fee: £55 (£10 for University of Ulster Staff)

Facilitator: Anne Peoples (guest blogger here on the Media Literacy NI blog: CROSSING THE DIGITAL DIVIDE: a basic kit for the adult learner)

Full details and application form can be accessed from the link below (pdf document):

Library and Information Workshops

(Lifelong Learning, UU: Tel: 028 9036 6680)

Benefits of Super-fast broadband

Ofcom have published research into the benefits that next generation broadband could bring to older and disabled people to help promote independent living.

Examples include:

  • remote health monitoring and consultations
  • mentoring and befriending schemes
  • teleworking
  • life-long learning initiatives

Technology such as this should help promote independent living; health, learning, work and other social issues are mentioned frequently within the report: Next Generation Services for Older and Disabled People (pdf).

This technology will open the door to numerous beneficial applications and when realised fully in the years to come will change many people’s lives. However, it’s imperative that media and digital literacy awareness among the target group is maintained so they can benefit when it arrives.

Great resources can be found on the web such as this A- Z of computing by AgeUK; which is a good starter at any age. Hopefully, such resources will continue to evolve as technology advances and new devices and applications emerge.

Ofcom’s Communications Market Report 2010

In August, Ofcom released their annual Communications Market Report for Northern Ireland and followed it with a discussion panel event last week. As you would expect the report is detailed with an abundant supply of statistics relating to NI’s progress in communications services.

Here are a few key points:

  • A third of people in Northern Ireland use social networking sites (similar to UK average)
  • One in six people in Northern Ireland access health information online (lower than UK average)
  • Broadband take-up in Northern Ireland has reached 70% (similar to UK average)
  • 3G take-up is below the UK average and lowest among the nations

The latter point is rather disappointing, given the increase in internet enabled devices such as smart phones, and would suggest a reliance on the home and work for internet access. Could this be explained by limited and/or lower quality coverage? This point and a few similar issues were raised at the discussion panel, especially the impact it was having on rural areas and the great potential for a digital divide.  The Alan in Belfast blog has a good account of this discussion. However, the report does recognise this as a wider problem, so we in NI are not alone:

…people who live in rural locations throughout the UK … are less likely to have access to super-fast broadband, a 3G phone signal, and to have a choice of suppliers through their local fixed telephony exchange. Our research shows that the average broadband speed delivered to premises in rural locations are typically lower than in urban areas; that fixed-line take-up is often higher; and that households are less likely in rural areas to take communications services in bundles.
The Communications Market Report 2010 (pdf)

Elsewhere in the report the MyGroupNI web portal is recognised in its capacity as a digital inclusion initiative bringing together the public, voluntary and private sectors and supporting 3500 community groups across NI. In 2009/2010 it received 25 million hits and 10 million page impressions from 1.8 million visitors (this initiative is supported by Department of Finance and Personnel for NI).

What does this report mean for Media Literacy and Digital Inclusion?

Well, we are moving in the right direction and in most areas maintaining pace with the other nations. However, you are left with the impression that more could be done, both in terms of media literacy/digital inclusion awareness and infrastructure in rural areas, if everyone is to benefit from being online and we as a nation make our contribution to Martha Lane Fox’s RaceOnline 2012 goal. What are your thoughts?

Digital Participation programme is rescoped!

The Digital Participation programme led by Ofcom has been rescoped by the government as part of the public expenditure review. The limited funding that was available will be focused on supporting the activities of the campaign led by the UK Digital Champion, Martha Lane Fox.

Sadly this will have an impact on many funding applications to help people get online, but the hope is that everyone will continue their support through the Race Online 2012 campaign.

Ofcom have stated:

Ofcom hopes Digital Participation Consortium members will continue to build on the achievements of the Consortium by continuing to work together to help people get online and would encourage members to sign up as a Race Online 2012 partner or advocate. All future communications and partner work in this area will be taken forward by the Champion and her team with the support of Cabinet Office.
Source: Ofcom Media Literacy Bulletin Issue 34

Relevant links: