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.

Bridge the digital divide for free

The Employment and Learning Minister, Sir Reg Empey, has announced the introduction of free ICT classes for anyone wishing to improve their computer skills.

The classes are at an entry level and will be free of charge to anyone in Northern Ireland from 1 August 2010.  They will be provided by the Further Education sector and will allow learners over the age of 16 to access a suite of accredited ICT courses.

The Minister said:

The introduction of free Entry Level ICT classes means that anyone can improve their computer literacy. Those who have previously felt isolated by a lack of computer skills will now be given the opportunity to join classes at their local college which will open up a new world of learning.

This is a welcome move forward and one that will help many people get online and start their digital learning journey.  So please, pass the word along.

CROSSING THE DIGITAL DIVIDE: a basic kit for the adult learner

EGSA would like to introduce the Media Literacy blog’s first guest blogger: Anne Peoples, University of Ulster:

Now seems a good moment to reconsider the Digital Divide and how to equip adult learners to get across it.  We’re led to believe that the Divide is geographical and/ or generational but is this really the case?

Helene Blowers has identified the new Digital Divide (Reality Check 2.010), as one between those with the skills to find and use information and those without.  Among some of the skills she highlights are:

  • Knowing how to “think” about search
  • Knowing how to validate soft information
  • Knowing how to get information to travel to you instead of chasing it
  • Knowing where to find information in new “hot” channels

These skills are neither intuitive nor acquired by osmosis.  Their acquisition is critical to successful learning but they are undervalued and frequently ignored by teachers and students. Mark Moran in a recent posting highlighted growing concerns about children’s information illiteracy, indicating that so-called digital natives have in fact very limited information skills at their disposal.  What hope then for the adult learner’s information literacy skills in the digital age?

Social media can provide a solution and it is worth investing time to put together a learning toolkit, to support a personal learning environment that is fit for purpose.

So how to go about this?  These are my top 10 recommendations to include in a study skills programme for adult learners.  All are free.

  1. Learn about different tools.  Follow one of the many 23 Things courses independently.
  2. Use the online reference resources provided by Libraries NI, or any public library. Library members can access these from home.
  3. Improve search skills and don’t stick to Google. YouTube is the second biggest search engine, offering a vast array of tutorials and lectures on video.  Slideshare is also a useful source for unique content, as are Facebook’s Groups and Pages.
  4. Storing and keeping track of useful web pages is made much easier with Delicious, the social bookmarking site.  Delicious is also a useful search tool in itself.
  5. Personal start pages are a great way for individuals to access their most used social media tools and sites in one place. Try iGoogle  or Netvibes
  6. Get a Google account.  Access books and articles online on Google Books and Google Scholar.  Travel the world on Google Earth and Google Images
  7. Access educational content from universities, broadcasters, museums and individuals on iTunesU, by downloading podcasts from iTunes and check out free course material from Open Courseware and the OU’s OpenLearn .
  8. Read and follow relevant blogs. Subscribe by e-mail or via an RSS feed like Google Reader.
  9. Blogging reinforces learning and focuses thinking.  A private learning blog can record individual learning progress and form the basis of an e-portfolio.  Blogger is easy to set up and use.
  10. Filter information and cut out the timewasting sites. Use De Montfort University’s Information Source Evaluation Matrix, developed as a self-help evaluation tool for students to assess the quality of websites.

Learn how to use these tools and resources and the adult learner will be across the Digital Divide in no time

Anne Peoples

Profile: Anne Peoples has many years experience as a senior manager in public libraries in Northern Ireland, and is a Fellow of CILIP. Anne is currently a tutor in Library and Information Management at the University of Ulster, and jointly co-ordinates the modules on Improving Library Practice and Leadership in Libraries. She develops and delivers introductory courses on Web 2.0 to adult groups and at present is working with her local University of the Third Age. In 2008 she was appointed as a Trustee of the National Museums of Northern Ireland. She uses social media on a daily basis for her personal learning and professional development.

Why Guidance Professionals should be engaged with Social Media

I recently came across this useful presentation on the iCeGS website (International Centre for Guidance Studies).  The seminar was delivered by Tristram Hooley at the National Career Guidance Show in March.

He sums up the main reasons why careers practitioners (and by extension anyone whose work involves information, advice and guidance) should be embracing new technology and how it can aid professional development.  For example, he states that social media can be used to:

  • Develop interaction with other practitioners and clients and build networks
  • Share and contribute to good practice
  • Provide information and ask for feedback

Evaluating and engaging with new technologies is already an important career management skill.  He emphasises that practitioners need to develop these skills themselves in order to promote the benefits of digital literacy to clients.  The presentation also provides a quick overview of blogging and Twitter and includes a range of useful links.

He finishes with a reminder that career practitioners work all over the world in a huge range of situations and are continually learning.  A small minority are already engaged with social media; providing support, advice and building a “community of practice”. He ends with the question “Why aren’t you there?”…

NDI10 Digital Participation

The 5th National Digital Inclusion Conference is being held on the 10th and 11th March 2010 in the Vinopolis Conference Centre, London.  It’s titled ‘Digital Participation: Passing IT on’ and hopes to build momentum within the digital inclusion community by looking for practical ways to ensure that agenda is sustained.

There is a very impressive line-up of speakers and the event seems to capture the digital participation buzz.  For instance, there’s a dedicated social network site that you can join, ‘Digital Engagement‘, and the event is being streamed online free – so if that appeals sign-up here.

Last year’s event is still available for viewing free online.

The Alex Laptop

Following on from my post last year on the SimplicITy computer, a new laptop has been launched to help people confused by computers.

The Alex laptop uses a subscription based service which includes telephone support, software updates and broadband access.  The programs are simplified to reduce the learning curve and enable users to get up and running more quickly.  A number of screenshots can be found on flickr.

I can see this being a very useful tool in building up the confidence of those users just starting out and therefore another important step in the path to greater IT literacy and digital inclusion.

Tech Note:

Like the SimplicITy, Alex is also built on the open source operating system Linux which gives developers the freedom to customise the user interface to meet the needs of specific users as in this case.

Further Reading:

Microsoft College of the Future project

The Microsoft College of the Future project was jointly managed and developed by LSDA NI, Microsoft, and Southern Regional College.  The aim was to introduce lecturing staff to tools that would help with students’ learning.

The project used Microsoft’s Live@Edu software, which is a collection of Web 2.0 tools that enable tutor lead collaboration within a learning context.  Learners would use these tools to upload content to evidence assignments.

This is another good example of how Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL), especially Web 2.0, is entering the classroom and the study process to benefit all involved.  However we must remember that there is a need to ensure ICT literacy among the learners because not only do they have to study their course they also have to master the digital tools to engage with and evidence that study.

Feedback from the staff and students participating in the project was positive, with recognition of the enabling effects of such tools.

The full article can be read in LSDA’s January briefing.

Addressing the Digital Divide

An objective of Martha Lane Fox and the Digital Inclusion Task Force is to get more people benefiting from being online, especially those viewed as disadvantaged.

One of their vehicles for achieving this is the Race Online 2012 campaign:

Race Online 2012 is a national campaign to challenge and support the British government, the private sector, the media, charities, grassroots organisations and members of the British general public to accelerate all their efforts to overcome Britain’s digital divide.

We believe technology can make life easier for everyone, but particularly for those who are struggling to make ends meet, trying to find work or wanting to up their skills. While for those who might particularly need friends or professional support when struggling with a health problem or life crisis, it can be a real lifeline.

Plenty of organisations and individuals share our enthusiasm – there are countless projects up and down the country that are already hard at work helping Britain’s least privileged groups take their first steps online.

Here are a few examples:

Computer give-away scheme to begin – Disadvantaged people will benefit from a council scheme to make used computers available to local residents, instead of disposing of them.

Home Access ‘went like rocket’ – 270,000 homes next – More than 270,000 households could receive a free computer and broadband internet connection as a result of a new scheme to be formally announced at the BETT 2010 educational technology show in London in January.

A good project example is the Digital Activist Inclusion Network (DAIN) – an exciting volunteer project working across the East Midlands.  DAIN aims to promote digital inclusion by encouraging people to use technology with the help of volunteers (Digital Activists).  Funded by the European Social Fund.

If you know of other activities and projects supporting this objective please share within the comments.

Ofcom Media Literacy Bulletin Issue 28

This month’s issue has a number of reports and articles on Children’s Media Literacy.

In addition, here are a few points to note:

  1. Nominations are now open for Adult Learners’ Week Awards 2010 (closing date 29/01/2010)
  2. Silver Surfers’ Day has been confirmed as the 21 May
  3. Grand Opera House now has its own iPhone application (keeping its digitally literate audience up-to-date)

The full bulletin can be accessed on the Ofcom website.

BT Internet Ranger of the Year

As part of BT’s commitment to invest in the community they have launched the BT Internet Rangers award.  This is targeted at young people, up to the age of 16, who help others get online.

There are two awards:

  1. Internet Ranger of the Year – the winner will receive an HP Laptop plus £250 worth of IT vouchers.  There will be a winner from each region and an overall national winner.
  2. Internet Rangers Schools Award – the winning school or group of schools will receive £5000.

To learn more and apply online visit