Seminar Feedback: Barriers for adults

Here’s the feedback on question 2 from the seminar:

Q2. Are there any particular barriers for the adults you are working with?

  1. Apart from IT skills, many adults lack confidence in using technology for everyday life – digital TV, DVD recording, text messaging, eBay etc.  Buying online should be used as a marketing tool to “sell” media literacy as it is cheaper but many adults who lack the skills will be disadvantaged. The digital divide will become the affluence divide.
  2. There are plenty of suppliers advertising their electronic communications technology but many adults need independent advice on purchases.  “Which?”  provides an excellent service but is it accessible to this market?  There may be opportunities here for a local social enterprise such as NSA PCCare in Wales.
  3. There is a need for short taster sessions to help overcome people’s fear of the computer. A long course on word processing, database and spreadsheets is not relevant for those who initially just want to get online, surf the net and send e-mails.
  4. Essential Skills needs are an issue for some adults in accessing and using IT. Again taster sessions could help engage adults in Essential Skills learning linked to IT.
  5. There is a need to provide impartial, independent guidance on purchasing computers, software and broadband facilities. Many people feel confused by what is on offer and may not always receive appropriate advice from sales people. This can prove a major barrier.
  6. There is a similar need to provide information and advice on protecting computers from viruses, spyware, etc. and for protecting children from accessing inappropriate material.
  7. Need to re-think promotional strategies. It is important to use a range of approaches as adults are different and have different needs and reasons for accessing digital technologies.
  8. Cost
  9. Can be difficult to motivate if they can’t see the relevance.
  10. Too much emphasis on the technology can be off putting – need to concentrate more on what it can do for you.
  11. Fear factor – don’t want to seem ignorant in front of others.
  12. Not enough general interest classes – not everyone wants a qualification – is government only focusing on classes that are seen as directly “economically” relevant i.e. to get people into jobs.  General interest classes can spark further study so it is wrong to dismiss them.
  13. Allow increased access through computers in work – encourage staff to try out new technologies (can lead to increased creativity, etc.).
  14. Security fears.
  15. Habit – e.g. not wanting to pay for things by direct debit – e.g. broadband because normally pay for things by cheque/cash, etc.
  16. People don’t want to invest time in learning new skills.
  17. Removing stigma and creating a sense of urgency – that NOW is the time to take action.
  18. Individual engagement is key, though resource heavy.  A network is needed.
  19. Trust needs to be built and maintained with a learner.
  20. Relevant provision needs to be accessible – varied times, start dates, with flexibility re: absences.
  21. Strategy / policies / funding need to be flexible to support this.