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?

Ofcom’s Media Literacy Bulletin (Feb 2010)

Some highlights from the latest bulletin:

  • The UK Council for Child Internet Safety (UKCCIS) launched its ‘Click Clever Click Safe’ campaign.  Remember the digital Code ‘Zip It, Block It, Flag It’.
  • Digital Unite launches BeGrand.net site for grandparents
  • Hold an event for Adult Learners’ Week 2010 (15 to 21 May 2010)
  • New Quick Reads e-books launched (a particular favourite of mine)
  • YouTube launches ‘Safety Mode’

Locally:

  • The ‘Bring IT On’ campaign provides greater clarity of the NI IT sector
  • Young People gain more experience of the IT industry at UU Magee campus
  • Microsoft and PSNI roll out online safety programme in primary schools

Diary Date:

  • National Digital Inclusion Conference: Digital Participation – 10 and 11 March
  • In Media We Trust? – 18 March

These are just a few highlights, read the full bulletin on the Ofcom website.

Media Literacy e-bulletin from Ofcom (Jan 2010)

Some highlights from the latest Ofcom ebulletin:

BBC unveils 2010 media literacy activity

The BBC have a strong showing in March with BBC Radio 2 running a media literacy campaign throughout the month and BBC2’s Working Lunch having a ‘digital inclusion week’.

Online Basics course for adults launched

New courses launched to help adults gain the skills and confidence to get online: http://www.onlinebasics.co.uk/

‘Get Digital’ campaign

Digital Unite and NIACE have announced a new digital inclusion programme, ‘Get Digital’.  The focus will be on digital literacy skills for older residents in sheltered housing.

Northern Ireland – Ofcom Media Literacy Workshop

Ofcom will hold a Media Literacy workshop entitled: ‘Digital Content: One man’s journey of exploration’ on Thursday 11 February.

National Digital Inclusion Conference: Digital Participation – 11 and 12 March

The conference will bring together digital inclusion players, providers, policy makers and practitioners to share best practice, make connections and practical pledges to make digital inclusion happen. The line-up of speakers looks really good with the following to confirm: Martha Lane Fox, Tim Berners Lee, Stephen Timms MP and the Obama administration.

Games Based Learning Conference – 29 and 30 March

This again looks like another very good confernce.  It’s aimed at those interested in the positive impact that video games, social media and augmented reality technology are having on learning.  Having seen a demo of serious game technology in relation to healthcare at a recent conference in the University of  Ulster I feel this presents an exciting advancement in learning and skills development.

The full January Media Literacy ebulletin can be accessed on the Ofcom website.

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.

Technology – a spending priority

According to Ofcom’s Communications Market Report 2009 we value technology above that of holidays and meals out and have adjusted our spending to reflect this in the current economic climate.

When consumers were asked where they would cut back on spending:

  • 47% said meals out
  • 41% said DIY
  • 41% said holidays
  • Only 10% would cut back on broadband services

Peter Phillips from Ofcom said:

Despite the recession, people are spending more time watching TV, using their mobile phone or accessing the internet.

They would rather do without meals out or holidays than give up their phone, broadband or pay TV package.

Within this internet use, social networking sites were becoming very popular.

19 million (50 per cent) of internet users now visit Facebook

Learn more by:

Technology ‘priority for Britons’

Opening Access to Adults Conference

Ofcom and NIACE will hold a media literacy conference entitled ‘Opening Access to Adults‘ at the Thistle Marble Arch hotel on Monday 17 November 2008.

The main objectives are to:

  1. develop an understanding of media literacy and its relevance in modern adult learning
  2. explore the relationship between media literacy and citizenship in the 21st century
  3. share examples of good practice
  4. encourage delegates to develop media literacy strategies and activities for their own organisations

The conference will be of particular interest to practitioners, policy makers, communications officers and curriculum managers in either adult education or the third sector and those with a responsibility for developing media literacy opportunities for adults.

There are 80 places available which are being allocated on a first-come, first-served basis.

Full details, including booking, can be found here.