Breaking the Digital Literacy Barrier
In today’s world, you don’t need to go very far before you interact with a digital tool. Whether it’s checking to see what’s happening on social media, checking your bank account, or watching your favourite streaming platform. And that’s before breakfast.
Fast forward through your day, and you’ve ‘touched on’ at work, scanned documents, sent emails, logged into MyGov, researched, or even shopped online, all whilst listening to an online podcast.
For most, particularly in metro areas, this would happen without a glitch. Almost in autopilot. However, for a significant number of Australians, this daily routine is filled with hurdles. Whether through access, ability or affordability, participation in today’s connected digital society is not to be taken for granted.
Whilst digital inclusion in Australia is improving, the proportion of excluded or highly excluded Australians is staggeringly high at 28% (Source: Australian Digital Inclusion Index). For regional locations such as Cairns and Townsville, or very remote areas such as Cape York or the Northern Gulf, the numbers excluded are even more grim – at 32.6%.
Those who are excluded are most likely to fall in the lower socio-economic brackets, live in a single-person household, be unemployed, or not participate in the labour force.
A 2020 study by the ADII into the digital ability gap between Indigenous Australians and the national average found that First Nations people are even more likely to be unable to utilise the digital tools needed to navigate modern life.
Taking all this into consideration, it’s clear to see that the digital literacy barriers we face in Far North Queensland have a significant impact on a large proportion of our population, that will harm us socially and economically.
Improving digital literacy to support adult learners
We see digital skills in the same way we view the importance of language, literacy, and numeracy. So, when we developed our courses, we knew building digital literacy in tandem, was vital to improve the employability or job opportunities for our adult learners.
Starting with the basics, learners have enough time to build the necessary skills to complete courses, quizzes, and surveys. We encourage mistakes as they help build knowledge and understanding. This method of learning in small chunks, helps learners build confidence and increases their capacity and capability.
We use a variety of tools to increase digital capacity:
- Online reading, writing and other literacy activities matched to individual ability
- Targeted interactive content, surveys, and quizzes
- ‘How to’ videos and demonstrations
- ‘In platform’ communication ‘messages, results, achievements, reports, and chat facilities’
- Live webinars
We are constantly adding ‘user-friendly’ ways to increase digital skills, which in turn impacts positively on overall literacy.
Digital training that’s tailored to the learner
Digital literacy is part of everyday life, so it’s necessary our region has the capacity to navigate digital tools, or we will lose out. Rather than a one-size-fits-all approach, we prefer to tailor our training solutions around the individual.
We begin by assessing each individual’s abilities and then taking gradual steps to build their confidence and understanding of digital literacy. This includes using TV, appliances, email, text, online podcasts, apps, and social media. Our pre-assessment will indicate the gaps in their knowledge and form the basis of our Skills Explorer learning plans.
For lower-skilled workers, our Skills Explorer builds digital ability so they can apply for jobs online, access online social welfare tools, and complete online timesheets. Gradually building confidence, comprehension and increasing dexterity.
We find older adults prefer to learn by doing, so we reflect this in our training, using Skills Explorer to provide ‘scenario-based’ content that illustrates digital tools at home and at work.
Our indigenous learners, generally suffer from a lack of connectivity and equipment, impacting their ability to engage in the digital world and increase their skills. Members of our team have lived and worked in some very remote parts of Australia and are very aware of these barriers. There are solutions available, and we advise our clients as to what is available to help with their particular needs.
Our success stories
Success is measured on an individual basis too. For some, doing what may seem like the most basic function, actually opens the door to a world of possibilities for others. This is why we love what we do.
Here are just two examples of how we’ve helped tear down that barrier to digital literacy.
‘English is not my first language’
Many of our ‘explorers’ with languages other than English as a first language ignore the words they don’t understand. However, with the right basic training, they now use their mobile phones to check a translator to assist with understanding meaning and context so they can answer quizzes more correctly!
‘Digital skills to solve problems’
Two adult ‘explorers’ were having difficulty understanding industry jargon and previously would ignore these words and move on. After completing their training, they now choose to use a search engine to find the meaning of the words, while also using MS Word Editor facility to find synonyms to increase knowledge and understanding of these new words.