Bridging the Digital Divide

 

With the ever increasing rate of development the gap between early adopters and late adopters of technology has widened to a point where it is virtually impossible for late adopters to catch up.  This is one of the reasons for what is referred to as the digital divide.  There are other factors such as personal financial situation and access to consumer technology which, of course, contribute to this.

In Ireland however neither financial situation nor access to technology seems to be the major cause as the CSO statistical yearbook for 2012 shows.  78% of Irish homes have access to the internet.

The concerning trend is that within families where some members are well versed in the digital world, some are digitally disadvantaged.  Even though technology is readily available.

Who is considered digitally “disadvantaged”?

  • A mom who doesn’t know how to keep her kids safe on the internet
  • Someone paying too much for goods and services, because they’re not able to research online
  • A dad that doesn’t know that he can stay in touch for free with family and friends living abroad
  • A granny that’s feels outside the loop when it comes to her grandchildren’s lives because she can’t use social media
  • Someone that can’t communicate effectively via email or use public authority websites
  • A busy working person that doesn’t know how to free up family time by paying bills online, doing internet banking or having groceries delivered at their door
  • An elderly person or someone with mobility challenges that feels lonely merely because they can’t access the vast community of people around the globe with similar interests or challenges
  • Someone who isn’t capturing and sharing precious moments in life because digital technology is out of their reach

We now have a situation where digitally disadvantaged people are really trailing behind.

In the past technology added value to the lives of early adopters, while you were able to live largely unaffected if you did not adopt the devices as they came onto the market.  We now have a very different situation where digitally disadvantaged people are really affected by not adapting fast enough.  If you consider that 70% of all businesses in Ireland have a websites and a significant portion of all purchasing in Ireland is done online, not being able to harness this could become a very real drawback.

Most people over thirty five that haven’t worked with information technology in their job or attended classes are likely to be affected by this as computers and similar technology would not have been around when they were at school.  Which brings us to our real challenge, how do we narrow this gap?

white teacupPeople will often tell you that their family members are too impatient to teach them and that this only aids to their growing lack of confidence.  Online courses are of little or no help in this situation and structured courses presented by academic institutions are largely ineffective.  It is a terrifying prospect to attend a course where you will possibly be the only person in the room with no or very little IT experience, or be surrounded by people much younger than you who will possibly understand new concepts faster.

Of course any good adult trainer will tell you that if this person could get themselves as far as to attend a class they will probably be pleasantly surprised.  To most people the fear factor and the prohibitive costs of courses are enough for them to not even attempt it.

Due to all the influences discussed above have created an environment is created where many people feel marginalised and even stigmatised about their lack of technology knowledge.  Something that can be so easily corrected.  This was the motivation in starting i-tea time.

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i-tea time is a new way of learning, where learners are surrounded by people they know and trust. People who are in a similar position to them concerning technology.  Sessions are very informal and all things technology are discussed and explained in a non-judgemental way.  An exceptionally patient, qualified trainer with years of experience will facilitate the training.

All of this while having a cup of tea!  (A bit like those hostess parties from the eighties where we all bought more lunchboxes than we could use.)

Classes are most cost effective when there’s a group of between five and ten people attending (±€20 per person for a 2 hour lesson).  Larger groups can be accommodated on request, and one-to-one can be arranged.   Don’t wait, contact us today to find out more or book your session.

Click here to find out more.