The project will aim to build a sustainable network of digitally agile older people in Inverclyde who can carry on the legacy of the project using a co-production approach. The project will provide contextualised digital support for learners based around three themes which we know through experience and listening surveys are attractive to older and disabled learners as well as Employment Support Allowance (ESA) claimants in Inverclyde: • Local History • Family History • Digital Photography
For ESA claimants these courses are attractive option as often learners lack confidence to attend employability programmes or more formal learning due to the level of challenge and pace. These courses allow learners to build their skills and confidence in a non-formal setting. It will serve to reduce social isolation.
The project will be framed in four distinct sections.
Stage One – Recruitment and Engagement • Recruitment of staff for the project • Building on existing partnerships • Creating new partnerships as necessary • Engagement of new learners through partnerships • Engagement of new learners through CLD Outreach and Engagement team • Engagement of new learners through ESA team at Job Centre Plus
Stage Two – Building Basic ICT Skills of learners through 6 week 2hr per week course • Tuition on computer basics - mouse, keyboard and computer navigation • Tuition on using a search engine to find the information they need • Tuition on bookmarking useful websites and storing data on device or cloud • Tuition on keeping in touch using emails, instant messaging and social media
Stage Three – Progression to 6 week 2hr per week contextualised provision on Local History, Family History and Digital Photography • Tuition on using a search engine to gain accurate sources of support • Tuition on using internet forums for their course • Tuition on internet security • Tuition on storing data • Tuition on creating and sharing data • Tuition on copyright and protecting content
Stage Four – Progression on to self-sustaining/co-production groups, volunteering or other learning opportunities. • Groups will have the option to continue their learning as an independent group using a co-production model with CLD. This model involves the group becoming a constituted group who run the group with support from CLD. The group works towards a structure of learning that does not require a paid CLD Tutor such as peer learning, group projects and special guest speakers. Support for this will be under taken in partnership with CLD core service and the on-going support post project will be covered by CLD. • Individuals from the project will have the opportunity to share their skills in their community through volunteering. CLD will run a volunteer training programme and support the volunteers throughout their time volunteering in the short to long term. Support for this will be under taken in partnership with CLD core service and the on-going support post project will be cover.
Project update August 2016
The project started a little later than anticipated, on April 1st 2016 We decided to run the courses in two phases: in phase 1 four groups started in May and recruited 30 learners (Project stage 1 complete). Each of these courses ran for 12 weeks, integrating contextualized ICT skills training into a study of Family and Local History Research (Project stages 2 and 3 complete July). This was a slight departure from the original plan, which was to run a six week course on basic ICT skills, followed by six weeks on Family and Local History (and digital photography). The rationale for this amendment was that initial ICT assessment identified that many of the learners had sufficient basic ICT skills to start their family and local history, which they were most motivated to do. In this way ICT development ran alongside the historical research components. Initial analysis of the Basic Digital Skills Assessment Questionnaire showed significant gains at the end of the 12 weeks.
Two of the classes ran in local libraries and completed in July. Both these groups decided to continue to meet on a voluntary basis, following the Co-production model that Inverclyde Council had successfully introduced for other classes (Stage 4 – August). One learner volunteered to act as a group co-ordinator. Each group has informal volunteers who perform roles in the group from organising materials to dealing with refreshments. Inverclyde Council CLD and Libraries services will continue to support these co-producing groups in the future. Community Work support is available if the groups want to be constituted and apply for funding. The project will continue to link in with the groups until the end of the funding period.
The other two April start groups ran in a community centre. One of these groups is on the path to the Co-production model and is currently working with a volunteer tutor and a paid member of staff from within the CLD team (not funded through this project). They are continuing to work on ICT skills and history. It is anticipated that by October 2016 they will be meeting with only support from the volunteer tutor.
Attendance in all four groups was excellent throughout. With a group of learners predominately over 55 one would expect some falling off in attendance due to health problems; furthermore much of the course was undertaken during the main holiday season. Nevertheless attendance remained above 50% in every class throughout the 12 weeks and showed no falling off towards the end of the programme. In total the 30 learners in phase 1 accumulated over 400 hours of attendance over the 12 weeks.
Evaluation for all four groups was extremely positive. Representative examples of feedback from course evaluation:
“Great IT backup” “Learnt new skills” “I found the course interesting and informative” “Excellent tutor”
Case study: A learner started the course with an interest in Family History but limited ICT skills and he was unaware of the potential for using ICT in genealogical research. Classes on the use of sites such as Ancestry.com and Scotlandspeople.gov.uk enabled him to make great strides in exploring his family tree. He became proficient at using these sites and it enabled him to develop related ICT skills (in managing information, transacting and problem solving). He reported that he was greatly impressed by what he had learned and that he and his wife now spent much of their spare time on the internet using these new skills.
Phase 2: Three more groups are starting at the end of August and will complete in November. Again it is hoped that some of these groups will continue to meet and may constitute themselves as formal voluntary organisations studying family and local history.
Project update February 2017
The project involved developing and running classes, for older and disabled people, on Family and Local History, using the internet in order to develop learners’ digital skills. Each of the classes involved two hours a week of tutor-led sessions over twelve weeks. The twelve weeks were divided approximately evenly between Family and Local History, with an optional session on Digital Photography. During the sessions tutors would introduce a topic, such as how use Internet sites to research family records or local historical events, or how to record their research. Learners were encouraged to continue with their learning after the twelve weeks by setting up self-sustaining groups.
The course was delivered in 2 phases: Phase 1 recruited learners in April 2016 with four classes (in three locations) running to the end of July. Phase 2 recruited learners in July and August and started delivery in three locations at the end of August with classes running to November. 60 learners completed the classes. 93% were aged 55 or over; 13% reported that they had support needs.
Outputs and Outcomes:
Planned Project Outcome: 50 Older people, disabled people and ESA claimants will build their digital skills to allow them to fulfil their potential and take part in the digital world. Actual Outcome: 60 Learners attended the course and achieved these outcomes. Results of the Basic Digital Assessment Questionnaire show that many learners made significant improvement in several skill areas.
Planned Project Outcome: Groups will continue their learning using the co-production model and supported by CLD and partner organisations. Actual Outcome: Learners in 6 of the 7 groups indicated that they wished to continue to meet on a self-sustaining, co-production basis in order to continue with their Family and Local History researches. As of January 2017 groups were active in five locations. In addition, plans are still developing on setting up an Inverclyde-wide Co-production type group, with the objective of supporting those interested in continuing with their Family and Local History research.
Planned Project Outcome: 5 volunteers will be trained by CLD and supported to cascade their skills learned to other older and disabled Inverclyde Residents. Actual Outcome: Co-production groups are involving volunteers in further training.
Evaluation: We carried out evaluation at the end of each class and the feedback was very good. For instance in one (anonymised) questionnaire 63% of learners said the course was ‘excellent’ while the remaining 27% said it was ‘good’. Written comments were also very encouraging. Typical responses were:
“As I’ve been trying to sort out my Family Tree for years, I’m relieved that this course is helping. It also boosts my computing skills” “This was most interesting absorbing course with a variety of facets: Genealogy, Local History and computer search skills” “Really enjoyed the course” “Not being computer literate it took me time to learn. Overall very pleased with the course.” “Course was excellent in helping and advising on how to obtain information” “I learned about different websites and where to look for information.”
We also asked learners to complete the Basic Digital Skills Assessment Questionnaire. We did find that many Learners had well developed Digital Skills before starting the course: in 6 Skill areas more than 50% of learners reported they “could carry out the skill” beforehand. Nevertheless, the number of learners able to carry out skills improved in all 11 skill areas. In several areas very significant increases in capability were seen. For instance: Verifying sources of information increased from 27.5% to 72.5% Completing Online Application forms increased from 22.5% to 92.5% and Buying Items or services from 58% to 95%.
All the learners developed appropriate skills in ICT such as: using the Internet to access a number of web sites for researching local history; applying online to join sites such as Ancestry.co.uk and ‘ScotlandsPeople.co.uk; saving information to/from USB sticks; printing. Some learners extended their skills to include: scanning photographs; using templates to record their researches; word-processing their research findings; formatting images downloaded from the internet.
Things that worked well: 1. The course itself The course structure and content was very well received by learners, as shown by the evaluation. The majority of learners were actively engaged in the course and attended most sessions. Perhaps most importantly, they clearly enjoyed the classes and wanted more. 2. Approach A learner-centred approach was taken and content were modified, as far as possible, to meet learner needs and expectations. Learners expressed less interest in Digital Photography and this was reduced to a consideration of formatting images and incorporating them into Word documents. 3. Self-sustaining groups At the end of the course six of the seven groups elected to continue to meet on an informal basis, to continue to carry out family and local history research. In addition some learners were meeting to discuss setting up a more formal co-production group to carry on with their researches.
Things that we would do differently next time: 1. Location Most of the classes were run in libraries (the Library Service was very helpful in this project, proving much of the recruitment onto the courses and well as five of the six locations). Some of the locations were less than ideal, with high noise levels at times. Nevertheless they were convenient for most learners and IT provision, together with support from library staff, was excellent. 2. Level of Digital Skills We were surprised at the relatively high level of skills that many learners had. Nevertheless, we did find that most learners made significant progress in enhancing their digital literacy. However, if we run the courses again we will hope to identify more learners with basic ICT skills. 3. Website access Some of the best websites for researching family history require subscriptions, which were clearly not appropriate for those learners on restricted incomes. We would look at alternative websites and sources of information in future.
Conclusions: The project was successful in meeting its objectives: it recruited 60 learners who were actively engaged in the course and attended most sessions. Feedback from learners was very good, with a high level of reported satisfaction.
The project was successful in enabling older and disabled people, and ESA claimants, to build their digital skills to facilitate them fulfilling their potential and taking part in the digital world. It was also great fun. At the end learners were keen to carry on with their learning and use their new found skills and knowledge.