Technology changes everything, yet there are approximately 9.5 million people across the UK who don’t have basic online skills. Digitally excluded people are more likely to be socially disadvantaged, become isolated and have lower incomes, as well as less likely to manage their finances, access public services and have children who underachieve at school. Our economy is also impacted with 90% of jobs in the EU expected to need at least basic computer skills.
To improve the current situation, we believe that:
- Basic online skills are a right not a privilege.
- We need Digital Citizens, Workers and Makers to build a knowledge economy in a socially just and economically thriving society.
- The digital skills gap cannot be addressed solely by young people.
- A digitally literate population would mean UK employers could compete better on the global stage.
- Digital skills should be integrated in all learning.
- Technology should include not exclude more people in learning.
The government’s response to the FELTAG recommendations confirmed its commitment to the use of technology for learning. FELTAG is not the first report to advocate for increased use of technology in post-16 education, but is the first to link recommendations directly to the key drivers of funding and inspection. As a part of the FELTAG coalition we are currently offering a series of popular webinars bringing together practitioners, national agencies, educationalists and learners – from the UK and further afield. Access previous webinar recordings at Meeting Learner’s Needs, Online & Blended Learning and Taking FELTAG Forward.
As well as developing support for disadvantaged groups, we are also researching the needs of online learners, the use of learners’ own devices and the importance of technology in family learning. The latter links closely with the new school computing curriculum which covers aspects of digital literacy and programming.
Digital tools to help aid learning are important in all contexts. In 2015 we reviewed and updated the award winning Maths Everywhere app to make it more responsive to mobile technology and allow its conversion for use in prisons. We are also working with a number of government agencies to support the take up of technology in prisons, where security precautions can make digital learning prohibitive, despite it being just as important in prisons as outside of them.