In section 6.2 the structural factors constraining broadband adoption were reviewed for both the residential and enterprise spaces. This section first focuses on a specific adoption obstacle for residential subscribers: limited digital literacy. Addressing this obstacle requires the implementation of programs that build an understanding of the service offerings. However, building awareness requires building user confidence, explaining the benefits of use, and understanding security and privacy constraints as well. As a result, four types of initiatives, targeting digital literacy impediments will be reviewed (see figure 6.21).
Figure 6.21 Awareness Promotion Initiatives in Residential Broadband
- Digital literacy through education programs entail the inclusion of specific programs at all levels of the formal education system, requiring also the implementation of training programs for teachers
Targeted digital literacy interventions comprise the implementation of programs addressed to specific segments of the population, such as the elderly, the disadvantaged or the rural population
- Deployment of community access centers allows supplying non-adopting population with devices and access points to the Internet; in addition, the access centers can become points of delivery of training programs and user support
- The privacy and security training programs allow building the levels of trust from consumers in order to foster adoption of broadband
As mentioned in section 6.2, beyond digital literacy programs focused on residential subscribers, building awareness has also an enterprise focus, primarily targeting small and medium enterprises. In this case, the awareness emphasis comprises initiatives in training and the promotion of broadband assimilation (see figure 6.22).
Figure 6.22 Awareness Promotion Initiative in Enterprise Broadband
- Advanced ICT training is aimed at supplementing the formal education system with training of technical personnel that will facilitate the introduction and assimilation of broadband-enabled applications in small and medium enterprises
In addition to generic advanced programs, training for SMEs is specifically targeted for management and personnel working in those firms
- Consulting services provided to SMEs allow for those firms to deploy and efficiently integrate broadband-enabled applications in their businesses
- As a specific case of broadband impact, some initiatives should focus on how to build broadband-enabled businesses, thereby stimulating new firm formation
This section will explore all these potential approaches oriented toward raising awareness of broadband services. In doing so, cases and practices from both developed and emerging countries will be described and assessed.
6.3.1 Developing Basic Digital Literacy
In section 22.214.171.124 it was explained that up to 29% of broadband non-adopters in certain countries cited limited digital literacy as a reason from not acquiring service. Again, digital literacy is defined as the “ability to use digital technology, communication tools or networks to locate, evaluate, use and create information” (Hauge and Prier, 2010). Evidence from section 126.96.36.199 also showed that, when the affordability barrier is lowered through price reductions or state fostered policies, digital literacy remains the dominant impediment. Finally, research also shows that limited digital literacy is intrinsically linked to level of education, age, and ethnic affiliation.
In light of this evidence, initiatives aimed at building digital literacy need to involve both embedding programs in the formal education system and targeting non-formal initiatives to specific segments of the population (elderly, handicapped, rural poor, etc.). The structuring of digital literacy efforts should be conducted after concluding the basic diagnostic of demand gap.
188.8.131.52 Digital Literacy through Formal Education Programs
Programs oriented to fostering digital literacy through formal education consist in embedding ICT training in curricula at the primary and secondary school level complemented with targeted programs focused on teachers. This section addresses the need to introduce fundamental changes in the formal educational system in order to enhance the level of digital literacy.
Digital literacy programs embedded in the formal educational system should be, by definition, large scale and centrally driven, generally hosted within ministries of education. While providing access infrastructure (both devices and broadband), programs tend to generally focus on improving usability. As expected, the initiatives are less focused on delivering standard computer courses, emphasizing the use of IT and broadband access within course material by leveraging e-learning platforms and social networking.
Primary school programs
Primary school digital literacy programs are critically important in building broadband awareness for numerous reasons. In the first place, a large portion of the population in many emerging nations only benefit from only a primary school education (see table 6.11).TABLE 6.11
Source: World Bank*
NA - North America
LAC - Latin America & Carribean
MENA - Middle East & North Africa
EU - European Union
EAP - East Asia & Pacific
NOTE: These numbers can exceed 100 because they include students who fall above or below the typical age range for that level of education.
As such, primary schooling represents their only opportunity to get access to digital literacy training. Moreover, research has shown that students that gain access to broadband in school are more likely to use it later in their life (Goldfarb, 2006). This appeared to be particularly true among low-income households.
Secondly, and as a corollary from the first point (and shown in section 184.108.40.206), a large portion of the broadband non-adopting population has only a primary school education. In that sense, limited digital literacy and low levels of educational attainment are linked. A digital literacy program focused on primary schools would help lowering the educational barrier.
Thirdly, as shown in section 220.127.116.11, children tend to act as change agents in a household, bringing all the positive influence that stimulates Internet usage and sustains broadband adoption. By introducing intensive digital literacy programs in primary education, the initiative consists in training residential change agents that will promote literacy within low-income households. Belo and Ferreira (2012) found in researching the impact of broadband in schools in Portugal that broadband use in schools leads to higher levels of adoption in the surrounding region, and that the spillover effect is mediated by children. According to the authors school broadband use increase the probability of adopting high-speed Internet access by 20% in households with children. This translates into an increase of 5% in the penetration of residential broadband within the whole country. Spill-over effects have also been pointed at by Goolsbee and Klenow (2002), while the positive influence of children on residential broadband adoption was identified by research by OFCOM (2005) and Katz (2011).
As the examples below will show, successful digital literacy programs in primary education tend to focus holistically on the provision of computers to students, the subsidization of broadband service both for students via Wi-Fi and for schools via fixed facilities, and the intense embedding of ICT programs in the formal curriculum. In many cases, successful initiatives in this domain are associated to partnerships between the public and private sectors.
Also known as The Educational Connectivity of Basic Information for Online Learning Program, Plan Ceibal aims to provide every primary school student in the nation with a computer as part of the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) initiative. Following its initial success, the plan now includes secondary school students. Plan Ceibal also brings Internet to the schools and incorporates IT training into the curriculum.
Plan Ceibal came into existence in 2006 during the Vázquez presidency in an effort to address the country’s digital divide. By providing students with laptops that they can take home, ICT access increases not only amongst the students, but also within their families as well. In an indirect way, the provision of laptops also addresses digital literacy within the country, assuming that as students become familiar with the technology in the classroom, they then share this knowledge with family members, which then spreads to other members of the community.
By 2011, the total investment in the program amounted to approximately US$ 100 mn, or the equivalent of 0.25% of the country’s GDP and 8% of its education-related expenditures. This figure covers the US$ 250 spent per student, derived from the US$188 cost of the laptop and the US$60 in maintenance and Wi-Fi connection fees over four years.
By mid-2012, nearly 600,000 Uruguayan students owned personal computers and 99% of the nation’s 4,375 primary and secondary schools had Internet access.BOX 6.3.1"Plan Ceibal"
Source: Prusa, Anna, and Elizabeth Plotts. "Uruguay's Plan Ceibal: Can Laptops in the Hands of Primary School Students Reduce the Digital Divide, Improve Education, and Increase Competitiveness?" Capstone Project. George Washington University, 26 Apr. 2011.
"Uruguay: Plan Ceibal Ends Digital Gap in Public Schools." InfoSur Hoy. N.p., 10 Apr. 2010. Web.
Tanzania’s Ministry of Education has long recognized the importance of digital literacy and the inclusion of ICT training into its formal curriculum, as evidenced in policies such as Teknolojia ya Habari na Mawasiliano (TEHAMA) and the Primary Education and Development Plan. These goals saw limited success until a private corporation offered its assistance.
In 2011, Fusion Universal, a London-based corporate solutions provider, partnered with UhuruOne Tanzania, a local ISP, to offer Internet access to students and homes in select areas within the country. As part of the program, Fusion worked with the Tanzanian government to develop further its education policies, emphasizing the need for IT instruction. To this end, Fusion developed its own 5-year ICT curriculum for students as well as a video-based toolkit for teachers and adult learners covering topics ranging from basic computer use to software application instruction. More than 300,000 learners across the African continent now follow this curriculum. Fusion chooses its locations based on need, in line with its goal of “improving the lives of the world's poorest billion people through the use of learning technology.”
As part of the program, in 2011, Fusion brought computers and training to a free library in Moshi – known asJifundishe or “teach yourself” – emphasizing ICT training for school aged children. As the children became more comfortable using the computers, they became more interested in additional workshops and in teaching themselves computer skills.
In addition to this program, the organization also plans to run evening classes for adults in rural locations in conjunction with the Tanzania Postal Corporation, which purchased 300 laptops to implement the curriculum. Furthermore, Fusion stated its goal of working with USAID, the United States public development donor, to build ICT labs within 600 primary schools and 40 teacher-training colleges to promote digital literacy in the country further.BOX 6.3.2
"ICT Policy for Basic Education." United Republic of Tanzania MoEVT. N.p., Aug. 2007.
"What's Happened to Date." Fusion Universal. N.p., 2011.
"Uhuruone Ltd., Fusion Universal, and Tanzania Posts Corporation's PostaNet Project Launch Online E-Learning Zone." Fusion Universal. N.p., May 2011.
The Russian government has included ICT training in its education system since 1986, though until recently this training focused on secondary and higher education. In 2006, the government connected all public schools to the Internet, and with this push to increase access to technology came the introduction of ICT training to primary school classrooms. The Federal Education Agency of Russia recommended that schools develop a formal computer curriculum, encouraging the use of ICT as part of the curriculum from Grade 2 – or age seven – onward.
Beyond simply increasing the presence of ICT in the classroom, the Russian government partnered with the World Bank’s Russia office in 2004 to implement the “Education Modernization Program,” which supported the improvement of ICT skills and competencies through e-learning. While the program covered all levels of education and government services, it specified that 20% of resources must be used toward ICT at the primary school level.
The program was developed to address the disparities in ICT access and competency throughout the country. As Russia transitioned to a market economy, many regions inherited failing education systems and did not receive adequate funding to provide students with marketable skills for employment. Per the 2000 OECD PISA assessment, Russian students ranked 27th of 31 countries. The government concluded that ICT competency would improve the quality of the workforce, and that ICT could enhance the access and quality of its education system.
Once the government provided schools with basic computers and Internet connections the three phases of the 4-year e-learning project included: “(i) development of new learning materials; (ii) support for both pre-service and in-service teacher training in the introduction of ICT into teaching and learning; and (iii) establishing not less than 200 resource centers to improve access to ICT enhanced education opportunities and to disseminate new teaching practices.” Additionally, by the end of 2007, all schools had broadband connections.
The entire cost of the project totaled US$ 145 mn, broken into US$ 35 mn on learning materials, US$ 43 mn on teacher training, US$ 63 mn on resource centers, and US$ 4 mn on project management.
To measure efficacy, the program incorporated a series of 18 indicators, including: teacher competency in Internet education, the incorporation of digital resources into the classroom, and the creation of open access textbooks. The program met or exceeded each of these goals. By completion, the number of students enrolled in distance learning had increased by 75%, with the number of rural students accessing online education multiplied by 5. Further, ICT competency levels improved and the availability of e-resources grew.BOX 6.3.3Education Modernization Program (Russia)
"Education Transformation in Russia." Intel. N.p., 2009. Web. http://www.intel.com/content/dam/doc/case-study/learning-series-education-transformation-study.pdf
"E-Learning Support Project." Education. The World Bank, 30 Dec. 2008. Web.
"Implementation and Completion Results Report." The World Bank, 30 Dec. 2008. Web.
In 2008, Australia introduced measures to assess students’ digital literacy skills and comprehension. Students in years 6 and 10 (ages 12 and 16 on average) sat for standardized tests, which ranked digital literacy comprehension on a 6-point scale. The lowest level, Level 1, designated a basic understanding of how to use a computer and software. The highest level, Level 6, was reserved for students who could use advanced software features to organize information, synthesize data, and complete information products. Prior to this assessment, the country had testing in place to identify areas of weakness in its traditional literacy and numeracy education, but not in its ICT curriculum.
To develop the test, Australia’s Ministerial Council for Education, Employment, Training and Youth Affairs (MCEETYA) partnered in 2005 with the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER). The independent non-profit organization produced the National Sample Assessment of ICT literacy, the first of its kind. The initial trial tested 620 Australian students and evaluated students’ analytical skills rather than simply their software know-how.
Per the results of the 2008 testing, more than 40% of year 6 students tested at a Level 3 or higher, meaning that they could conduct simple Internet searches and identify the best source. Almost half of all year 10 students tested at a Level 4 or higher, meaning that they could conduct more complex searches and use the information they found to generate new content.
In 2011, the OECD released its results from the Electronic Reading Assessment (ERA) component of the 2009 OECD Program for International Student Assessment (PISA). The overall PISA examination tests high school students’ readiness to enter and contribute positively to society following the end of their compulsory education. The exam places high value on the ability to address “real world” situations rather than on specific curriculum items. Within this context, the ERA specifically looks at students’ ability to navigate through electronic text, as developed through exposure to ICT. Of the 19 countries surveyed, Australia ranked second in terms of the ERA.BOX 6.3.4National ICT Literacy Assessment (Australia)
"Broadband Strategies Handbook." Ed. Tim Kelly and Carlo M. Rossotto. The World Bank, 2012. Web. https://openknowledge.worldbank.org/handle/10986/6009Ainley, John. "Measuring Australian Students' ICT Literacy." Research Developments 14.5 (2005). ACER. Web.
"OECD Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA)." ACER, 2012. Web. http://www.acer.edu.au/ozpisa/assessment/
Secondary school programs
While secondary schools do address basic digital literacy skills, they tend to provide students with a more advanced knowledge than they would gain during their primary school years. Viewing digital literacy as a life skill can explain its application in a student’s life well beyond the classroom. As the global economy shifts from the manufacturing of goods to the provision of services, workers and countries require more high-level skills to stay competitive. Particularly in instances where students move directly from secondary or vocational school to the workforce, the exposure they have to ICT training via the education system has the potential to shape the trajectory of their future careers and the strength of the national economy. Employers increasingly require digital competence, and workers with this type of training also tend to acquire other on-the-job skills more easily. Further, the ICT industry tends to offer more high paying, lucrative jobs, adding financial incentive to the benefits of obtaining advanced digital literacy.
By incorporating digital literacy training into the secondary school system, policy makers can effectively bridge the digital divide, thus creating more equal workforce opportunity amongst the population. Further, employees comfortable with using the technology at work are more likely to see its value within the household.
Given that most countries now require secondary school attendance, this environment seems to serve as the ideal setting in which to introduce citizens to basic and advanced ICT training. Training cannot come to fruition, however, without the necessary technology. In addition to developing effective and applicable lesson plans, educators and policy makers must also consider the provision of personal computers coupled with broadband connectivity. To this end, an increasing number of government initiatives have focused on distributing laptops to secondary students and faculty members. Some governments, such as North Carolina in the United States, require students to pass an ICT competence exam in the seventh or eighth grade to receive a high school diploma.
As is the case with primary school digital literacy programs, educators should have some form of measurement or standardization in place to promote the efficacy of such initiatives. Successful examples have included testing, certification programs, and partnerships with international organizations. As in the case of primary school programs, successful initiatives are also based on public and private partnerships.
In an effort to promote digital literacy in the country, in 2010 Argentina established its national Conectar Igualdad program. The first phase of the program targeted the country’s secondary schools, promising equal ICT access to all students in urban and in rural areas alike.
While Conectar Igualdad aimed to distribute 3 million laptops to secondary students and teachers, it recognized that access alone would not increase digital literacy. Beyond laptop distribution, the initiative also included Internet access and internal networks within the schools, the creation of digital content, and a standardized program to train teachers on how to incorporate ICT use into the classroom. To this end, Conectar Igualdad complemented the country’s Educ.ar platform, which was designed to assist teachers in the development of an ICT curriculum by creating a standard set of materials for use throughout all schools.
In developing Conectar Igualdad, the Argentine Republic Ministry of Education partnered with other sectors of the government - the Social Security National Administration, the Ministry for Federal Planning and Public Investment and Services, and the National Executive Cabinet’s Head. By incorporating these high-level agencies, the program promoted centralization and discouraged an uneven distribution of resources.
By purchasing computers on such a large scale, each unit costs approximately US$ 350 (as opposed to the average US$ 506). While the government covers the connectivity and training costs, Educ.ar operates as a private enterprise and relies on pro-bono support from educational institutes and corporations.
By May 2012, Conectar Igualdad had so far distributed 1.8 million laptops and Educ.ar had created more than 20,000 pieces of material specific to the secondary school curriculum. Together, through increased ICT access and formal training, Conectar Igualdad and Educ.ar effectively promoted digital literacy throughout Argentina’s secondary schools.BOX 6.3.5Conectar Igualdad and Enduc.ar (Argentina)
Finquelievich, Susana, Patricio Feldman, and Celina Fischnaller. "Public Policies on Media and Information Literacy and Education in Latin America: Overview and Proposals." Proc. of Media and Information Literacy in Knowledge Societies, Atlas Park Hotel, Moscow. N.p., 28 June 2012. Web. http://www.academia.edu/1795719/_Public_Policies_on_Media_and_information_literacy_and_education_in_Latin_America_Overview_and_Proposals
"Conectar Igualdad." La Presidenta Anuncio La Adjudicacion De 1,5 Millones De Netbooks. N.p., 18 Feb. 2011. Web. http://www.conectarigualdad.gob.ar/noticias/actos/la-presidenta-anuncio-la-adjudicacion-de-15-millones-de-netbooks/
Giangola, Norissa. "What Works: Educ.ar's Strategy for a Nation Connected and Learning." World Resources Institute, July 2001. Web. http://pdf.wri.org/dd_educar.pdf
Designed to serve as an international standard for computer competency, the International Computer Driving License (ICDL) certification program was initially developed for use in European nations by the Council of European Professional Informatics Societies (CEPIS). Its success spread, however, and citizens in 48 countries now have access to the program. In order to receive the license, candidates must pass a series of tests on modules covering various ICT-related subjects ranging from word processing to web browsing. In preparation, individuals typically take a training course before sitting for the 45-minute exam.
In 2010, Senegal’s Ministry of Vocational and Technical Training established a formal partnership with ICDL – Africa and USAID to ensure a standardization of digital literacy training within the country’s schools. The project introduced the certification program to students in the country’s middle schools with the goal of certifying all students within four years.
When announcing the program, the minister of Vocational and Technical Training emphasized the potential for ICT skills to impact national development and close the socio- economic divide by potentially empowering otherwise disadvantaged groups. By partnering with ICDL, the Ministry can ensure effective quality digital literacy training. All holders of the certification have demonstrated an ICT and digital literacy competency. With the support of national governments, private corporations, and international organizations, it is now internationally recognized and available in 148 countries. To date, there are more than 11 million global candidates, making the ICDL the world’s largest end-user computer skills certification program.
The first step in implementation in Senegal involved a pilot testing of 100 students, which led to the accreditation of select institutions to serve as official training and exam centers. Following this initial phase, universities and other educational facilities joined and the program eventually expanded to include partnerships with corporations to assist with publicity and funding. Within a year, 113 middle schools registered to participate. As written into the program, local citizens run all management and training.
In the event that students cannot attend class, they have the option to download the ICDL syllabus free of charge. The examination requires a “small cost,” and supplemental training courses cost extra. While the program itself does not yet offer scholarships, corporate sponsors may do so in the future.BOX 6.3.6ICDL Accreditation (Senegal)
"ECDL Foundation." European Computer Driving Licence Foundation. N.p., n.d. Web.
"ICDL Africa." N.p., n.d. Web. http://www.icdlafrica.org/index.jsp
Gearing up Internet Literacy and Access for Students, or GILAS for short, provides public secondary schools in the Philippines with computer labs, complete with Internet connections, software, basic hardware, and Internet training. The initiative, which began in 2005, is a partnership between 26 corporations and non-profit institutions that recognize the limitations of the government’s education budget. Per the GILAS website, the project aims to deliver:
Internet access for schools with computer labs
Servers or routers, LAN cards, cables
Provision of connectivity and unlimited free Internet usage for the first year
10 computers and Internet access for schools without computer equipment
Training for teachers and administrators on networking and resource mobilization
Formulation of basic curriculum and year-long lesson plan
By providing Internet access to schools, sponsors of the project see it as a means of bridging the digital divide among public high school students. Only a small number of Filipino students attend college, largely due to the prohibitive costs of higher education in the country. Beyond a college education, many employers see Internet literacy as a hiring requisite, though this skill is typically reserved for wealthier students whose families can afford household computers and Internet connections. Without computer access or the ability to afford a college education, many students have few opportunities awaiting them at graduation. By increasing computer access and digital literacy within the school system, the GILAS project aims to produce a more qualified and highly skilled workforce.
To support the initiative, GILAS matched donations from local and foreign companies, local governments, and legislators. Per the most recently released annual report, the public sector 2009 contribution added up to approximately US$ 500,860 in addition to the private sector’s US$ 598,470 contribution. Overseas Filipino expatriates also made donations, mainly through the Ayala Foundation USA, that totaled US$ 175,980. In total, donations that year equaled US$ 1.3 million.
In 2010, the country’s Department of Education initiated its DepEd Internet Connectivity Project (DICP) with the intention of connecting all public high schools to the Internet while providing relevant monitoring through an annual allocation of US$ 1200 per school. The initiative complemented the GILAS program and leaders of both projects worked together to reach their shared goal. DICP focused more on financing schools’ Internet connections while GILAS looked more at the initial investment in the provision of ICT tools and training.
Within four years of its 2005 inception, the GILAS program connected 39% of the Philippines’ public high schools. As a result, more than 2 million students accessed the Internet and 11,621 teachers received training. By late 2012, the program had reached a total of 3,349 schools, with 3,811 remaining.BOX 6.3.7GILAS (Philippines)
GILAS: Gearing up Internet Literacy and Access for Students, n.d. Web. http://www.gilas.org/
2009 Annual Report: On the Way to Sustainability. Rep. GILAS: Gearing up Internet Literacy and Access for Students, 2010. Web. http://www.gilas.org/attachments/AR_2009.pdf
"DICP." DepEd Division of Malaybalay City. N.p., n.d. Web. http://www.depedmalaybalay.net/programs/ict/deped-internet-connectivity-project-dicp
Distance learning programs
The introduction of technology in education changes the scale in the delivery of the educational product, both in terms of resource availability as well as regarding the training of teachers and professors. In addition, by its nature, technology has the potential to break the distance barrier, becoming a fundamental tool to meet the needs of population in remote areas. The use of ICT in education can generate a significant contribution in four areas:
Learning support to students in quantitative subjects such as geometry, basic algebra and hard sciences;
Teaching support in regions where achievement tests yield results that are lower than the national average, whereby they might be linked to socio- economic, ethnic, or gender gap;
Contribution to address shortfalls in adolescent students that exhibit reading and comprehension difficulties;
Resource support for teachers;
Finally, ICT also appears to have a potential, indirectly through some of the effects mentioned above, or directly, to reduce student attrition, particularly in areas where rates approach 30%. Having said that, the return on the technology investment in education in remote areas depends on three factors: the contents delivered through technology have to be adapted to the technology format, the processes and principles guiding the teaching experience have to be redesigned in order to incorporate the technology input, and finally, teachers and professors have to be trained on the utilization of technology. These three requirements are of paramount importance in order to ensure that the technology investment in remote areas yields the expected results. In the first condition, research indicates that educational contents need to be adapted to the new teaching formats, rather than being merely copied and digitized. Under the second requirement, the teaching process has to be transformed in order to render the use of technology within a new context of enhanced learning that blends the classroom experience with the technology support. Finally, teachers and professors need to be trained so they can not only familiarize themselves with the technology but also learn how to use it effectively in the classroom.
In light of these conditions, technology plays a very important role in the transformation of the educational institution located in remote areas. In the first place, the technology platform becomes a learning tool inserted within a learning experience that is student- focused. Secondly, technology becomes a vehicle for delivering resources and teacher support. Third, technology becomes an enabler to facilitate the transition of students in an information society.
There are several broadband-enabled technology platforms that can contribute in terms of the benefits pointed above:
Video programs distributed through broadband: there is considerable research supporting the educational value of distance learning through television as a complementary resource to the classroom. With the introduction of broadband and the use of computers, the development of "learning objects", which constitute small video segments that can be easily integrated with mathematics, history and geography curricula, have become commonplace. These programs have also started to be modified in order to be able to be distributed through smartphone screen formats;
Interactive whiteboards: despite being a new technology, these tools can play a very positive role with regards to the use of methods promoting student engagement, that can be easily adapted to different learning styles;
Portable terminals, such as personal computers, tablets and smartphones can address limitations in terms of access to content, promoting student independence in those educational settings that have a small number of teachers (such as schools with a single teacher in remote areas). However, this effect can be fulfilled if content is adapted to the different screen formats, which in some cases, can be fairly small;
Virtual learning platforms: these technologies comprise traditional audiovisual tools, such as videoconferencing, or more o advanced based on the Internet, with a capability of operating in real time with an upstream channel. These types of tools can very useful in teaching semantics and conceptual mapping (such as story lines, and roadmaps to structure the writing of essays), geometry and hard sciences.
The contribution of technology in education remote areas covers numerous applications domains from distance learning to the utilization of portable terminals and computer-based tools. In the case of distance learning, research shows that students in remote areas whose primary vehicle of instruction is the technology platform tend to perform at an equivalent level that those students learning in traditional classrooms (Hudson; 2006). The studies of Witherspoon et al. (1993) show that, despite the distance and physical separation from the teacher, the students undergoing a distance learning program tend to be more motivated to learn, and are more mature. On the other hand, the design of educational material tends to be more systematic and oriented toward making the learning process more efficient. Finally, Hudson indicates that distance-learning programs combined with tutoring delivered via satellite tend to reduce school absenteeism (Hudson, 1990).
Another important effect of technology in education is the impact of the Internet. While the extent of its contribution is highly dependent on the quality of equipment and the telecommunications access, when those factors are controlled in study settings, the Internet can compensate for variables such as low training of teachers or lack of educational material (Puma et al., 2002). Social networks, which citizens access over broadband, can deliver education to students in remote areas.
Aprendaris.cl is a web portal developed in Chile with the purpose of creating collaborative social networks in support of learning and knowledge search focused on educational institutions. The project, conducted by the Universidad Tecnica Federico Santa Maria in 2008, was funded by the Chilean government at a cost of US $130.000. The portal provides several technology tools that help build online learning communities, comprised of teachers and students. At the end of 2008, the system counted 1,600 users, of which 960 were teachers and 640 students. Aprendaris.cl is a third generation web- based application based on two principles: promote user participation in the flow of information by means of offering user- friendly tools and use of semantic tools, capable of understanding context of searches and automatically generating the content that is most suited to the user.BOX 6.3.8Aprendaris.cl (Chile)
Katz, Raul L. The Contribution of Technologies to Meet Education and Health Care Needs in Isolated Regions. Rep. N.p., n.d. Web. http://www.teleadvs.com/wp-content/uploads/CAF-Education-and-Health-document.pdf
In 2008, researchers and professors from the National Research Council of Canada and the University of Manitoba launched a course on learning theory, and opened it to 25 university students (who were paying tuition) as well as to 2300 members of the public (who were not paying tuition), who could take the course online. This course was soon dubbed a “massive open online course,” or MOOC, a term that is used today to describe countless free web- based classes that are designed to reach a large audience. These classes can vary in format in terms of length, structure, level of interaction, or requirements. They all, however, stress convenience and individual learning pace. At present, two large American ventures dominate the MOOC environment – Coursera and edX.
Founded by two Stanford University computer professors in 2012, the education company Coursera has grown into a partnership with 33 global universities, offering 222 free online courses and drawing nearly 3 million students within less than a year of its inception. Courses cover a range of subject matter from education to business to foreign language. As described by Coursera co-founder Andrew Ng, this project can “bring higher education to places where access is limited, and ... give established educational institutions opportunities to raise their impact both on and off campus.”
Founded and governed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and Harvard University (both also in the United States) in May 2012, the non-profit EdX has expanded to include 12 university partners, although more than 200 institutions expressed interest in collaborating in its first year. The program started when one professor offered his electrical engineering course online and now has approximately 25 courses designed specifically for interactive online learning. By 2014, EdX will likely offer 50 – 100 courses. MIT and Harvard will also use these courses as an opportunity to study further the impact of technology on both on-campus and distance learning. EdX aims to eliminate traditional barriers to quality education access for students all over the world, including age, income, nationality, and location. With more than 900,000 course enrollments in its first year, by 2025, EdX expects to have worked with one billion students across the world.
From their inception, both Coursera and EdX have seen a large international student presence, and their emerging partnerships with international universities will likely only increase this trend and demand for online university services.
While the programs will continue to offer their online courses for free, they are both pushing a new model that will offer students formal college accreditation, but at a fee. To do so, they will soon incorporate such tools as identity-verified certificates, proctored exams, and recommendations from the American Council on Education, all of which many universities look for when considering transfer credit.BOX 6.3.9MOOCs: Coursera and EdX (United States and International)
Tamburri, Rosanna. "All about MOOCs." University Affairs. N.p., 7 Nov. 2012. Web.
"Mooc Definition." Financial Times Lexicon. N.p., n.d. Web. http://lexicon.ft.com/Term?term=mooc
Lewin, Tamar. "Universities Abroad Join Partnerships on the Web." New York Times. N.p., 20 Feb. 2013. Web. http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/21/education/universities-abroad-join-mooc-course-rojects.html?_r=0
"About Coursera." Coursera. N.p., n.d. Web.
"About EdX." EdX. N.p., n.d. Web. https://www.edx.org/about
The benefit of technology in education can materialize when its introduction is coupled by teacher training with the purpose of breaking down adoption structural constraints. In a similar fashion, technology training has to be extended beyond teachers into the mid-level functionaries of ministries of education, where the impetus for the introduction of technology tools often reside. Ultimately, one of the most important challenges in this domain is transforming the culture and resistance to technology in educational institutions and ministries of education.
The Korea-Philippines Information Technology Center (KorPhil) serves as an advanced ICT training center for the Asia-Pacific region and was inaugurated by Korean President Roh Moo Hyn and Filipino President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo in 2005. As part of its model, KorPhil offers distance-training modules for students in other regions as well as for local governments. The center aims to provide students with professional digital skills and ICT- related training relevant to the demands of the Filipino economy. While doing so, it has developed an ICT community of industry partners and individual experts and evolved into a research and development facility. By producing high skilled IT workers throughout the Philippines, the institute aims to increase the country’s competitiveness in the international market.
The institute features high-speed broadband access and satellite facilities to support web- based courses and virtual education across the country. With the ability to transmit curriculum to even the most rural regions of the Philippines, KorPhil is the only facility of its kind in the country capable of developing distance-learning modules for other institutions. To support this endeavor, KorPhil also offers training programs and enhanced curriculum development in conjunction with other ICT schools and industry experts.
As part of a government grant-in-aid initiative, the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) granted the Philippines’ Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) US$ 4.3 mn to facilitate the development of KorPhil. The Quezon City Polytechnic University and the Quezon City Local Government operate and manage the facility.
Recognizing the need for more equal educational opportunities for its students, Saudi Arabia created a taskforce dedicated to the preparation of an e-learning and distance education model. Distance education addresses such barriers as physical location and time constraints and creates opportunities for all members of society regardless of their age, gender, or lifestyle. As education quality and availability improves, so too should the country’s labor market.
In 2006, the Ministry of Higher Education contracted the Malaysian consortium METEOR to begin the first stage in the creation of the center for a cost of US$ 12.5 mn. At the time, METEOR was comprised of 14 universities and offered distance-learning programs to more than 50,000 students globally. The Center now serves as the hub for university e-learning and distance education programs, providing the resources and training necessary to create a more accessible education program while addressing the country’s shortage of qualified professors. The center also sets the standards for the design and production of materials while coordinating with international higher education institutions.
In the past five years, the Center has undertaken various initiatives, including the creation of an educational portal that facilitates the exchange of e-learning education-related experiences. The portal includes a forum where users can discuss their experiences and share their expertise in the field as well as a news section for a compilation of all information pertaining to the Center and the field of distance education. The portal also houses all digital courses and resources, which are developed by university faculty members. Because the materials are all developed as open source, students can easily access and share them. Similarly, the Center also established the Saudi Digital Library, which now offers nearly 100,000 digital books to all university students and faculty.
In Saudi Arabia, culture has likely impacted the low ICT adoption rates more so than the cost or availability of physical hardware. Beyond distance education’s direct benefits, initiatives such as the Center for e-Learning produce positive externalities, raising awareness of the importance of ICT use and understanding. As the perception of technology changes and it comes to the forefront of Saudi educational policy, teachers are more likely to introduce ICT instruction into the curriculum.BOX 6.3.11Center for E-Learning and Distance Education (Saudi Arabia)
E-Learning and Distance Education. Publication. Ministry of Higher Education, 2011. Web. http://www.icde.org/filestore/Resources/Handbooks/e-LearningAndDistanceEducation.pdf
Digital literacy for teachers
Digital literacy programs focusing on teachers represent a critical component of formal education changes. Any change in the formal curriculum in primary and/or secondary education that is not complemented with teacher retraining has a high failure rate. At best, given the digital awareness of young cohorts, these situations can result in the syndrome known as “digital children/analogue teachers,” whereby teachers are not capable of providing the necessary training and/or interacting with children on the basis of ICT usage.
Many of these initiatives go beyond increasing teachers’ digital literacy, offering resources and instruction on the incorporation of ICT training into the classroom. Naturally, the heightened exposure to these tools makes teachers more comfortable with the technology and more aware of its benefits in and out of the formal education system. Aside from schooling students to use computers and the Internet effectively, many teachers also introduce online learning supplements – such as games, assessments, and e-books – that require interaction and fast speeds to enhance the education of their students. As students become more engaged and technology use becomes second nature, they bring these skills home with them, unknowingly passing their knowledge along to other members of their families and communities.
As is the case with primary and secondary school digital literacy initiatives, the training of teachers requires an investment not only in the instruction but also in the relevant technology. Without access to computers, related software, and broadband, these programs would have little to no value or application. Various initiatives address this issue differently, though many successful programs tend to provide both students and teachers with laptop computers. Local and national government partnerships with international corporations, NGOs, and multilaterals offer both funding and quality instruction and resources that incorporate the best experiences of past projects.
The implementation of teacher training varies, but the cost efficient “train the trainer” model appears to have the best results. In this instance, project leaders work with select teachers – through online training courses, intensive workshops, or certification programs – who then train other teachers and faculty members. Some programs start with urban schools and then expand to rural schools, while others target schools with the most need. Others still selectively choose schools based on their geographic proximity to other schools and resources.
Ultimately, an investment in teachers is an investment in human capital. High-skilled teachers produce high-skilled students, which lead to large-scale and long-term sustainable economic growth.
The Microsoft IT Academy Program – which to date consists of 10,000 members in more than 160 countries worldwide – is designed to provide students with the ICT training necessary to stay competitive in the workforce. Beyond courses and certifications for students, it also offers resources for teachers and faculty members that include training, lesson plans, E-learning, student projects, and assessments. By providing such tools, teachers can more easily incorporate new technology into their classroom curricula and effectively use them to create specialized age appropriate lesson plans. The Academy allows educators to access to its e-reference libraries as well as its database of resources designed specifically for educators and students looking for advanced IT-training.
In the summer of 2010, Microsoft Nigeria partnered with the Lagos State Government to bring the IT Academy to local secondary schools in Agidingbi as part of its efforts to modernize public education. As part of this pilot, Deux Project Limited - a Nigerian company providing construction and consulting services - worked with Microsoft to provide Microsoft software-equipped laptops to the schools. The partnership was recognized as means to address the country’s lack of quality training and a resource for teachers looking to supplement their course plans with online learning tools. Deux Project Limited managed the academy while working closely with Microsoft to ensure the fulfillment of its requirements. The Academy offered students more than 175 e-learning courses and email addresses while increasing faculty access to online resources.
In January 2012, the Microsoft IT Academy concluded the pilot phase of its teacher-training program, Digital Literacy Curriculum for School Teachers. During this 2-week training, teachers learned how to utilize ICT to teach their students to do the same. This initial pilot drew 83 teachers, which in turn led to the classification of their schools as “Certified Microsoft IT Academies.”BOX 6.3.12Microsoft IT Academy (Nigeria)
"IT Academy Program Overview." Microsoft IT Academy Program. Microsoft, 2012. Web. http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/itacademy/overview.aspx
"Microsoft, Lagos Partner on IT Academy Programme." Nigeria News. N.p., 15 June 2010. Web. http://news2.onlinenigeria.com/index.php?news=33176
"Pilot Training in Digital Literacy Curriculum Concluded in Lagos State." Lagos Indicator. N.p., 29 Jan. 2012. Web. http://www.lagosindicatoronline.com/Pilot_Training.html
Since 1999, the international Intel Teach Program has trained over 10 million teachers in 70 countries. The training focuses on providing teachers with the professional development needed to integrate technology into their classrooms and improve their curricula. Intel developed its education model through partnerships with governments, NGOs, multilateral organizations, and educators and research spanning more than a decade. Ultimately, it created a program emphasizing five main facets: policy reform, curriculum and assessment, teacher profession development, ICT, and research and development. Based on these five components, Intel structures its programs to address each country’s specific education needs.
In 2006, Intel signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Sri Lanka’s Ministry of Education to implement a teacher development program designed specifically for the needs of the Sri Lanka education system at no cost to the government. The project introduced a variety of tools including “skoool Sri Lanka,” an interactive web-based program promoting math and science learning. Skoool offers students practice exams and instruction tailored to their individual areas of difficulty. In order to use the program, classrooms must have access to a PC with Internet capabilities. The Intel Teach Elements website offers Sri Lankan teachers lesson modules that promote Project-Based Learning. When teachers log in, they receive help in organizing their curricula to encourage training relevant to the demands of the 21st century.
One year after its inception, Sri Lanka organized the “South Asia Intel Teach Program Forum” for policy makers from the country as well as from India and Pakistan to promote classroom ICT integration in the region. In November 2008, the Ministry of Education hosted an awards ceremony to recognize the first 100 “Master Teachers” who had completed the Intel Teach training program. By December 2011, the program had reached 1,500 schools and 800,000 students in the country.BOX 6.3.13Intel Tech Program (Sri Lanka)
"Intel Teach Program Worldwide." Intel. N.p., n.d. Web. http://www.intel.com/content/www/us/en/education/k12/intel-teach-ww.html
"About Skoool." Skoool Sri Lanka. N.p., n.d. Web. http://www.skoool.lk/about_skoool.htm
"Intel Teach Elements: Project-Based Approaches." Intel Education Initiative, Sri Lanka. Intel, n.d. Web. http://www.intel.com/cd/corporate/education/apac/eng/lk/tools/elements/446491.htm
In 2004, Rwanda’s Regional ICT Training and Research Center (RICT) was established to strengthen the population’s ICT skills to support sustainable economic growth. The center provides students with basic training as well as the skillset needed to enter the IT industry. This emphasis on computer literacy fell in line with the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning’s “Vision 2020,” which included initiatives to prepare the country for a transition to a knowledge-based economy by 2020. Amongst other facets, Vision 2020 addressed the need to support ICT skills aimed at public sector, private sector, and civil society as well as the development of ICT network infrastructure.
In 2009, RITC announced plans to ensure computer literacy amongst all Rwandan teachers by 2010, with an emphasis on hands-on computer skills building. Phase one targeted 5,000 primary school teachers and the second phase reached secondary school teachers. While the project initially focused on teachers in urban schools, it later expanded to reach the needs of the rural teachers. The plan also included the distribution of 100,000 XO computers to schools.
Prior to this push, Microsoft Partners in Learning (PIL) worked with RITC to provide 3,000 secondary school teachers with basic ICT skills. The project took place in 2005 and received funding from the Ministry of Education. The following year, RICT conducted an in-depth ICT training project for 1,000 secondary school teachers using the same model. Both projects followed a “trainer-of-trainers” model, whereby two teachers from each school received higher-level instruction to then train other teachers and act as troubleshooters. This project had a budget of US$ 129,540. Microsoft PIL pledged an initial US$ 37,900 and the Microsoft Emerging Markets Team contributed an additional US$25,000. RITC contributed US$ 15,750, with the Ministry of Education covering the remaining US$50,890.BOX 6.3.14Regional ICT Training and Research Center (Rwanda)
Regional ICT Training and Research Centre, 2008. RITC Prospectus 2008. Kigali: RITC
"Rwanda Vision 2020." MINECOFIN, n.d. Web. http://www.minecofin.gov.rw/ministry/key/vision2020
Farrell, Glen. ICT in Education in Rwanda. Rep. InfoDev, Apr. 2007. Web. www.infodev.org
ICT in Education Support Initiatives. Rep. Ministry of Education, Science, Technology, and Scientific Research, n.d. Web. http://www.docstoc.com/docs/48796695/ICT_IN_EDUCATION_SUPPORT_INITIATIVES
Established in 1992 by the Ministry of Education, Chile’s Enlaces program addresses the country’s digital divide and introduces new technologies to public schools. Participating schools receive computers for the creation of computer labs, related software, and ICT training for teachers. Schools also have access to technical assistance and training from 24 universities and special educational content via the state educational portal, educarchile.
When implementing the program, educators first identify which schools could benefit most from an increase in ICT access. The project then targets teachers, recognizing their need for content relevant to the curriculum with an emphasis on collaboration, projects, and self-paced learning. The teachers have access to networks that enable online collaboration with other education professionals regardless of their physical location. They can then participate in Internet-based training courses related to e-learning and utilize resources such as lesson planning tools and educational portals and software. Beyond training teachers directly, Enlaces also assists in school management and leadership from the classroom level up through ministries. As an example, the program offers tools for teachers to track student progress and retain records, support systems for principals, and technology for policy makers to disseminate information more efficiently.
In 2004, Enlaces established the Funds for Broadband program, providing primary and secondary schools with funding for subsidized broadband. In 2008, the program awarded 2,644 schools broadband funding with an additional US$ 200 mn allocated for an investment in infrastructure – including Internet connections and computers – through 2010.
By 2008, 87% of Chilean students had access to ICT, which amounted to an 11:1 student- teacher ratio. 75% of all schools boasted Internet connections – 67% of which had broadband connections - and the country reported a reduction of its digital divide. Further, studies demonstrated an increase in digital literacy amongst teachers following the implementation of Enlaces, as well as a raised awareness of the value of ICT use in the classroom and more highly skilled high school graduates.BOX 6.3.15Enlaces (Chile)
"Enlaces Program, the Experience of Informatics Education in Chile." Enlaces. Ministerio de Educacion, n.d. Web. http://www.enlaces.cl/index.php?t=44
"3.6.1 Government." Connect a School, Connect a Community. ITU, n.d. Web. http://www.connectaschool.org/itu-module/1/70/en/schools/connectivity/regulation/Section_3.6.1_funding_government/
The Digital Competence Screenreader Network – or DICOMP.S-NET - project ran from January 2007 through June 2008, focusing on increasing digital literacy within Europe’s blind and visually impaired population. The project targeted the blind after acknowledging that this sector faced educational and professional discrimination as a result of their disability. Similarly, they could not benefit from many of the other digital literacy training initiatives across the region that would potentially increase their opportunities for economic advancement.
To address this issue, the project provided participants with a screen reader designed for the blind and visually impaired free of charge. The screen reader was compatible with the Microsoft suite to promote the utilization of technology applicable to every day life. To offer ICT use instruction and support, the program recruited blind and visually impaired tutors and provided them with training so that they could in turn assist participants with implementation of the screen reader and demonstrate its functions. Tutors were trained using an e-learning application.
The product dissemination phase of the project took considerable planning, and first began by distributing the screen readers to partner groups in supporting countries, which then conducted pilots and testing to suggest necessary adaptations for their specific populations. All content, such as texts and tools, was translated into the most relevant language of the country so as to reach and appeal to the largest possible group.
The European Commission funded the project in part and partners included training institutions and non-profit organizations across Europe. Berufsförderungsinstitut Steiermark (Vocational Promotion Institute) took ownership of the project. Founded and owned by the Austrian Federation of Trade Unions and the Chamber of Labor, the non-profit has offered vocational training and adult education for more than 50 years and the European Union has commissioned many of its projects. While specific financial data was not released, the approximate implementation costs fell in the €300,000 – €499,000 range. The economic impact was valued in the €49,000 - €299,000 range.
Per an assessment by the European Union, the program produced the following results:
Creation of a free screen reader in all partner languages, including all accompanying documents (menu navigation, help texts, manuals);
Tutor training for blind and visually impaired people for the screen reader, partially via an e-learning application
Dissemination through national information campaigns
National road - shows for the screen reader
International conference and symposium
This assessment concluded that the successful training of tutors had the most significant impact on the DICOMP.S-NET project.
In October 2010, President Barack Obama signed the 21st Century Communication and Video Accessibility Act (CVAA), ensuring that the visually and hearing impaired population had access to communication technology such as “video, voice, text, and other capabilities of smartphones, digital television, and internet-based video programming.” The Act serves as an extension of the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which addressed discrimination in a variety of sectors, including telecommunications. The ADA resulted in, among other requirements, closed captioning for television programming and hearing aid compatibility for telephones.
As the means of communication continue to change rapidly, the CVAA addresses such technology as VoIP, Internet streaming, and smartphones. The same requirements for televisions and telephones will now apply to cell phones, smartphones, and IP-enabled phones as well as specified communications devices. Manufacturers must now also create devices with the needs of the disabled population in mind, incorporating, for instance, means for the visually impaired to view Internet pages and emails. The act also targets video programming, including digital television, set-top boxes, DVR devices, and streaming Internet, though it does not place requirements on user-generated programming sites like YouTube. All devices that receive or play video programming must have closed-captioning and video description capabilities and provide access to emergency information.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) manages the multi-year implementation of the CVAA, creating advisory committees to oversee the progress and reporting to Congress. In 2012, the agency established the National Deaf-Blind Equipment Distribution Program (NDBEDP) as part of the CVAA. In partnership with the Helen Keller National Center and the Perkins School for the Blind, the program provides the necessary equipment and training to help the low-income blind-deaf population connect with the community through the use of ICT. Equipment can include hardware, software, and applications so long as it is designed to address telecommunications accessibility.
The FCC began the program’s pilot by designating one certified entity in each state plus the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands (53 in total) to distribute the equipment. Certified programs may also provide training on how to use the equipment as needed. The iCanConnect campaign provides outreach, assessments, telecommunications technology, and training free of charge to individuals who qualify for the NDBEDP. Only low-income deaf-blind individuals may participate in the program; the Helen Keller National Center Act and the Federal Poverty Guidelines determine these qualifications.
The CVAA permits the FCC to spend up to US$ 10 mn per year from the Telecommunications Relay Service Fund to support the program. The pilot program allocated a minimum US$ 50,000 to each certified distribution entity with additional funding commensurate with state population size. The Perkins School for the Blind will also receive US$ 500,000 annually to coordinate and promote the program.
The program will run from July 2012 through July 2014 with the potential for extension.BOX 6.3.28National Deaf-Blind Equipment Distribution Program (United States)
Pike, George H. "President Obama Signs the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act." President Obama Signs the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act. Information Today, Inc., 11 Oct. 2010. Web. http://newsbreaks.infotoday.com/NewsBreaks/President-Obama-Signs-the-st-Century-Communications-and-Video-Accessibility-Act-70569.asp
"Guide." National Deaf-Blind Equipment Distribution Program. FCC, n.d. Web. http://www.fcc.gov/guides/national-deaf-blind-equipment-distribution-program
"ICanConnect." ICC. National Deaf-Blind Equipment Distribution Program, n.d. Web. http://www.icanconnect.org/index.php
Digital literacy for the elderly
Generational differences represent another major barrier to broadband adoption. Typical age cohort where adoption starts declining dramatically in emerging countries is 40 years old (when controlling for income). In that sense, digital literacy programs conceived as extension of either universities or secondary schools have proven to be very valuable in bridging the generational gap. The overall long-term goal of these programs is to improve social inclusion of the elderly population. The primary content delivered in this type of programs are standard computer courses, in some cases tailored specifically to the needs of the elderly (e.g. email to communicate with the family, photo sharing, use financial applications, purchasing tickets online, etc.). However, in addition, digital literacy courses for the elderly give seniors an opportunity to meet people and develop a social network.
The advantage of including non-government organizations in the case of programs for the handicapped population discussed above is also applicable to initiatives focused on the elderly.
Among the best practices in the deployment of digital literacy for the elderly, the following have been highlighted:
Carefully determine needs of targeted population given the different requirements that have been observed across the segment
Create a website supporting the program, which would include self-study course modules for use on an ad-hoc fashion in community centers
Self-study programs should comprise online courses, complemented with traditional printed materials
Include an entertainment section (media, music) in the website to enhance attractiveness
Strive to coordinate the program with cultural organizations that are part of the user community (for example, they can act as advertising vehicles for digital literacy programs)
Equip program with self-contained units that could be used via touch screens and a simple menu system
If program is offered at a community center, ensure continuous presence of host instructors that can answer inquiries, take registrations, and be responsible for all technical logistics
Make sure that instructors stay after classes to act as tutors for the seniors that stay in the center working on the computers
Provide an environment where users can share their experiences in dealing with technical issues with peers, which constitutes an important retention mechanism
Digital literacy programs for the elderly attain better results when they are delivered in an environment that provides the opportunity to meet other people and break their social isolation
It is sometimes useful to involve students of upper secondary schools in the role of volunteer “digital facilitators” to teach internet browsing and e-mail use to the elders; the one-to-one relationship between the young tutor and the trainee (a concept called “intergenerational learning”) improves the learning experience
Focus on teaching material that is immediately transferable and applicable to the senior everyday life
In 1996, the German federal government established a task force to promote the inclusion of various sectors of the population into the growing information society. Under this task force emerged the “Older People in the Information Society” working group, which brought to light senior citizens’ lack of exposure to ICT otherwise found in an educational or professional context. To address the disparity, members of the committee proposed the Senior-Info-Mobile project, which came to fruition in 1998. By establishing a mobile Internet café, the project served to bring the technology to people. Offering exhibits and training inside the “café” further raised awareness of the capabilities of ICT.
Most of the tutors involved in the project were also senior citizens, which resulted in little resistance to the training on the part of participants. The group-oriented instruction also created a more comfortable environment in which to learn about and adapt to the new technology. Many of the senior citizens who participated in the program reported that prior to Senior-Info-Mobile, they had never before used a computer or the Internet. A study revealed that, following the project, 50% of participants had interest in learning more about the Internet. Many respondents said that they would have more of an inclination to invest in their own computers if they could access customer service when needed. 70% of visitors to the bus were over age 60, and more than 20% were at least 70 years old.
The Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs provided financial support for Senior-Info-Mobile. Partners IBM Germany and German Telecom donated the two-level omnibus and telephone connections, respectively, while T-Online sponsored the Internet accounts. The bus was re- designed and equipped with a Local Area Network (LAN) and six Internet terminals. It also featured a PC designed specially for blind and visually impaired people. An additional PC and AV equipment allowed tutors to host presentations.
Additional multi-sector private sponsors funded and managed promotion campaigns, public relations, and volunteer coordination. As a result of much media attention and advertisement, more than two million citizens over age 50 heard of the program through television or radio. Nearby European countries requested that the bus travel to their countries following this push in advertising.
Despite its success, at the end of the program, the Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs reduced its funding. The program attempted to refinance its costs by requiring fees from local municipalities, but many of these regions had tight budgets and could not afford to offer assistance.
In the first three years of the project, the mobile café traveled to more than 60 German municipalities, with over 60,000 citizens between the ages of 50 and 96 visiting the Senior- Info-Mobile bus and taking part in trainings and demonstrations. Beyond directly impacting participants who visited the bus and took part in the demonstrations and training, the project inspired organizations to incorporate senior ICT training into their work plans.
Despite the long reach of the program, many rural areas expressed disappointment that the bus did not reach their citizens. Some cities where Senior-Info-Mobile saw a high demand subsequently designed Internet cafes and ICT training programs with the older population in mind.BOX 6.3.29Senior-Info-Mobile (Germany)
Source: Senior-Info-Mobil: A German Awareness Rising Campaign on IST Targeting Older Citizens. Rep. SeniorWatch, 28 Dec. 2001. Web. http://www.seniorwatch.de/cases/01.pdf
In the 1990s, the Netherlands’ Ministry of Economic Affairs partnered with the Ministry of Health, Welfare, and Sport to finance a program that would promote ICT use amongst its older population. Along with other suggestions on how to address this goal while at the same time providing digital literacy training came the SeniorWeb portal, which offered activities and campaigns designed with senior citizens in mind.
Launched in 1996, the website seniorweb.nl now serves as a home page for citizens in the Netherlands over age 50, offering information, advice, and links to Internet-related websites. It emphasizes user interaction, encouraging members to place advertisements or take part in activities like photo sharing contests. On their own, users have developed chat rooms, discussion lists, and “web families.” Seniors can customize their individual experiences by choosing to utilize different features ranging from the helpdesk to email listservs that connect members with similar hobbies and online courses.
Membership includes digital literacy training courses conducted by SeniorWeb “ambassadors.” The ambassadors are all volunteer senior citizens who understand the needs of this age group. They not only teach the lessons, but also organize the courses and make arrangements with local educational institutions or Internet cafes while offering technical support as needed. The face-to-face lessons are especially valuable for those senior citizens with low education and literacy levels who may otherwise not benefit from on-screen instruction requiring considerable reading comprehension skills.
The ultimate goal of the program is to promote online participation amongst senior citizens. The project recognizes that the older population may require additional training to increase ICT awareness amongst the older population, which did not grow up using computers or benefit from digital literacy courses in the education system. The government sees the elderly as a high priority, as the country will have over four million citizens over the age of 65 by the year 2030, amounting to nearly one-quarter of the population. In comparison, only 14% of the population was over age 65 in 2005.
To join SeniorWeb, each member pays an annual 24 Euro (US$ 31) fee. The fee includes access to all areas of the website as well as a subscription to the quarterly magazine, Enter, and an annual CD-Rom. Partner organizations offer discounts on their products to members.
SeniorWeb’s network now includes 2,500 ambassadors and 110,000 members and the site sees more than 20,000 visitors per day. Research and analysis of the program indicates that the program has increased digital literacy amongst an even higher share of the population as members informally share their learned knowledge with their families, friends, and members of the community. The program has expanded to reach the 50+ population in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland.BOX 6.3.30SeniorWeb (Netherlands)
Sources: "SeniorWeb." SENIORWEB. N.p., n.d. Web. http://www.seniorweb.nl/content.aspx?id=2416
"EInclusion Factsheet - Netherlands." EPractice.eu. European Union, 4 Jan. 2011. Web. http://www.epractice.eu/en/document/5265691
"Crossing the Bridge between Functional and Digital Literacy." N.p., n.d. Web. http://www.uni-kassel.de/~ifriedri/Crossing_the_Bridge_NL.pdf
The Senior Connects Corporation has offered digital literacy services to senior citizens since 2003, increasing their computer access and ICT skills by working with senior centers, retirement apartments, and independent living facilities. High school student-volunteers teach basic computer and Internet courses and in some instances, their schools provide the computers and broadband access necessary for the training. The program is based on the “train the trainer” premise; volunteers first receive training before working with participants.
Participants do not pay to take the classes, which typically only have one or two students per tutor. The program is customized to fit the needs of the participants - who may have little or no experience with computers – using the pre-established Senior Connects Methodology.
Starting a Senior Connects program at a living facility, senior center, or senior apartment complex does not require any cost. Ideally, the chosen facilities will already have computers and Internet access. If the facility does not have such capabilities, Senior Connects offers resources for individuals or organizations looking for funding. While Senior Connects operates as a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation and does accept donations, it does not permit volunteers to ask for compensation from participants in the program.
The Senior Connects website offers instructions for potential volunteers, with topics ranging from establishing contact with senior centers to interacting with students to conducting the actual training. It also provides detailed surveys and lesson plans that the volunteers can use as well as information on college scholarships, whitepapers, and useful resources.
In the first year alone, the Senior Connects program worked with more than 11,000 residents and this number exceeded 50,000 in 2010. By 2008, the program had provided computers to more than 100 senior citizen facilities. Senior Connects now operates as part of the Net Literacy project, a larger initiative that came to fruition as Senior Connects offered more services to other sectors of the population.
Studies of Senior Connects found that not all citizens had the same needs or experienced the same rewards from the program. Participants living in independent living facilities tended to be a) older and b) more likely to have some sort of physical or mental impairment as compared with their counterparts living in retirement apartments. As a result of these factors, residents of independent living facilities typically entered the program with less technology know-how and tended to be more technophobic. The program plans to use these findings to modify its program to train this sector more efficiently.
In general, however, the study demonstrated the achievements of Senior Connects. 80% of participants had never before used a computer prior to the program, but one year following the course, 93 – 96% of senior students reported using the Internet more than twice a month. The study attributed the following factors, amongst others, to the Senior Connects’ success: one-on-one training, training provided free of charge, building computer labs where seniors already lived, modifiable training materials, and emphasizing the value of Internet use in connecting with friends and family.BOX 6.3.31Senior Connects (United States)
Source: "What Is Senior Connects?" Senior Connects. Net Literacy, n.d. Web. http://www.netliteracy.org/senior-connects/
18.104.22.168 Targeted Digital Literacy Programs
While digital literacy embedded in formal education processes are conducted in school institutions, closely linked to curricula, targeted programs entail group-specific training in the use of computers and broadband typically delivered through a range of public access centers. This section reviews the major categories of targeted programs.
Targeted digital literacy programs are of a wide variety, potentially addressing a number of objectives, not all necessarily consistent. In designing such programs, policy makers need to consider what are the goals of the program, since these goals will frame the methods of intervention. Among the goals to be considered in designing a digital literacy program, the following issues need to be considered:
What is the overall objective of the program? Digital literacy, conceived as a skill, represents the means to achieve a varying set of goals, such as improvement of quality of life, develop citizenship and promote democratic participation, or social inclusion. By outlining the ultimate objective, policy makers will help framing the program.
As expected, digital literacy programs could have more than one objective, partly driven by the population being targeted. For example, if targeting the rural poor, the purpose of the digital literacy program could include providing access to broadband, improving quality of life to prevent rural exodus to cities, and promoting social inclusion. As Hilding-Hamann et al. (2009) mention in their report to the European Commission, that differences in program objectives could “reflect different policy domains” (e.g. education, economic development, social welfare). Program objectives could also be driven by the potentially different constituencies sponsoring the program.
What is the target group? Targeted digital literacy programs take different shapes according to the population they will address. As an example, the type of content to be emphasized in program delivery will change significantly if the program aims to target the elderly (email for social inclusion and fostering of social and family ties) versus adults (applications to build employability skills). It is often the case that even needs within a single targeted group might be of different types. For example, some digital literacy programs that target the elderly have focused on helping users working with devices, while others have focused on basic operations and routines of operating systems.
Usability versus accessibility? Some digital literacy programs emphasize training and skills transmission, while others complement this with infrastructure for public broadband access. This represents a critical policy choice since access does not necessarily equate to the capability to use broadband in a productive and beneficial manner. In fact, if the primary objective is usability, experience indicates that tailored courses, complemented with intense coaching, are the more appropriate approach.
As expected, if the target of the digital literacy program is the rural poor, accessibility will be a dominant objective. A combination of both objectives – use and access- can be provided by community access centers, which will be reviewed later. Nevertheless, best practices indicate that accessibility and usability are not that easy to combine in digital literacy programs. As such, the two objectives are frequently addressed sequentially, first providing access, followed by training.
Formal versus informal delivery mode? Formal digital literacy training entails structured programs based on established curricula, learning tools, and certification. Informal training is not delivered in specific training environments, lacking a structured pedagogical process. While it might not be intuitively appropriate for targeted programs, the emergence of new Internet platforms might lead to the adoption of informal approaches.
Scale of implementation? This question addresses whether programs will be focused on a particular region, or deployed on a national scale. In Hilding- Hamann et al. (2009) view, “national programs are rooted in centralized policies at the national level and (...) seen as strategically linked to government objectives”, such as building an information society. In general terms, local programs, while having a more limited impact across targeted populations, tend to experience a large sustainability success rate due to more limited funding requirements. Nevertheless, Hilding-Hamann et al. (2009) did not find a relation between size of the program and sustainability.
Sustainability is a primary concern of targeted digital literacy programs. In their review of 464 programs, Hilding-Hamann et al. (2009) estimated that 22% of them had been discontinued. Furthermore, they found that program sustainability is generally linked to the number of stakeholders (“more than half of the (ongoing) initiatives have been delivered by three or more implementers”).
Device focus: Until now, the great majority of digital literacy programs have focused on personal computers connected to broadband technology. However, with the growing importance of wireless broadband and smartphones, the need to make decisions on what kind of device the digital literacy program focuses on will become very important.
In the ten year period between 1998 and 2008, the number of domestic IT jobs in the United States increased 26%, compared to just 6% of overall employment growth. Nearly all Americans (96%) now use ICT daily, and the majority (62%) uses the Internet as part of their jobs. Further, these skills allow citizens to search and apply for these jobs and promote access to other valuable resources such as online college courses and government services. Digital literacy ultimately improves not only the employment opportunities for individual citizens, but the country’s competitiveness and economy as well. In the United States, for instance, Internet-related jobs in the country added US$ 300 billion in economic activity to its GDP in 2009.*
Other developed countries experience the same need for employees with digital know how. In the UK, for instance, 90% of jobs require “some level of IT competency.” With more than 10 million Internet users in the country, those citizens without access or digital literacy skills will soon find themselves “even more isolated and disadvantaged,” particularly as every day services move online.
As such, the larger education system and national initiatives should focus on the provision of digital literacy training at all levels. Students must leave the classroom ready to enter a world requiring IT skills, while adults must have access to necessary instruction to keep pace with the skill-biased technological change. Incorporating such programs into the education system ensures sustainability and funding. As a basic skill – much like traditional literacy and numeracy – digital literacy ought to be included in all areas of the formal curriculum. Further, numerous studies have shown a link between digital literacy and excellence in other academic areas, concluding that technology use in the classroom contributes not only to digital literacy, but also to improvements in mathematics, science, and “learning motivation.”
In 2007, the UNESCO Education Council identified 16 core indicators of education and training, many of which directly related to digital literacy and emphasized digital competence.* The framework developed stressed the importance of integrating ICT skills into the education system and establishing professional development for educators through e-learning courses. Subsequent UNESCO reports recognize, however, the difficulties school systems face in developing this integration, and continue to stress the importance of teacher digital competency. Not only must teachers know how to use ICT themselves, but they must also be well versed in methods to utilize ICT to deliver educational instruction.
Beyond acting as a “gateway” for employment, digital literacy skills affect citizens’ ability to develop other skillsets. Access to online courses, for instance, can offer both academic and real world instruction, while social and professional networking sites can improve and expand an applicant’s job search. As an example, the site LinkedIn now boasts more than 200 million worldwide users, and the majority of its job listings look for future employees in the IT, financial services, and management consulting fields – industries typically offering higher-paying jobs. Without universal digital literacy and the knowledge necessary to navigate through such sites, opportunity stratification will only continue to increase.
Adult education programs
Adult education programs are focused on upgrading the skills of the workforce, therefore preparing it to fulfill a productive role in the digital economy. They can be structured around conventional continuing education courses, as extension programs of universities, or organized under economic development efforts focused on specific regions of a country.
As Hilding-Hamann et al. (2009) concluded in their extensive review of digital literacy programs, a large portion of these programs are targeted to the unemployed, with the objective of increasing their employability. In this context, these programs tend to provide a certification (such as EDCL reviewed above) to provide a proof of skill. On the other hand, digital literacy programs focused on adults with a low education level represent an opportunity to provide a second chance instruction, thereby enhancing their personal development.
Some of the best practices captured in the assessment of adult digital literacy programs include the following:
Consider delivering courses in mobile settings (e.g. trucks equipped with computers, servers, and mobile broadband) to make it easier for people to participate in different geographies, thus enlarging the reach of the program; the mobile unit and instructors can arrive in one town, install the equipment in a library, a city hall or any community center, offer the five day courses, and then move on to the next location
Allow participants to borrow equipment and take it home to continue practicing after the training sessions (although this could face some logistical difficulties)
The formal course should last approximately five days and be delivered to groups not larger than 12 individuals, so each of them gets proper attention
After completion of the formal course, users can enroll in a web-based program
Waive enrollment fee for unemployed adults, but consider charging for others
In this context, certification (proof that the appropriate training was delivered and received) becomes critical. In 2008, Cisco commissioned Forrester Consulting to determine the importance of formal certifications in hiring decisions. By surveying IT hiring managers across the world, the resulting study concluded that “certifications were second only to a college degree to qualify for jobs and the top criteria used in determining ability to perform the job,” because they serve to “validate the skills required for computer support technicians and for careers in IT networking.”*
As an example, the Microsoft IT Academy Program* focuses on technology career training. Upon completing the program, students receive certification demonstrating that they have acquired “21st century technology skills.” Academy membership offers educators professional development opportunities, technology-centric curriculum and lesson plans, E-learning, student projects, and assessments. At present, Microsoft has more than 10,000 IT Academy members in more than 160 countries.
The program stresses formal certification through the “alignment of academic and vocational standards and courses.” The academies provide educators with curriculum mapping to ensure that instruction properly prepares students to receive Microsoft certifications. The mappings pair curriculum and certifications including:
Microsoft Digital Literacy Curriculum (MDLC)
Microsoft Office Specialist (version independent and including MCAS)
Microsoft Technology Associate (MTA)
Microsoft Technical Certifications
Microsoft IT Academy learning resources, including E-Learning and MOAC content
The Norwegian Ministry of Education and Research promotes workforce competency development through its Agency for Lifelong Learning, known as VOX, which it founded in 2001. VOX offers adult education that goes beyond basic skill instruction. It also focuses on digital competence and ICT skills in an effort to improve the age group’s employability and involvement in the education system. While the agency offers a vast range of courses, it does have more specialized programs that target certain groups such as senior citizens, prisoners, and adult immigrants. The agency also conducts research and analysis, producing reports and compiling statistical data related to the field of adult learning.
In order to stimulate national economic growth, employability, and competitiveness, the government recognizes that it must foster an environment that promotes competency and skill development amongst its citizens. To this degree, rapid advances in technology and a growing involvement in international markets have created a demand for a new type of skillset. Per its research, more than 400,000 adults in the country are considered “at risk” in terms of their employable skill levels. VOX aims to create a more valuable workforce through the promotion of basic skill instruction as well as digital and ICT training.
Because adults have different needs than younger learners, Vox established a Framework for Basic Skills for adults, emphasizing employable skills and flexibility. One such initiative, “InterAct,” promotes on-the-job problem solving through a web-based platform. The activity lasts approximately 5 weeks and targets employees who lack pre-existing ICT skills. Users log in to the website and partake in role-playing activities where they are given scripts related to a particular industry that force them to interact and make decisions with other users. Other programs, like “ABC pc,” target adults in need of basic ICT training and addresses tasks ranging from the use of the keyboard to using the Internet and email.
To cover the operational costs associated the study centers, distance learning institutions, and study associations, the agency administers governmental subsidies and offers financial support. In 2010, Vox reported that the Ministry of Education and Research spent US$ 7.9 mn on adult learning and education. ** Vox works closely with the European Commission in the development of its adult learning policies and this partnership has allowed the agency to share and learn from the experiences of its neighbors.
** Per a UNESCO report filed by VOX, the national government expenditure was 45,131 Norwegian Krone and the sub-national government expenditure was 68,736.BOX 6.3.16VOX (Norway)
"Vox in English." N.p., n.d. Web. <http://www.vox.no/global-meny/English/>.Government of Norway. Reporting Template for National Progress Reports in Preparation of the Global Report on Adult Learning and Education (GRALE) and the End of the United Nations Literacy Decade. Rep. UNESCO, 26 Apr. 2012. Web.
In 1999, Portuguese legislation established technological specialization courses (CETs) to train its adult population and provide them with the vocational qualifications necessary for employment. CETs emphasize scientific and technological knowledge, workplace-relevant skills, occupational placement, and also offer a continuation of studies. Courses typically account for 1400 hours, including one year of classroom education plus additional internships or work experience. All students must have a secondary education, though those students in their final year may enroll in CETs.
In addition to the CETs, the government also partnered with industry leaders such as Microsoft, Cisco, and Sun Microsystems to bring ICT Academies to polytechnics and universities across the country. These academies offer students the opportunity to receive professional training from professionals while completing their education. In 2006, three American universities – MIT, Carnegie Mellon, and University of Texas, Austin – partnered with the Portugal Program to add engineering systems, Internet technologies, and digital content to its curriculum.
Portugal also implemented the New Opportunities Program, which targeted adults who did not have a full education. The program offered courses at community centers and local enterprises, all of which involved some degree of ICT skill building. As part of the program, more than 200,000 laptops were distributed.
The country recognized the need for training to address the market for skilled workers. CETs were developed to address Portugal’s drop out rates as well as the high proportion of both young workers and mid-level staff lacking the qualifications necessary to succeed in the workforce. The development of the courses focused on the provision of training specific to real-world professional environments.
By 2009, Portugal boasted 119 CETs specializing in ICT-related skillsets offered in 38 institutions across 30 towns. Such courses included multimedia development, information systems installment, and computer programming.BOX 6.3.17Technological Specialization Courses (Portugal)
Vilhena Nunes Da Costa, Nilza M., Ana R. Simoes, Giselia A. Pereira, and Lucia Pombo. "Technological Specialisation Courses in Portugal: Description and Suggested Improvements." European Journal of Vocational Training 46.1 (2009): n. pag. Web. http://www.cedefop.europa.eu/etv/Upload/Information_resources/Bookshop/570/46_en_Costa.pdf
Magalhaes, Luis. "Multi-Program Approach to Foster ESkills." Proc. of WCIT, Amsterdam. UMIC Knowledge Society Agency, 26 May 2010. Web. http://www.umic.pt/images/stories/noticias/Luis_Magalhaes_WCIT.pdf
In 2003, the Hungarian Ministry of Informatics and Telecommunications established the IT Mentor Program as an answer to its national strategy, which addressed the significant digital divide within the country. The program offered digital literacy training for those disadvantaged members of society who had difficulty entering or re-entering the labor force, such as unemployed and disabled citizens and those citizens over age 45.
After receiving formal certification, the mentors of the program served as social workers, providing training and consultation services as they related to e-knowledge. Such training incorporated basic digital literacy skills as well as awareness; mentors instructed participants not only on basic computer functions but also promoted an understanding of the advantages of such online features as e-Government services and job searches. Beyond addressing the digital divide, the program in essence also created “local champions” and strengthened the role of IT trainers in the workforce by offering them government accreditation and support.
The program recognized that these members of society did not have the same access to the digital information and its benefits that could otherwise advance the country’s economy as other groups in society. By creating equal opportunities to bridge the digital divide, the program promoted societal and economical development and modernization. As a public policy, the IT Mentor Program received its funding from the government and was managed by the former Ministry of Informatics and Telecommunications.
By 2006, more than 5,000 IT mentors across the country worked with citizens at 20 locations, typically community computer and Internet access points. By encouraging digital literacy training and awareness of the capabilities of the Internet while also providing public access points, Hungary’s IT Mentor Program addressed the three pillars of demand stimulation: awareness, affordability, and attractiveness.
As a result of the program, “IT Mentor” became an official profession in the country, allowing employers to search specifically for potential hires with this skill set. In anticipation, an IT Mentor university certification program was established, training 300 mentors in the first year. Since then, various government projects – such as the implementation of an online tax filing system – have formally incorporated IT Mentors to promote citizen awareness and serve as troubleshooters.BOX 3.6.18IT Mentor Program (Hungary)
OECD E-government Studies: Hungary. Paris: OECD, 2007.
E-Inclusion Public Policies in Europe. Rep. European Commission, 2009. Web. http://ec.europa.eu/information_society/activities/einclusion/library/studies/einclusion_policies_in_europe/index_en.htm
In November 2011, Sri Lanka’s Ministry of Telecommunication and Information Technology and the Hambonthota district inaugurated the country’s national ICT initiative, the e-Diriya program. E-Diriya targets Samurdhi (welfare) recipients, many of whom have never before touched a computer. The initiative aims not only to create more than 50,000 computer literate citizens and enhance ICT infrastructure, but also to raise ICT awareness.
The program’s four-hour training workshops – which are held in public schools and IT centers across 19 districts - teach basic computer skills to participants with no prior knowledge of computers or the Internet. All centers come equipped with computers and Internet connections. The second-longest segment, which lasts 70 minutes, covers word processing software, functions, formatting, and outputs. The longest segment, which lasts 90 minutes, deals strictly with Internet and email, emphasizing the benefits of the Internet, the components required for a connection, and how to utilize a web browser and email address. The other two segments include a basic introduction to ICT and a “getting started” portion that acquaints participants with the hardware, software, and operating system of a computer.
Following completion of the workshop, participants are better prepared to enter the global e- community. As part of the e-Sri Lanka Initiative, e-Diriya uses ICT to “develop the economy of Sri Lanka, reduce poverty, and improve the quality of life of the people.” The program aims to reduce the digital divide, thereby creating an equal distribution of opportunity and information.
The Information and Communication Technology Agency (ICTA) manages e-Diriya with the full support of the Sri Lanka Samurdhi Authority and the Ministry of Education. The government fully funds the Samurdhi Program, which covers approximately one-third of Sri Lanka’s population, or 1.2 million families. The program encourages poverty reduction by providing disadvantaged groups with training, decision-making activities, and employment opportunities. While the ICTA lists its financials in its 2010 Annual Report (the most recent report released), it does not include a breakdown of expenditures by project.
Following its November inception, e-Diriya saw 50,000 participants in December 2011 alone, including 23,000 women in the Samurdhi Program.BOX 3.6.19e-Diriya Program (Sri Lanka)
Yapa, Seu. "Digital Literacy for 23,000 Rural Sri Lankan Women." Telecentre.org Foundation. N.p., 2 July 2012. Web. http://community.telecentre.org/profiles/blogs/digitalwomen
"‘e-Diriya’ the National ICT Literacy Initiative Officially Inaugurated in Kegalle." ICTA. N.p., 25 Nov. 2011. Web. nationaltomorrow.html
"ESri Lanka." ICTA, n.d. Web. http://www.icta.lk/en/e-sri-lanka.html
"Sri Lanka Case Study Samurdhi Program." Community-based Food and Nutrition Programmes. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, 2003. Web. http://www.fao.org/docrep/006/Y5030E/y5030e17.htm
In 2008, 200,000 Colombians completed the European Computer Driving License (ECDL) Foundation’s global computer literacy survey, as administered by ICDL Colombia. Analysis of the survey demonstrated the large social and economic divide between Colombians with ICT access and understanding and those citizens who lacked ICT exposure. In response to these findings, the Colombian Ministry for Information and Communications Technology (MITIC) and the National Learning Service (SENA) partnered with ICDL Colombia to increase digital literacy and encourage use of online services such as e-government and banking amongst marginalized sectors of the population. This partnership led to the creation of the e-Ciudadano project.
The project expects to provide 75,000 Colombians with basic ICT training and falls under the Colombian national ICT plan Vive Digital, which aims to connect all citizens to the Internet by 2019. Following the training, participants take a certification exam, which serves as quantifiable evidence of their skills as well as the success of the program. E-Ciudadano established 88 testing centers throughout Bogota’s two main urban areas and training was available at facilities where the target group typically congregated, such as public libraries and community centers. The program also featured e-learning courses so that citizens could also participate online.
Implementation of the project was divided into three parts. The first two parts focused heavily on marketing e-Ciudadano; part one addressed participant recruitment while the second worked toward the utilization pre-existing public and private infrastructure to deliver the training. The campaign initially targeted organizations via mail correspondence and phone conversations, at which point senior-level members were directed to www.e- ciudadano.org.co, the website created to serve as a central administrative hub. The last phase of the project examined the candidate certification process.
The training portion of the e-Ciudadano program was provided at no cost to all participants and the first 25,000 candidates took the certification exam free of charge. These costs were covered in part by the Colombian government and also through the support of Fundación Telefónica, Telefónica’s branch responsible for promoting educational, social, and cultural growth through increased access to ICTs. The ECDL Foundation and Webscience A.I., an automated test developer, provided funding for the management and maintenance of the testing centers while volunteers conducted the training.
Initial analysis of the e-Ciudadano program demonstrated that successful candidates displayed an increased awareness of the benefits of the Internet access, with many seeking additional ICT training upon completion of the course. Further, participants demonstrated higher confidence and reported less social exclusion than many of their peers in the same social group.BOX 6.3.20e-Ciudadano (Colombia)
"Colombian E-Citizen." ECDL, n.d. Web. http://www.ecdl.org/media/eciudadano_Colombia1.pdf
"Colombian E-Citizen - Bringing Access to Technology and ICT Skills to All Colombians." ECDL Foundation, n.d. Web.
Digital literacy for women
Digital divide based on gender differences has been studied in the emerging world with a varying set of evidence about its level of importance. While explanatory variables of this situation tend to be focused on socio-economic and occupational factors, digital literacy programs with a women focus could act as a contributor to addressing some of the gender barriers.
Most of the digital literacy programs targeted to women have as primary objectives, reduce the digital divide, promote social inclusion and improve the employability profile of women. Alternatively, the program can be focused on educating homemakers (married women no in the labor force) under the assumption that, as principal decision maker regarding household finances, the path to broadband adoption in the home is led through women. Such as the case of the Ten Million People Internet Education project in Korea.
According to Hilding-Hamann et al. (2009), there is no consistent content structure of women digital literacy programs: some involve standard computer courses while others entail courses tailored to specific users’ needs. This lack of standardization of program content is because it is common to find users in this group that have strong skills in very narrow ICT areas (e.g. social networking, text messaging), while being weak in others (e.g. conducting Internet queries). In fact, it is very common to find situations where the household already has a computer and broadband access, but due to limited digital literacy on the part of women, the technology is only accessible to the children or their father.
In general, the target of digital literacy programs focused on women comprises the unemployed, low income, low schooling, at home with small or ill children, living in settlements, belonging to marginalized ethnic groups, and the elderly. In many cases, the pressure to be included in the digital society is increasing for mothers of children in school since teaching institutions often use broadband for communicating with parents.
The following best practices in this kind of programs have been identified:
All instructors should be females with experience in teaching computer skills; students appreciate the notion of “women teaching women”, addressing not only a skills gap but providing a remedy to unequal opportunities in the workplace
Additionally, the instructors could be unemployed women with prior computer experience; as a result, the program could also become a vehicle for reintegrating unemployed women in the workforce
Include a mentoring process in the program, which is based on younger peers or attendees to prior sessions
Advertise programs in order to promote enrollment at places such as nurseries, schools, playgrounds, and markets
Alternatively, kindergartens and schools could become places for recruiting program participants
Provide flexibility in course delivery to allow for occasional absences
Structure lessons as “learner-centric” rather than “curriculum-centric”, building the program around what attendees say they want to learn (e.g. use online search of job opportunities)
Consider partnering in delivery of the program with associations or non-governmental organizations focused on advancing women welfare and/or enhancing the social inclusion of women by means of technology
If focusing on women belonging to a specific ethnic group, tailor the material to be delivered in suitable language, and customize it to the cultural idiosyncrasies of the targeted group
In some cases, it could be very productive to involve the whole family in learning ICT skills in order to motivate mothers to participate
Partnering with the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and its 192 Member States and 700 Sector Members, the Telecentre.org Foundation announced in April 2011 the commencement of its global Women’s Digital Literacy Campaign. The Philippines-based NGO will utilize its 100,000 worldwide telecenters to provide one million disadvantaged women with basic ICT training by the end of 2012. Over 300 organizations and 200,000 individuals power the telecenters. The program addresses two types of women: a) the women who will gain employment serving as trainers and managers at the telecenters and b) the women who lack formal education and literacy and will benefit from basic ICT skills.
According to the United Nations, 60% of women in developing countries serve as unpaid workers in their family homes. This program asserts that basic digital literacy will connect women to the technological revolution, offering the opportunity to participate in the global economy. Female agricultural workers, for instance, can use new technology to find market information and better gauge the prices they charge for their products and pay for supplies. Women who stay at home with their children can utilize the Internet to become “homepreneurs” or find Internet-based income opportunities. Per ITU Secretary-General Dr. Hamadoun Touré, “With technology now widely recognized as a critical enabler for socio- economic development, this campaign will further reinforce ITU’s global efforts to promote the digital inclusion of women, and will be a key element in achieving Millennium Development Goal 3 on gender equality.”
The total budget for the campaign is US$ 149 mn. The largest expenditure comes from the US$ 110 mn investment in the development of community ICT centers. Facility rentals will cost an additional US$ 12.5 mn and trainers’ salaries will total US$ 25 mn. Project management and the creation of training materials will account for the remaining US$ 1.5 mn.
The ITU and the Telecentre.org Foundation will encourage national governments, private corporations, and international organizations to contribute to the campaign by offering the telecenters such resources as digital curricula in local languages and trainers. The ITU’s Telecommunication Development Bureau (BDT) will also supply digital literacy training materials and curricula, much of which was developed for use in community centers and telecenters. The ITU will also offer its distance-learning platform. Trainers receive training through the telecentre.org Foundation network, offered at academies, universities, and other training centers. To ensure quality standards, the Foundation will monitor all training and track progress on a joint ITU-telecenter.org website.
By September 2012, the telecentre.org website reported that the program had trained 384,062 women, though countless additional women have likely benefitted from the campaign. The program is built on the “Train the Trainer” model, which encourages participants to then train their peers.BOX 3.6.21Telecentre Women: Digital Literacy Campaign (global)
"ITU Launches Global Digital Literacy Campaign for Women." Newsroom. International Telecommunication Union, 7 Apr. 2011. Web. http://www.itu.int/net/pressoffice/press_releases/2011/08.aspx
"Telecentre Women: Digital Literacy Campaign." Telecentre.org Foundation, n.d. Web. http://women.telecentre.org/wp-content/uploads/Campaign-Brief.pdf
Between 1998 and 2000, the Malaysian grassroots organization “Mothers for Mothers” held six conferences, all of which featured the stories of successful women “homepreneurs.” The events allowed like-minded women to network and pool resources, sharing their experiences with home-based work.
As the demand for additional conferences continued to grow, a small group of volunteers created the “mom4mom.com” website to provide mothers and homemakers with the platform to network and access information without attending the physical conferences. Unfortunately, many women in the country did not have access to computers and Internet. Even amongst those women who did have access, few possessed the technological savvy to access the portal and employ the Internet’s benefits productively in their work. Without this access, women faced even fewer employment opportunities than their male counterparts.
In response, Mothers for Mothers submitted a proposal in 2001 for the eHomemakers grassroots community to the Ministry of Science, Technology, and Environment. The ministry subsequently awarded the organization with the Demonstrator Application Grant (DAG). With this funding, mom4mom.com evolved into the website ehomemakers.net, which links homeworkers into an e-community and, at the time, employed more than 60 full- time workers at its virtual office.
Among other services, the website offers interactive tools and chat rooms. More than 7,000 members receive its monthly e-newsletters. eHomemakers has evolved into an e-network connecting more than 15,000 Malaysian women that promotes the use of ICT such as mobile phones, the Internet, and the Distributed Work Management Application (DWMA) web-to- hand platform. DWMA relies on ADSL, Internet access, and mobile SMS to connect the women to the larger network. With this technology, the women can then participate in the economy as homeworkers, tele-workers, or business owners. Members of the community also receive – and assist in – the training, mentorship, and counseling that encourages self- sufficiency. The majority of members is located in urban areas and is in the 30 – 50 year age range and has grown to include grandmothers, unmarried women, and even some men who work from home.
While the Malaysian government provided the initial funding through the one-year DAG grant, eHomemakers has generated additional revenue through advertisements on the website and consultancy fees and private contributions have come from corporate sponsorships and member donations. As a social enterprise, it supports itself by providing services for a social purpose.BOX 6.3.22e-Homemakers (Malaysia)
"Welcome to EHomemakers." EHomemakers. N.p., n.d. Web. http://www.ehomemakers.net/en/index.php
Chong, Sheau C., and Audrey Desiderato. "Empowering Women through Home-Based Income-earning Opportunities in Malaysia." Poverty Reduction That Works: Experience of Scaling up Development Success. By Paul Steele, Neil Fernando, and Maneka Veddikkara. London: Earthscan, 2008. N. pag. Print.
At DigiGirlz Day, a one-day conference held at multiple locations around the world, high school girls interact with Microsoft employees to learn about the technology industry. Girls also receive career planning assistance and information about technology positions and attend Microsoft product demonstrations. In its mission to encourage girls to consider working in the industry, DigiGirls also hosts its High Tech Camps, offering girls a glimpse into the high- tech product development process. Beyond the conferences and camps, the program also offers online courses with instruction on how to build websites with HTML or create podcasts.
In April 2009, Microsoft partnered with the UAE Ministry of Education and the Center for Women and Technology for the Arab Region (CWTAR) to host the Gulf Region’s first ever DigiGirlz Day at Dubai Women’s College. 200 girls from 25 Dubai high schools attended the event, where they each participated in one of five product workshops: Microsoft Research AutoCollage, Windows Movie Maker, Windows LiveTM, PopFlyTM, blogging, and Microsoft Expression® Web. Many of the girls admitted that they rarely used computers, and that the program raised their awareness of computer-based services and technology-related career opportunities.
The girls all had the option to take the Microsoft Digital Literacy Certificate Test at one of 10 proctored testing stations. 30 questions covering basic computing skills comprised the exam, and those girls who passed it received a Microsoft Digital Literacy Certificate. Of the 200 girls in attendance, 50 took the exam but very few scored high enough to receive the certificate.
Following the success of DigiGirlz Days Dubai, Microsoft planned an additional five conferences throughout the region. The low scores on the certification exam signaled a lack of quality digital literacy education, and in response, Microsoft included testing stations at future DigiGirlz Days events.BOX 6.3.23DigiGirlz Day (United Arab Emirates)
"DigiGirlz Day." Microsoft, n.d. Web. http://www.microsoft.com/enus/diversity/programs/digigirlz/digigirlzday.aspx
Microsoft. Microsoft Learning. Microsoft Digital Literacy Inspires High School Girls at DigiGirlz Dubai. N.p., May 2009. Web. http://www.microsoft.com/casestudies/Microsoft-Learning/Dubai-DigiGirlz-Day/Microsoft-Digital-Literacy-Inspires-High-School-Girls-at-DigiGirlz-Dubai/4000004417
Digital literacy programs in rural isolated areas
Programs focused on rural isolated areas represent a particular case of the examples presented above. As such, they address the complexities of delivering training in underserved regions of a country. The primary foci of these programs is bridging the digital divide and enhancing the employability profile of the targeted population. In this case, the initiatives tend to be large scale and centrally managed and focus on accessibility. While the central government plays a prominent role in program management, it is not unusual to find private sector participants or NGOs.
In many countries, the rural population faces multiple disadvantages over its urban counterparts: higher unemployment rates and fewer employment opportunities, lower literacy rates, and a larger proportion of citizens living below the poverty line. To make matters more complicated, these regions have been traditionally underserved in terms of ICT and reflect lower broadband penetration rates. At the same time, broadband connections could potentially reduce these disparities and the digital divide. Unlike voice services, it has become increasingly less expensive to communicate and stay in touch over broadband as well.
Connectivity offers access to services that may otherwise be inaccessible due to geographical limitations, opening the opportunity to such tools as e-health, e- government, and e-education. Further, it allows residents to stay connected with friends and family and informed of current events. Connectivity also means more employment opportunity, offering the means for citizens to search for and apply to jobs.
Without a perfunctory knowledge of how to use computers and broadband, however, the advantages of these tools are lost. While government involvement may spur the development of infrastructure in many instances – particularly as the private sector sees less financial incentive to invest in areas with more geographical barriers and less disposable income – successful rural training programs many times require assistance from corporations or organizations. The corporations can offer financial support and the benefit of experience, while grassroots organizations may have more success in engaging the people.
As many rural communities may not “be commercially viable on their own,” broadband access can afford the utilization of a variety of tools to promote development and sustainability. Rural farmers, for instance, can access weather reports and market information while utilizing agriculture software to improve their business production. Similar examples have been seen for fishermen, basket weavers, health care workers, and the like.
Access is key, as this population cannot easily utilize the physical resources found in urban areas. To this degree, successful programs have:
Offered online training
Built local access centers or cybercafés in areas with limited ICT
Implemented initiatives in public schools or safe houses
Partnered with local governments
Deployed trainers to rural areas
Rural broadband training programs bridge the digital divide, ultimately reducing the disparities between the urban-rural populations.
The Intel Easy Steps Program offers basic digital literacy training to adults with very little computer exposure. Topics focus on everyday computer use, from Internet searches to word processing to email. As a result, participants leave the program with the necessary skillset to communicate with friends and family and also to research and apply for jobs, draft resumes, and create presentations. With an increasing number of positions requiring ICT skills, this knowledge increases citizens’ employability and self-sufficiency while enhancing the country’s economic competitiveness in the international market.
Intel provides the program free of charge to governments and NGOs, which then implement it on a local basis. In November 2010, at the 6th Knowledge Exchange Conference on Community eCenters in the Philippines, the country’s Commission on Information and Communications Technology (CICT) signed a memorandum of understanding with Intel Microelectronics Philippines to deploy the initiative. This agreement followed Intel’s push to address the lack of digital literacy of the region’s government employees and adults in rural communities.
Instruction is offered in a variety of environments, from vocational training centers, to shared-access centers, to the workplace. Intel identified 1,000 community eCenters across the country to host the training and the program considered additional locations for new centers. The small countryside town of Tanuan, for instance, partnered with Intel to create its Community e-Center (CeC), using the Easy Steps program to bring basic digital literacy instruction to its citizens. The manager of the center reported that, since the program’s inception, the town saw a rise in the number digitally literate farmers, fishermen, and health workers.
For those citizens unable to attend a workshop in person, Intel Philippines now offers practical digital literacy training through 10 Intel Easy Steps Facebook applications. Each application simulates a real world situation – such as the behavior of a word processor or spreadsheet – allowing users to create such products as resumes and budget plans via the social media website. They can then post their progress as a status message to track accomplishments and share with friends.
The country’s Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) – responsible for the vocational programs in thousands of institutions across the country - partnered with Intel to expand the reach of the program and improve the digital literacy skills of its students. By December 2011, TESDA trainers worked with a total of 3,300 grassroots users hailing from 17 regional training centers.Intel Easy Steps Program (Philippines)BOX 6.3.24Intel Easy Steps Program (Philippines)
"Intel Easy Steps Program." Intel. N.p., n.d. Web. http://www3.intel.com/cd/corporate/csr/apac/eng/inclusion/steps/466382.htm
"News From the Field." Intel Easy Steps Program. FIT-ED, 2012. Web. http://www.fit-ed.org/easysteps/news.php?type=1
In late 2009, Grameenphone - Bangladesh’s largest mobile operator – partnered with Microsoft to implement a digital literacy program developed specifically for the country’s rural students. As a joint venture between international telecommunications provider Telenor and the non-profit Grameen Telecom Corporation, which is affiliated with the micro-finance pioneer Grameen Bank, Grameenphone has a history of promoting affordable telecom services throughout the country.
This partnership took Microsoft’s well-established international digital literacy curriculum and first reproduced it in Bengali and then targeted the country’s rural students, unemployed youth, and women. The module focuses on basic IT skills such as Internet access, applications to increase workplace productivity, and computer security. Beyond coursework and training, the program also offers related resources for further learning and self- assessment exercises. Each section concludes with an examination, and students who successfully pass receive a certificate.
Citizens can access the curriculum through other Grameenphone projects such as school cyclone shelters, Information Boats, and education institutions as well as through the more than 500 authorized Grameenphone Community Information Centers (GPCICs). Since 2006, GPCICs have provided the rural population of Bangladesh with access to Internet, voice, and video conferencing services. Each center houses at least a computer, a printer, a scanner, a web cam, and an EDGE-enabled modem that allows for Internet connections. While the centers receive technical support from the GSM Association, local entrepreneurs manage and run them like small businesses. Grameenphone provides these managers with training and support.
The vast majority of the country lives in rural areas; by targeting this sector and providing them with ITC access, the program effectively reduces the geographical digital divide. In turn, the GPCICs aim to alleviate poverty, bring education to the underprivileged, create employment opportunities for the youth, and promote local entrepreneurship. Grameen has worked with many international corporations, organizations, and multilaterals in support of this mission. Microsoft provides citizens with the digital literacy curriculum and the examination free of charge. In the partnership, Grameen is the licensee, Microsoft the licensor, and the GPCICs and other Grameen centers the authorized centers.BOX 6.3.25Grameenphone Community Information Centers (Bangladesh)
"Grameenphone - Microsoft Digital Literacy Programme." Telenor. N.p., 16 Apr. 2012. Web. microsoftprogramme/
"About Us." GPCIC: Grameenphone Community Information Center. N.p., 2007. Web. http://www.gpcic.org/index.php?main=0
"Grameenphone Partners with Microsoft." Grameenphone. N.p., 4 Nov. 2009. Web. http://www.grameenphone.com/about-us/media-center/press-release/2009/239/about-us/career
In 2010, Tamil Nadu’s Ministry of Information Technology commenced its digital literacy program targeting the state’s rural population. The program – a partnership between Ford Business Services and Rotary International – provides beneficiary institutions with the hardware and software necessary to provide digital literacy training.
Through the alliance, Ford Business Services - a subsidiary of US-owned Ford Motor Company - initially donated 150 computers to 11 partner groups. The groups included organizations that focused on women empowerment, underprivileged youth, and rural communities as well as vocational training institutions. Computer novices can now access the 20-hour training online through any of the participating institutions. The curriculum includes six modules and uses the digital literacy CD “Know It,” designed to train citizens in basic computer functions, such as the use of the Microsoft suite, Internet, and email. Users interact with the CD’s step-by-step online teaching tool that also offers practice quizzes and activities. All software was locally developed with rural users in mind.
The State of Tamil Nadu has demonstrated a commitment to enhancing ICT access and understanding throughout the region, recognizing the potential for this technology to bridge the digital divide. Prior to this initiative, it had already created an IT plan and an e-waste policy while investigating ways to increase e-government services. While Tamil Nadu is one of India’s most urbanized states, its rural village population is marked by lower levels of literacy and fewer employment opportunities, both of which affect economic development in the region.
Since the program’s inception, Ford has donated more than 700 computers and connected with nearly 10,000 people in the state. In September 2012, Ford India inaugurated the Ford- Rotary Digital Literacy Center. The center provides the underprivileged population with the computer literacy training necessary to enhance their employment options. The center offers multiple courses throughout the day, instructing participants on basic computer use.BOX 6.3.26Ford-Rotary Digital Literacy Program (India)
"Digital Literacy Programme to Empower Rural Population." The Hindu. N.p., 17 Aug. 2010. Web. http://www.hindu.com/2010/08/17/stories/2010081754270400.htm
"Ford-Rotary Partnership Helps Bridge Digital Divide in India." @FordOnline. N.p., 8 Oct. 2012. Web. http://www.at.ford.com/news/TeamContent/Pages/GFTCFord-Rotary-Partnership-Helps-Bridge-Digital-Divide-in-India.aspx
India. Tamil Nadu. 11. Rural Development. N.p., n.d. Web. http://www.tn.gov.in/dear/11.%20Rural%20Development.pdf
Digital literacy for persons with disabilities
Recent literature has highlighted the need to deploy digital literacy programs targeted to persons with disabilities (e.g. visually impaired, hearing impaired, etc.). Most of these programs respond to the need of improving the quality of life and promoting social inclusion of the disabled population. Their focus is to build broadband and Internet usage capabilities. Courses are tailored to the specific needs of the disadvantaged population.
While most of these programs are implemented at the national scale, it is not uncommon to observe the participation of non-government organizations (e.g. interest groups, community organizations) as program stakeholders. Their participation is structured around partnerships with public agencies. The advantage of including these types of organizations in the structuring and delivery of digital literacy programs is that they tend to have a better understanding of the needs of the group being targeted.
While most programs of this type have been deployed in the industrialized world (Hilding-Hamann et al. (2009) surveyed 95 such programs in their review of EU initiatives), the examples provided below are used to demonstrate the benefits of extending these initiatives in emerging countries.
Among the best practices in the deployment of digital literacy for persons with disabilities, the following have been highlighted:
Organize the digital literacy programs in centers already focused in helping disabled citizens
If physical facilities focused on the disabled do not pre-exist, ensure that new centers are handicap friendly, equipped with special tables, with plenty of room allowed for wheel chairs. Computer should also be designed to fit the needs of the disabled
From an equipment perspective, special customized hardware should include voice output devices, special large-surface keyboards, trackballs, voice activated devices, etc.
The centers and digital literacy training should be opened to people with all kinds of disabilities: physical, psychosocial, hearing impaired, cognitive difficulties like dyspraxia, dyslexia, dysorthography, intellectual disabilities, etc.
Training should be adapted to each disabled situation, resulting in the development of special training materials
However, start-up training modules should include internet access, word processing, spreadsheet usage, e-mailing, digital presentations, information search, and web-banking
Try to enroll professionals trained to work with people with disabilities (e.g. special needs teachers, occupational therapists, social workers, etc.); these professionals should be trained to deliver ICT literacy programs
Be prepared to handle individualized coaching
Consider distributing used computers donated by private companies that participants could take for use in their homes and workplaces
While computers are provided free of charge, consider charging a nominal fee for course attendance to create an incentive for ongoing participation
Conduct on-going monitoring of the latest development of technologies to support people with disabilities
Structure a feedback mechanism, where participants fill out feedback forms to improve training and adapt it to the needs of attendees; this could be complemented with random follow-up calls to former participants
Consider organizing a placement function to help participants find jobs; the placement function could organize a portal to link up with companies interesting in providing employment opportunities to disabled individuals
Funding could be organized with contributions from the private sector (a telecommunications company provides broadband access, a software company provides the training modules, one-time contribution for hardware acquisition) and the educational system (universities could supply technical support and pro bono training staff); this could allow programs to be set up without any dependence upon government funding
6.3.2 Community Access Centers
Deployment of community access centers can assume different forms. In some cases, broadband access centers are installed in existing facilities as a complement of activities already performed at those locations (e.g. public libraries). Other practices point to the creation of stand-alone access centers exclusively focused in providing free access to broadband services.
This section will review the different options, paid or free, for providing broadband access. The objective is to enhance Internet access in contexts where affordability represents an insurmountable barrier to adoption.
22.214.171.124 Types of Shared or Community Access Centers
Digital Community Centers
Digital community centers represent the most common approach to providing public access to broadband, while organizing technology awareness and education programs. The deployment of community centers combines a top-down and bottom-up governance framework, whereby a public policy initiative triggers the involvement of communities in the management of each unit. The sum of grass-root community organizations dedicated to managing each center is coordinated by a steering committee, who works with each center to develop plans for extending broadband service, and providing technology awareness and training programs. In some cases, the steering committee works with a dedicated staff that acts as a resource. In that sense, the central dedicated staff becomes an enabler of the community-based effort rather than an implementer.
By virtue of their decentralized governance framework, centers become independent from contributions of the national government, with all funding support being provided by either local governments or the private sector. This structure appears to be also scalable across regions of a given country.
Digital Community Centers have become highly suited to tackle technology and economic development programs within rural contexts.
The following best practices have identified in this domain:
Establish a permanent channel of communication between the community and the managers of the community access center, involving the community directly and encouraging to take ownership of the activities of the center
Community involvement could entail nominating local technology champions, who assemble community support, lead technology needs assessment and planning efforts, and work to introduce technology initiatives to meet community needs
Construct digital community centers as a technology and entrepreneurship hubs within communities; as such, the centers provide free broadband access to the public, and, at the same time, a variety of fee-based business and technology services to local non-profits and businesses
Among the entrepreneurship services that the digital centers can provide are employee training, modern office space, technology expertise and business consulting
Put in place a full technical service team that ensures that all equipment is always working properly
Besides hosting IT courses and provide access, make sure that the center functions as venues where people can meet and enjoy other cultural activities and entertainment
In terms of advertising and promotional activities, the center should post monthly newsletters on its website, addressing issues for small businesses, such as fundraising opportunities, or dealing with foreign worker authorization permits
Consider outsourcing some of the center functions
As part of the Brazilian Ministry of Culture’s larger program, Cultura Viva, the Pontos de Cultura initiative is a socio-digital inclusion program that develops public digital spaces throughout the country to encourage citizens to create digital culture. By providing citizens with free, open-source software and broadband access at these telecenters, the initiative promotes technology as a tool to spur the spread and creation of digital culture, thereby affirming Brazil’s cultural identity.
Individual communities take charge of their ponto’s financial matters, managing the center autonomously, although they all have access to a network over which they can work together to share ideas and problem solve. The pontos have the potential to generate income for these communities, which can customize the services of the centers to fit the needs of their residents. Once the Ministry of Culture deems it an official Ponto de Cultura, the center receives a digital multimedia kit, which guarantees users broadband access so that they can share their work. It also includes a multimedia studio complete with professional-grade audio, video, software development, text, and imaging technology. Equipe Cultura Digital and local grassroots organizations offer training on how to use these tools and also on the benefits of broadband in transmitting their ideas.
As part of the program, the Cultura Digitale Equipe (digital culture team) hosts workshops that focus on educating the community on how to use new technology to best suit their needs. The pontos de cultura receive a monthly stipend of €1000 for the first two years, at which point they should sustain themselves. The GESAC Program of the Ministry of Communications provides this funding as part of the aforementioned media kit.
While the centers are run autonomously and funding lasts for two years, the pontos must continually report their progress to the Ministry of Culture to ensure that they stay on track and align with the Ministry’s overall mission of promoting digital culture. The program has faced criticism for not establishing qualitative indicators by which to judge its efficacy. There are currently 1,000 pontos de cultura throughout the country, but the government plans on building an additional 9,000 within the next two years.BOX 6.3.32Pontos de Cultura (Brazil)
Bria, Francesca, and Oriana Persica. "Synergies between Pontos De Cultura and Ecosystems." Digital Ecosystems. By Matilde Ferraro. N.p.: n.p., n.d. 4.5.1-.5.8. Web.
http://www.digital-ecosystems.org/book/pdf/4.6.pdf"Ministério Da Cultura." Study Tour Brazil. N.p., n.d. Web. http://studytourbrazil.wordpress.com/rio-de-janeiro-2/ministerio-da-cultura/
Venezuela’s Puntos de Acceso program marked the country’s first step toward the provision of universal telecom services. Each punto de acceso provides citizens with access to ICT services and training, which focuses on building ICT skills that enhance users’ educational, cultural, and economic activities while encouraging information exchange and increased communication. Each center is designed with the needs of various members of the community in mind – from workers, to students, to professionals – and also makes provisions for the people with handicaps or special needs.
Universal access is expected to decrease the social divide by allowing all citizens – regardless of their geographical location on socio-economic situation – equal access to information and telecommunications. To do so, the plan must work to provide the necessary infrastructure while also incorporating the proper training and education as it relates to ICT. The Puntos de Acceso project specifically aims to bring fixed-line and Internet services to the general public while ensuring that proper training accompanies these services. Proper training, the plan follows, will allow citizens to use ICT effectively and ultimately increase productivity and improve their quality of life.
Per the Venezuelan regulator, CONATEL, the sectors of the population who do not have access to ICT services also tend to suffer from social exclusion, economic insufficiency, and a lack of basic essentials like food, shelter, and education. These struggles manifest in high unemployment rates, lack of infrastructure and public services, and sanitary deficiencies. The population groups most likely to face these issues include ethnic minorities, handicapped persons, the elderly, and communities in disaster zones or geographically isolated regions. CONATEL sees the Puntos de Acceso project as a means to providing telecom access to these groups.
In order to ensure that the disadvantaged members of society realize the maximum potential of increased ICT access, the project offers ICT training and technical qualification courses. Workshops and seminars are available to teachers and professors, who can in turn share this instruction with their students.
Prior to implementation, the project first examined the demographics of the country as well as its existing ICT infrastructure, electricity supply, and potential demand. The Puntos de Acceso initiative then targeted four states within the country based on these factors, strategically choosing locations equidistant from areas void of ICT services.
The proposal for the project does not list costs specifically, as the cost of the infrastructure and operation vary by operator. Per the Telecommunication Statutory Law (LOTEL), the country’s Universal Service Fund will subsidize the project’s infrastructure expenditures while promoting market competition. The law requires telecom operators doing business in the country to contribute 1% of their gross income to the fund in order to finances these costs. The fund, established in 2000, serves to “offer minimum penetration, access, quality, and economic accessibility standards, regardless of geographical location” throughout Venezuela. CONATEL sets the standards for quality and technical requirements. Venezuelan legislation considers Internet access a necessary factor for development.
To fulfill the obligations of the Universal Service project, Puntos de Acceso addresses: international standards, functionality, scalability, adaptability, and facility of administration. Each punto must provide a two-way traffic IP to assure accessibility. For the purpose of the project, CONATEL made available the following frequency bands: 2300–2400MHz, 5725– 5850MHz, 10,27–10,30GHz, and 10,62–10,65GHz. The program also makes provisions for a Social Management Program (SMP) to serve as a methodological tool to stimulate new projects and oversee qualitative evaluation.BOX 6.3.33Puntos de Acceso (Venezuela)
Puntos De Acceso: First Telecommunications Universal Services Obligation in Venezuela. Rep. CONATEL, n.d. Web.
In October 2010, Argentina’s president Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner announced a five- year plan – and an initial investment of US$ 1.7 bn – for its “Plan Nacional de Telecomunicacion,” also known as “Argentina Conectada.” Backed by public investment, the plan covers the deployment of necessary equipment, infrastructure, and services to provide ICT equipment and training to public school students, extend connectivity to remote areas, and establish public access ICT centers. Through this initiative, the government dictates the promotion of broadband growth and the equitable distribution of such services.
The first phase of Argentina Conectada deployed 28 knowledge access centers – known as Nucleos de Acceso al Conocimiento, or NACs – in public areas throughout the country. Each NAC provides ICT access and training as well as entertainment and cultural applications. The training increases skill development while promoting engagement in community affairs. Through the NACs, users have access to WiFi Internet, personal computers, audio-visual equipment, and gaming consoles. The plan developed the NACs not only to provide Internet access, but also to promote e-inclusion and community participation. They offer educational tools and technology and serve as a point of contact between citizens and their government. Once this first phase of Argentina Conectada reaches completion, the country will see a total of 250 NACs.
By the end of 2010, the total number of broadband connections in the country rose to 5.22 million, up from 4.26 million one year prior. Residential connections accounted for 4.51 million of the connections while business broadband connections contributed an additional 715,955. In 2012, Argentina now boasts one of the most developed broadband markets in the region coupled with some of the fastest and least expensive plans.BOX 6.3.34Argentina Conectada (Argentina)
"Argentina Govt Deploys 28 Knowledge Access Centers." Telecompaper. N.p., 2 Aug. 2012. Web. http://www.telecompaper.com/news/argentina-govt-deploys-28-knowledge-access-centers
"Nucleos De Acceso Al Conocimiento." Argentina Conectada. N.p., n.d. Web. http://www.argentinaconectada.gob.ar/contenidos/nucleos_de_acceso_al_conocimiento.html
In 2009, the satellite provider Thaicom launched its Kids Thaicom Project, donating satellite dish televisions throughout schools in Thailand’s remote regions. Deemed an example of “innovative corporate social responsibility,” the program not only focuses on the provision of the equipment, but on fostering an understanding of the benefits of technology amongst the country’s students by connecting them with worldwide mentors, teachers, and leaders. As the president of the corporation explained to the children, “They are tools for you too. Not just city kids with money.”
Prior to the project, Thailand identified 10,000 rural schools with an inadequate teacher : student ratio. By virtue of their location, these schools did not have the means to benefit from the technological advances of the 21st century and its resources. Thaicom then selected 999 schools based on the below criteria, per its website:
- Elementary or secondary school with at least 80-100 students
- Ratio of students per teacher of 20 to 1
- Located in the remote areas and far from the city center
- Does not have a satellite dish to receive educational programs
The participating schools each received a Thaicom satellite dish, DTV receiver, and a TV. The equipment was installed by both providers hired by Thaicom and by the corporation’s more than 300 volunteers who donated their time to work with the schools. Thaicom also covered the connection costs and offered ongoing training and technical support as needed. Once connected, the schools could access the Internet and educational programs, while having the freedom to incorporate the technology into the curriculum as they saw fit.
Within a year and a half of the project’s implementation, the project had connected more than 759 schools. By mid-2011, Thaicom expanded the program to use the connected schools as “sustainable knowledge centers,” utilizing the tools to develop vocational training and small businesses in rural areas. The project recognized that providing the schools with the technology not only improved the education of the students, but also raised community awareness of its benefits.
The project selected 2 of the schools to serve as sustainable knowledge center pilot schools, encouraging the school directors, teachers, and community leaders to work together to develop a digital community most relevant to local needs. One of the schools, for instance, considered incorporating such topics as herb processing and mushroom growing. The involvement of local volunteers and Thaicom employees is credited with the program’s success, creating a sense of pride amongst the community.BOX 6.3.35Case Study: Thaicom Digital Communities (Thailand)
Zacharilla, Louis. "The Future of Thailand -- 999 Schools beneath the Enlightened Footprint." Digital Communities. N.p., 25 Mar. 2011. Web. 19 Nov. 2012. http://www.digitalcommunities.com/blogs/communities/The-Future-of-Thailand----999-Schools-beneath-the-Enlightened-Footprint.html
"Corporate Social Responsibility." Thaicom. N.p., n.d. Web. http://www.thaicom.net/about_csr_en.asp
In 2003, under the direction of President Vicente Fox, Mexico launched its “e-Mexico” initiative, developing 10,000 “Digital Community Centers” in an attempt to connect 90% of the country to the Internet. From the outset, e-Mexico projected that it would increase the number of Internet users within the country from 4.5 million to 60 million users. The project integrated the below objectives:
- Develop the e-México National System as a technological system with social content to have a profound impact on the society development.
- Eliminate access barriers to information and services, and reduce the Mexicans digital divide between them and with the rest of the world, that through the voice, images and data transfer, allow the access to the information delivering, related with education, culture, health, government, commerce and other services.
- Achieve the integration of the more isolated communities with the rest of the country, by making accessible to all population the use of new Information and Communication Technologies in their multiple purposes increasing their development.
- Integrate efforts with the different government levels, social and private sectors as well as telecommunications network operators of the country
Encourage digital connectivity services penetration and promote the use of information and communication technologies, and computers industry among the population, especially in the localities with less development level and where more attention to their impulse is required and integrate them to the new economy.
Accelerate the historical tendencies in the services penetration in telecommunication and informatics with the objective to guaranty the social services and contents coverage of the e-México National System and to be present in all the national territory and at the reach of population.
The project was developed to reduce the country’s digital divide, making Internet access universal regardless of location or socio-economic factors. President Fox recognized the benefits of connecting citizens to the Internet, including increased development opportunities, a more informed and political populace, enhanced competitiveness, and a higher quality of life.
E-Mexico focused on three overarching themes: connectivity, content, and systems. It not only offered the provision of physical centers where citizens could access the Internet, but also promoted its application through e-government, e-health, e-economy, and e-learning services. It also encouraged knowledge sharing through increased connectivity. Nearly three- quarters of all center activity was based on some form of digital literacy training or learning service.
The project did not have a specified budget, but rather focused on developing partnerships with various sectors to achieve the most cost-efficient deployment as possible. Mexico’s ministries and foundations collaborating on this project included the Public Education Ministry, the Latin American Institute of Educational Computing, the Health Ministry, the National Federalism Institute, the Education for Life and Job National Council, and Adults Education National Institute.
Within a matter of months, the project had completed the installation of more than 3,000 sites, mainly within schools, libraries, medical clinics, and post offices. The second phase of the project installed an additional 4000 network access points, and by the end of 2004, the project had brought a total of 7200 CCDs to the country. E-Mexico reached its goal of 10,000 CCDs by 2006. Its interactive portal was featured at 7500 sites and saw more than 5 million monthly visitors.BOX 6.3.36Case Study: e-Mexico National System (Mexico)
"Intelligent Community Visionary of the Year." Intelligent Community Forum (ICF). N.p., 2012. Web. https://www.intelligentcommunity.org/index.php?src=gendocs
"E-México: Mexico’s Digital Community Centers." N.p., n.d. Web. http://bos.fkip.uns.ac.id/pub/onno/library-ref-eng/cd-apec-telecenter/document/29_15_e-Mexico_CCDs_JPM.pdf
"E-Mexico National System." Proc. of Wireless Internet Society North America Digital Cities Convention, Houston. N.p., 2 Mar. 2006. Web. http://broadbandadoptiontoolkit.com/download/p/fileId_81
Over the course of four years, Hewlett-Packard implemented Digital Community Centers in twelve countries throughout the Europe and MENA region as part of its commitment to provide underserved communities around the world with the necessary tools and infrastructure for learning and development. The centers provide low-income communities with basic computer, Internet, and business skills to help its citizens find employment. The project typically targets teachers, health care providers, students, and the unemployed. Participating communities were selected based on the capacity of ICT to further their development as well as “their capacity to execute and sustain their vision and plans.” Hewlett Packard’s presence in the region also contributed to the selection process, as did its relationship with local organizations and businesses, many of which contributed to the project.
December 2002 marked the launch of the Hungarian Digital Center in the city of Miskolc at the country’s Petroleum and Gas Institute. The DCC offered the country’s first multimedia center of its kind to train teachers and students on how to implement online training within the environmental industry. In 2005, the center launched its “Envirotrainer” program, a distance-learning program designed to train secondary school teachers on the implementation of environmental technology into the classroom. Program topics include water and waste management, technology, and innovation.
While Hewlett-Packard provides the initial funding and is actively involved with each center for three years, it keeps long-term sustainability in mind, collaborating with local governments and agencies to ensure additional ongoing funding. Like many other successful initiatives, it promotes the “train the trainer” model, involving local IT experts to work with members of the community to enhance digital literacy and also serve as role models.BOX 6.3.37Case Study: Hewlett-Packard Digital Community Centers (Hungary)
"HP Digital Community Centres." Hewlett-Packard Development Company, Feb. 2006. Web. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/shared/bsp/hi/pdfs/16_05_06_digital.pdf
Cyber cafes remain a very important public Internet access point around the world, particularly in emerging countries. A database tracking cyber cafes deployment compiles data on 3,959 facilities* broken down as follows (see table 6.12):
While incomplete in terms of the total population, the statistics in table 6.12 are important in terms of pointing out that even in countries with high broadband penetration, cybercafés remain quite popular. For example, the database includes 308 cybercafes in the United Kingdom and 149 in France alone.
Local Area Network Houses
In developed and developing countries alike, privately owned local area network (LAN) houses not only promote broadband access, but also foster a community of online gamers who can connect and compete with each other. Many centers now offer digital training and other services as well, but in the least, they promote the social aspect of high-speed Internet use and increase the demand for such services. LAN houses typically consist of a network of connected computers where users can congregate to play the games, though many have expanded to offer additional services.
In some instances, they serve as the only point of access for many citizens, while in others they supplement household broadband access, serving a more social function. Most LAN houses charge users an hourly fee and the popularity of the houses keeps the prices down as owners compete with each other to attract more customers and drive business. They have been credited with driving digital inclusion, particularly important in countries with little public investment in broadband access and low penetration rates.
Throughout Brazil, citizens access the Internet at Local Area Network (LAN) Houses, a concept that has taken the country by storm since 1998. As the name implies, each house consists of a network of computers assembled together. Previously found exclusively in wealthy communities, the LAN houses are now most popular in poor, rural regions where computers and broadband are not easily accessible. Beyond offering ICT tools, the houses also serve as social meeting points. While the houses were originally designed to support multi-player video gaming, and nearly half of all users report going to the LAN houses to play video games, an equal amount also use the services to access social networks, stay informed, and conduct job searches or work on school projects.
The LAN Houses serve to reduce the country’s digital divide, offering affordable ICT and broadband access to Brazil’s citizens regardless of their location or socio-economic status. They have been attributed to increased sociability, and serve as a means to promote such tools as e-governance and e-education. Many also offer computer training courses and help with creating resumes and searching for jobs.
While owners choose their own pricing strategies, LAN houses typically charge between US$ 0.40 and US$ 1.50 per hour. Some neighborhoods have more than 100 LAN houses, many of which stand side by side and still have lines of residents waiting to use computers throughout the day.
The LAN houses came about in part as a result of the federal government’s Computers for All development project, which created credit lines allowing low-income families to purchase computers in small monthly installments. In some instances, citizens would purchase a computer and charge people to use it. As they accrued profits, they would purchase more computers and broadband access.
By 2008, the country held more than 90,000 LAN houses, accounting for half of all Internet access in Brazil and 79% of all Internet access amongst the two poorest classes. For many of these citizens, the LAN houses were their only means of accessing the Internet. By 2010, an estimated 35 million citizens utilized LAN houses, a number slightly below previous years due to increased mobile phone penetration.BOX 6.3.38Case Study: LAN Houses (Brazil)
Góes, Paula. "Brazil: Socio-digital Inclusion through the LAN House Revolution." Global Voices. N.p., 28 Sept. 2009. Web. http://globalvoicesonline.org/2009/09/28/brazil-socio-digital-inclusion-through-the-lan-house-revolution/
Lemos, Ronaldo, and Paula Martini. "LAN Houses: A New Wave of Digital Inclusion in Brazil." Information Technologies & International Development 6 (2010): 31-35. Web. http://itidjournal.org/itid/article/viewFile/619/259
The Korean model of PC Bangs inspired the Brazilian LAN Houses. These LAN gaming centers allow multiple users to play video games simultaneously for a low fee. Unlike the typical notion of a cyber café, PC Bangs do not merely offer Internet access, but rather foster online and offline social gaming communities. When the centers were first established, they were described as being similar to a quiet library, but have since evolved into an “open, frenetic coin-operated setting” that also offers food and beverages. By 2008, Seoul alone housed more than 22,000 PC bangs. Even as household broadband penetration rates in the country increase, the popularity of the PC bang remains stable.
The PC Bangs are especially popular amongst the country’s youth population, with many students spending their afternoons playing online games with their friends after school before homework and evening family obligations. The rates of play – typically between US$ 0.40 and US$ 2.00 - are targeted for this age group, with many PC bangs offering rates that get incrementally lower with usage.
That said, because PC Bangs are typically open 24 hours a day, the demographics change based on the time of the day. The average user in the mornings, for instance, is a male between the ages of 30 and 50. Many of these users also come to the room to day trade or search for jobs.
Korea saw its first Internet connections in 1994, and within a year, Internet cafes emerged to offer individuals the high-speed access previously afforded only by universities and research institutions. In 1997, the government ended the monopoly of the country’s only telco, Korea Telecom, which gave birth to competitors like Hanaro Telecom, which built its business on broadband connections. At the same time, software developer Blizzard Entertainment released its game StarCraft for Microsoft Windows, and many users felt that they could not play the game adequately without a broadband connection, thus increasing the demand for such services and giving rise to the PC Bangs. To drive demand further, many of the bangs also offered StarCraft competitions and events.
Because the popularity of games drives the demand for the PC Bangs and vice versa, it is not uncommon to see partnerships between manufacturers and PC Bangs. Many rooms have contracts with the gaming distributors to offer select games on their machines and prohibit users from downloading other games. To keep rent low, most rooms are located on the second or third floors of commercial buildings, where real estate is typically cheaper than more valuable first-floor or top-floor space, although high-rise building space is typically not available in rural areas.BOX 6.3.39Case Study: PC Bangs (Korea)
Huhh, Jung-Sok. "Culture and Business of PC Bangs in Korea." Games and Culture 3.1 (2008): 26-37. Sage Journals. Web. http://gac.sagepub.com/content/3/1/26
"The PC Room Culture." Play as Life. N.p., 8 July 2010.
126.96.36.199 Economics of Shared Public Access Centers
In general, access to shared public access centers is free, with two exceptions. In the case of government or NGO-sponsored cases, SME access could be charged. If the center is a for-profit enterprise (e.g. cybercafé), user access is charged. An informal survey of cybercafés access rates around the world indicate that, while these for-profit centers are often presented as an affordable means of gaining Internet access, the rates remain significantly high for large portions of the population (see table 6.13).
3.00TABLE 6.13Cybercafe: Cost per Hour (in US$) (2012)
Source: Daub, T. (2012). Cost of Cyberliving, retrieved from http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2004/07/01
188.8.131.52 Ancillary Access Centers
Research conducted in some industrialized (e.g. United States) and emerging (e.g. Mexico) countries would indicate that broadband access centers located as adjacent to existing facilities (such as libraries, cultural centers, and youth centers) register higher usage and citizen engagement than standalone centers. The experience of this type of center will be reviewed, including the factors leading to a higher success rate, as measured by frequency of attendance and operational sustainability.
By offering broadband access and related training in youth and community centers as well as in libraries and even post offices, the initiatives have the following advantages:
- Citizens already utilize these venues and are comfortable coming here.
- Beyond the physical infrastructure, the centers have resources and staff, which means less overhead for the program.
- Many of the centers already offer broadband access; digital literacy promotion can be as simple as offering support or advice to users, but can also include formal workshops or one-on-one training.
- Depending on the staff at the center, trainings can incorporate basic skills (email, Internet searches) as well as skills more relevant to the workplace or center.
- Programs can simultaneously address digital literacy, awareness, and access
In instances where government centers, like post offices, are used as points of access, they not only serve to provide the public with broadband access, but also promote e- Governance and allow the government to deploy online services and better connect with the community. Other instances work with centers as a result of partnerships between local, federal, and national governments and international corporations and grassroots organizations.
Ancillary access centers play a significant role in communities where the population has limited broadband access in the home. Similar to aforementioned initiatives, as citizens become more comfortable with the technology through the access afforded by these centers, they will likely pass down their learned skills to family members, friends, and coworkers.
The United States’ Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) oversees grant making, policy development, and research to support the country’s 123,000 libraries and 17,500 museums in providing public access to knowledge, culture, and learning. In June 2012, the IMLS awarded a $250,000 grant to WebJunction, a non-profit that offers online training and networking to library staff with a focus on workplace-applicable skills. The organization promotes library technology and management as well as increased public access in small and rural locations. With this grant, WebJunction established a partnership with select state libraries, federal policy makers, and the national non-profit Connect2Compete, which provides free digital literacy training, discounted high-speed Internet, and low-cost computers to promote increased technology access and economic competitiveness.
This partnership facilitates digital literacy training at the libraries and will serve as a model for future initiatives in other states. The grant not only factors in the infrastructure costs, but also the expenditures related to planning and promoting the program. Ideally, with proper preparation, this project will spur future initiatives with support from the private and public sector.
Per IMLS, one-third of Americans do not have home broadband access. The foundation recognizes that low digital literacy rates act as a barrier and contribute to this deficiency. The grant promotes ICT skills at the local level through public libraries, which have historically served as “the nation’s de facto digital literacy corps.” For millions of Americans, the only exposure to broadband is at the public library, so it follows that digital literacy training should occur here. Prior to this initiative, the United States’ National Broadband Plan acknowledged the role that libraries could and should play in increasing digital proficiency in their respective communities.
78% of libraries already offer informal digital literacy training – helping patrons to use computers and perform basic Internet searches – and 38% host formal workshops. This project will raise awareness and support of these endeavors and promote effective engagement and instruction.
Since its 2003 launch, WebJunction has reached more than 70,000 library staff members. This grant only covers library training in the states of Illinois, Mississippi, and West Virginia, with the hopes that other states will use this experience as a roadmap in engaging in similar projects in the future.BOX 6.3.40Institute of Museum and Library Sciences (United States)
IMLS Announces Grant to Support Libraries' Roles in National Broadband Adoption Efforts." Press Releases. Institute of Museum and Library Sciences, 14 June 2012. Web. http://www.imls.gov/imls_announces_grant_to_support_libraries_roles_in_national_broadband_adoption_efforts.aspx
"About Us." WebJunction. N.p., n.d. Web. http://www.webjunction.org/about-us.html
184.108.40.206 Stand-alone Public Access Centers
Complementing the review of ancillary access centers, the experience of stand-alone community access units will be reviewed, focusing on some of the “do’s and don’ts’s” that will enhance their success rate. In general, some of the practices for access centers:
- Ensure that centers issue annual or semi-annual reports informing about activities being held, courses, results, topics taught, number of participants, etc.
- Conduct internal evaluations of access centers every six months, measuring and comparing indicators such as number of visits per month, number of users per month, indicating gender, age, email accounts, blogs, and websites being created, etc.
- Make sure that qualified personnel design the training activities and train the users.
Some of these stand-alone mobile facilities take the form of an “Internet bus” which goes to the neighborhoods to provide training upon request. An effective measure of ownership is when a group neighbors, a club or an association make a reservation for the bus to come to their community.
Among best practices in the case of mobile access centers:
- Hold training sessions in small groups in a non-formal atmosphere.
- Faculty to student ratio should be 1:5, for sessions of no more than 10 attendees.
- Courses are typically held for two hours and entail 5 sessions.
- Courses should follow a basic frame, that can be modified based on the knowledge level of participants.
- It is advisable to manage mobile programs in coordination with a community library services which, in many cases, already operate library buses and stationary internet access centers.
In 2009, the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) launched its Community Technology Access (CTA) project to give refugees and displaced individuals access to computers. The goal is to increase educational opportunities for this disadvantaged group, particularly women and girls. The access centers offer formal education, basic digital literacy course, long- distance learning programs, vocational training, and assistance with job applications. Further, access to Internet enables refugees to stay in contact with their family by way of email. In many ways, access to ICT tools will return some degree of stability to the refugee’s lives.
Following training, refugees and members of the local community have the opportunity to work with the CTA as facility managers, technicians, and trainers. The program focuses on long-term sustainability, and hopes to create a design that will allow for seamless replication and scaling.
The project piloted in 2009 in Rwanda’s Kiziba camp, where refugees fleeing the Democratic Republic of Congo had lived for more than 12 years at that time. Within the camp, refugees had very little access to educational opportunities and many had never seen – let alone used – a computer. With little likelihood of returning to their home countries, the refugees required the tools and skillsets necessary for self-sustainability, which came with increased access to and understanding of ICT.
The partnership between the UNHCR and corporate sponsors makes the program possible. As a proponent of renewable energy, UNHCR provides rural CTAs with solar power as necessary. Microsoft offers expert advice for the project and donates software while Hewlett Packard donates computers and hardware. PricewaterhouseCoopers offers pro bono staff and project management consulting and the Motorola Foundation provided the funding for the centers in Rwanda and Bangladesh.
UNHCR did not release information regarding the exact financial cost of the project, but its 2011 budget for all projects within Rwanda totaled US$ 35.2 million.
Since the success of the initial 2009 pilot, the CTA program has expanded to include 31 centers in 13 countries: Azerbaijan, Armenia, Argentina, Bangladesh, Bulgaria, Georgia, Kenya, Mauritania, Nepal, Rwanda, Uganda, Sudan and Yemen.BOX 6.3.41Community Technology Access Centers (Rwanda)
"Computer Gateways to Self-Sufficiency." Community Technology Access. UNHCR, n.d. Web. http://www.unhcr.org/pages/4ad2e8286.html
UNHCR-Microsoft Partnership Applying ICT to Support Refugee. Rep. UNHCR. Microsoft., June 2009.
6.3.3 Advanced ICT Training
As a complement to the digital literacy programs examined above, this section will review initiatives regarding advanced ICT training, focusing on workforce development, development of capabilities of SME personnel, and creating awareness of the potential of broadband among government employees.
Beyond fomenting perfunctory skills, advanced ICT training can allow individuals to establish a career in the ICT industry, which typically offers higher quality and higher paying job opportunities. As such, this type of training ultimately allows a country to shift away from an economy dependent on manufacturing to one based on high value skills. Further, advanced ICT skills can permeate other industries, improving business practices in, for example, the healthcare and finance segments.
One of the most obvious targets for this type of training is colleges, universities, and select vocational institutions. Depending on the level of training, programs can be offered as college majors geared toward employment in the IT sector or incorporated into a more general curriculum. Other programs may work with employees within a corporation or government workers. Given that many students or participants are likely older or already employed, advanced ICT training programs need to emphasize flexibility and convenience. While face-to-face training may work best in some instances, distance training and online programs may better suit other individuals.
Apart from programs integrated into the education curriculum, successful initiatives have included arrangements with government bodies, corporations, and international organizations. Emerging markets in particular have benefited from the leadership and direction of such organizations and partnerships with more advanced countries. While basic skills should remain a standard part of any ICT training program, more advanced courses may also include topics most relevant to the national economy.
In June 2006, the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) inaugurated its United Nations Asian and Pacific Training Centre for Information and Communication Technology for Development (UN-APCICT/ESCAP). Located in Incheon, Republic of Korea, the Center aims to encourage member countries’ efforts to increase ICT use. To do so, it promotes human and institutional capacity building by focusing on three key areas: training, research, and advisory services.
The region’s developing countries suffer from lower ICT penetration rates than many of their developed counterparts. These rates, however, are not so much reflective of lack of access and connectivity or insufficient infrastructure, but rather of the fact that most countries do not have the technical human capital necessary to utilize these tools. The program, therefore, concentrates its efforts on advancing digital literacy to promote ICT use and understanding.
Launched in 2008, the APCICT Academy – APCICT’s flagship training program - targets government leaders through its modular training program, promoting a higher understanding of the role ICT can play in development areas such as governance, education, health, business, and trade, amongst others. The Virtual Academy serves as its distance-learning platform and was established to maximize access to the academy’s course materials and presentation. It also offers learning management tools and certifications. Users can access and download all Academy materials and course trainers can customize them to fit the needs of their training sessions. One module awards an e-certificate of completion to users who answer more than 80% of final module quiz questions correctly. Print certificates are awarded to users who complete the final quizzes of all eight modules in the Academy of ICT Essentials for Government Leaders Program.
Beyond training programs, APCICT published its Knowledge Sharing Series (KSS), which offers case studies and best practices research to raise awareness of and spread ideas related to ICT for development (ICTD). It also launched its online Communities of Practice (CoP), a portal facilitating knowledge sharing amongst experts, field practitioners, and students.
To support its socio-economic development goals, APCICT engages with other UN bodies, government and non-government organizations, private sector corporations, and training institutions. These partnerships all work toward increasing national ICT capacity and providing government leaders with the ICT understanding and know-how necessary to reach their development objectives.
Since 2006, APCICT has rolled out capacity building programs in 29 countries throughout the region as well as additional programs in Africa with plans to extend to the Middle East. The Center’s efforts have reached nearly 12,000 individuals through face-to-face and online trainings and it has worked with more than 80 national and regional partners from government, civil society, academia, and private sector institutions. APCICT has also published or contributed to over 90 ICTD resources.BOX 6.3.42APCICT (Asia)
"About Us." UN-APCICT. United Nations ESCAP, n.d. Web. http://www.unapcict.org/aboutus
6.3.4 Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs)
Building digital literacy among SMEs is directly linked to the improvement of a nation’s economic performance. As reviewed by Katz (2012), broadband adoption contributes to economic growth. Considering that SMEs represent the majority of establishments in any given country, and the size of their participation in the national product, programs that target SMEs should have a significant economic return.
Broadband and ICT awareness development among SMEs is based on two distinct types of efforts: training of both personnel and management, and the provision of consulting services to facilitate broadband adoption.
220.127.116.11 Training for SMEs
By its own definition, SMEs tend to be later adopters of broadband and ICT in general in the enterprise universe. In this context, the potential training initiatives focused on SMEs will be reviewed, ranging from efforts conducted within economic development units to industrial promotion administrations. Examples will be provided of types of programs and curricula that have proven to be particularly effective.
Because of its economic rationale, training on IT and broadband focused on SMEs is typically linked to large-scale national or regional initiatives. Some initiatives could entail formal certification of skills acquired, although others provide informal training on computer and Internet use. SME training programs are primarily focused on improving usability of the technology. As such, they tend to comprise standard computer courses and, in some cases, applications that fit onto existing enterprise work processes.
Given that these types of initiatives are economically focused, it might be pertinent to consider whether the programs should be offered free of charge or require some payment. In general, while training is provided for free, there are programs where users are asked to pay a symbolic fee, or even contribute to program expenses by acquiring training material (which in some cases could be reduced through a subsidy).
SME training programs should address the following concerns:
- Skill development: training should emphasize skills relevant to the workplace.
- Target audience: to the above point, the skills emphasized should focus on local relevancy (e.g. as they would relate to textile or coffee production in the case of a small village in Africa) rather than standard ICT skills.
- Convenience: offer trainings in areas that are easily accessible to the largest segment of the population; beyond physical workshops, consider the transmission of training through websites or video distribution to reach a larger audience that may not be able to attend the training due to time or location constraints.
- Purpose: while these trainings will ideally create a workforce capable of integrating ICT tools into the workplace, these trainings must also effectively raise awareness of their benefits.
As SME training programs have similar objectives to basic digital literacy programs, it may make sense to incorporate the two, with SME trainings acting as extensions of more basic programs that are tailored to the needs of business owners and employees. By enhancing the ICT awareness and capability of SMEs, successful initiatives can enhance competiveness and productivity while allowing SMEs to compete with larger MNCs that have the staff and resources to utilize ICT and broadband.
As a technical cooperation agency, UNIDO’s activities fall into three categories: poverty reduction through productive activities, trade capacity building, and environment and energy. By introducing productive activities to countries, the organization in turn allows their citizens to find a path out of poverty. Customized services to this end include – amongst others – industrial policy advice, technology diffusion, and SME development.
By 2008, many African countries had not yet reached their Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) despite the approaching 2015 deadline. The organization found that these countries relied on the success of SMEs to strengthen their economies and reduce the socio-economic divide. UNIDO argued that in order to enhance their productivity and competitiveness, SMEs must see increased ICT access.
In 2006, UNIDO and Microsoft signed a Memorandum of Understanding that led to the development of the District Business Information Center (DBIC) program in Uganda. For its part, Microsoft developed ICT-related services, training, and awareness for the rural business community through its Digital Literacy program and SME training curriculum. The program focuses on providing the DBICs with the tools and skillset necessary for entrepreneurship development and sustainability. UNIDO trains two staff members per center - a business information officer and an ICT trainer – in technology and entrepreneurship, allowing them to access information on markets, customers, and technologies and open doors for business development. The project was financed by UNIDO and a grant from the Austrian Development Agency.
In 2007, the DBIC project received the Africa Investor Award in the “Best Initiative in Support of Small and Medium Enterprise Development” category. Since the project’s implementation, UNIDO has cited the following benefits:
- Improved decision making through tailor-made business information
- Relevant ICT training, entrepreneurial advice and ICT support
- Unprecedented access to new markets, technologies and services
- Increased competitiveness and productivity
As of 2008, the initiative had developed eight DBICs throughout the country, training 315 men and 226 women across industries such as food processing, textile, and coffee.OX 6.3.43District Business Information Centers (Uganda)
Unido.org. N.p., n.d. Web. http://www.unido.org/
Promoting Public-Private Partnerships. Rep. UNIDO, Microsoft, Dec. 2008. Web. http://www.unido.org/fileadmin/user_media/Services/PSD/ICT/GSA%20White%20paper%205.12.08.pdf
"UNIDO: District Business Information Centres in Uganda." Microsoft, n.d. Web. http://www.microsoft.com/publicsector/ww/international-organizations/projects/Pages/district-business-information-centres.aspx
Real Impact for Better Development. Rep. UNIDO, Microsoft, 2011.
Established by the Federal Ministry for Economy and Labor and the Austrian Chamber of Commerce, Ecaustria serves as an online information and communication platform. It falls under the Federal Ministry’s larger “Let’s e-biz” initiative, which aims to promote and support e-business. The interactive ecaustria.at website offers users news pertaining to the e-business sector as well as best practice case studies, information on starting a new e-business, and an annual awards section recognizing the best e-business and multimedia products in the country. It also provides e-learning and IT-training courses.
The government created the website in an effort to transform Austria into one of the world’s Information Age leaders. This initiative has two main objectives: raise awareness and provide effective training. These resources demonstrate how an Internet connection can assist businesses in establishing relationships with both customers and suppliers and in entering the global marketplace. At the time of the project’s inception, many large companies already conducted business over the Internet, with small and medium-sized enterprises acting as their suppliers. By learning how to use this tool effectively, SMEs could more easily connect with these businesses and also become more competitive in the market. Further, Ecaustria places high value on user interaction and best practices examples. The unrealistic expectations and propaganda on the part of the Information Technology community proved detrimental to the economy in the Internet’s early stages, and the website served to convince SMEs of the benefits of e-businesses.
To develop the Ecaustria platform,planners spent six months working with more than 300 experts from business, science, and administration industries. This consultation resulted in specialized services covering all topics relevant to e-business, such as e-content, e-employment, e-location, etc. The success of the project has been attributed to its sophisticated marketing techniques, which include traditional advertising, Internet and event marketing, and extensive public relations targeting the business-to-business segment. In 2002, the European Commission nominated Ecaustria for its exemplary project award.
Complementing the “Let’s e-biz” platform, TELEFIT also serves as an information platform. The initiative targets SMEs in remote regions, offering videotaped trainings of its live “e-business road show,” which takes place in urban areas and highlights best practices and guidelines to encourage SMEs to take advantage of the e-economy. TELEFIT aims to prepare SMEs for the changes in telecommunications by providing the necessary tools and knowledge to profit from this new technology. The program addresses the specific needs of SMEs and also offers financial support as necessary.
TELEFIT’s services are delivered through the Institute of Economic Promotion’s network. The European Funds for Regional Development (EFRE) works with the Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and the Economic Chamber of Austria to fund the project. Each event costs approximately EUR 11,000.
When TELEFIT first began, approximately 30% of SMEs in the country operated online. Within three years, this number had increased to 80%. In four years’ time, the TELEFIT roadshow made 70 stops, connecting directly with 40,000 SMEs and providing more than 300,000 with relevant information.BOX 6.3.44Ecaustria and TELEFIT (Austria)
Benchmarking National and Regional E-business Policies for SMEs. Rep. European Commission, 12 June 2002.
OECD SME and Entrepreneurship Outlook 2005. Paris: OECD, 2005.
Established in 2000 by the Swedish Alliance for Electronic Commerce (GEA), the SVEA program aims to raise awareness of the benefits of e-commerce for SMEs. Targeting those businesses with little IT knowledge and no prior e-business experience, SVEA focuses more on the evolving business processes than the actual technology. By demonstrating the commercial advantages of engaging in e-business, the project encourages these companies to join the digital economy.
To achieve this goal, SVEA utilizes best practice research to demonstrate specific uses of e-commerce for companies in all sectors and regions. Within each SME, SVEA works with select “ambassadors” who can then train and educate other employees in their respective companies. By utilizing the train-the-trainer model, the benefits of the trainings are more easily diffused across organizations to reach a larger number of employees, who can then benefit from expertise in e-business application. Further, any member of the SME can access the SVEA database, which serves as a knowledge exchange tool and also offers analysis of the company’s day-to-day operations and case histories. The program also utilizes conferences and seminars and works with IT solutions providers to demonstrate how e-business can positively impact SME operations.
Beyond these mechanisms, SVEA offers interactive, informal training over existing URLs that cover such topics as billing, exports, and logistics. Business associations, local consultants, partner companies, and research firms work with the program to offer these services and such partnerships allow SVEA to adapt more readily to the various demands of different SMEs. Funding for the project comes from private sector partners that have an interest in supporting SMEs. This partnership also serves to enhance the reputation of SVEA. The initial two-year budget for the SVEA project was EUR 1.8 mn total, with an additional EUR 400,000 set aside for the third year.
When the program first began, it aimed to educate 100,000 SMEs on the benefits of e-business and to see 30,000 utilizing this tool. In the first two years, the e-business increased from 26% to 54%. The number of SMEs utilizing the Internet to purchase supplies reached 41%, and nearly one-quarter of SMEs sold their products and services online.BOX 6.3.45SVEA (Sweden)
Source: Benchmarking National and Regional E-business Policies for SMEs. Rep. European Commission, 12 June 2002.
18.104.22.168 Consulting Services for SMEs
Complementing SME training, the provision of subsidized consulting services to SMEs has proven to be a powerful tool to increase awareness and promote adoption of broadband services and ICT, in general. Consulting can be provided by different entities: government-sponsored units, university students supervised by faculty (for practical training purposes), and pro-bono private sector firms. As opposed to the aforementioned training programs, however, consulting services tend to go beyond overarching basic training and awareness raising, focusing more on the implementation of ICT into individual SME business. In many instances, this implementation not only affords higher levels of productivity and competency, but also allows SMEs to enter the e-commerce arena.
These types of programs are especially popular in the European Union, which, by 2000, housed nearly 19 million SMEs. Examination of such programs has yielded the below recommendations:
- Employ independent consultants who can offer their unbiased opinions and bring their professional experience to the table.
- Programs that deploy consultants to individual SMEs should work to establish an overarching standardization to ensure quality and equity of service.
- Establish local centers in convenient locations where SME owners can seek tailored advice.
- Incorporate some degree of flexibility into the budget; as SME consultancy programs grow and more SMEs seek their services, expenditures tend to increase.
- To finance the project, partnerships with private entities (e.g. financial institutions or consulting firms) may take some strain off government resources.
- Programs should also offer to SMEs such resources as databases of best practices information, online support staff, and a means for SMEs to communicate with and learn from each other.
An important aspect of consultancy programs is the ability to provide customized, tailored support to SMEs. Such services may include the establishment of a long-term business model based on the integration of ICT while others should target the needs of each SME to integrate such technology as necessary. These services should consider such factors as an SME’s available resources, limitations, and future goals.
The Finnish Ministry of Trade and Industry developed the eASKEL program to enhance SME e-business development by increasing management competency, implementing profitable e-business opportunities, identifying core e-business needs, and producing a development program for participating companies. The service trains private-sector consultants specifically for this project, who then work with SMEs who have little IT or e- business experience. The consultants spend 2 – 5 days with their clients to develop an e- analysis and offer advice on how to integrate new technology into their operations.
This method allows consultants to design a strategic plan based on the individual needs and resources of each SME. For instance, if a company only has one computer, a CRM solution would not be the most appropriate option. Employing independent consultants allows the SMEs to benefit from professionals with extensive IT and e-business knowledge, who can also use their prior experience with other organizations in formulating their analyses. As a “Branded Expert Service,” the program’s standardized format ensures accountability and quality for all participating SMEs.
Prior to eASKEL, Finland’s Ministry of Trade and Industry partnered with the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry and the Ministry of Labor to create regional Employment and Economic Development Centers (T&E Centers). These fifteen centers located throughout the country offer businesses and individuals advice and development services. After the T&E centers reported that SMEs needed more support in utilizing e-business tools, the eASKEL program was piloted.
The project’s budget depends on the number of participating companies, with EUR 320,000 allocated for every 500 companies, the annual target. Each company pays approximately 35% of the consultants’ fees and the remainder is funded by the government’s T&E Centers, which have a budget specifically for consultation services. The government ultimately subsidizes 85% of the consulting fees associated with the project.BOX 6.3.46eASKEL (Finland)
Source: Benchmarking National and Regional E-business Policies for SMEs. Rep. European Commission, 12 June 2002.
The government of the German state Lower Saxony implemented the “b-online – Lower Saxony supports e-commerce” initiative in 2000 to encourage SMEs to take advantage of the Internet and e-commerce capabilities. At the time of the project’s inception, the region had a very high number of SMEs, yet very few used the Internet to its full capabilities.
The network consists of seven local centers – known as “b-online-junctions” – throughout Lower Saxony that are each built and managed locally. Each center employs b-online consultants to offer SMEs assistance in utilizing Internet and ICT tools and implementing e- commerce strategies. The consultants also raise awareness and conduct ICT skill-building training for SMEs through local workshops, special events, and demonstration projects. The project’s annual “e-commerce in Lower Saxony” roadshow brings to light the best practices at each center and the annual “e-business Prize Lower Saxony” recognizes innovative e- business projects.
To encourage SMEs to use e-commerce services, b-online first focuses on raising awareness of the advantages of Internet use for these businesses. Consultation is available for businesses on a walk-in basis or through scheduled appointments. This consultation allows SMEs to benefit from tailored information, which can cover all topics related to e-commerce, particularly legal and security matters. For those businesses that have already begun to use these tools, the consultants can provide industry-specific advice and encourage cross-sector e- business applications. The project also encourages businesses to network together to share their experiences and best practices.
The b-online centers work with Federal Government competence centers to offer a central database of service providers, which is accessible by all affiliated organizations. The project also serves as a filter of all available e-commerce related information so that SMEs can better utilize the resources most relevant to their individual needs.
The project is supported by the Lower Saxony Chambers of Commerce and Trade and the Technology Agency of Lower Saxony (NATI). The chamber of commerce deals with the content aspect of the project while NATI handles all PR and administrative matters. The project was funded by a government contribution of EUR 2.15 mn, which was divided between the chambers of commerce and NATI. While the b-online project was projected to take place for two years, it was continued for an additional year.
In its first two years, b-online organized 337 events and training workshops that reached more than 14,000 SMEs. The project initiated 600 consulting projects that focused specifically on those small enterprises with less than 20 employees.BOX 6.3.47B-Online (Germany)
Source: Benchmarking National and Regional E-business Policies for SMEs. Rep. European Commission, 12 June 2002.
With a focus on access, usability, quality of service, and cost, the Opportunity Wales program promotes SME support networks by providing e-commerce consulting and implementation. The Wales Trades Union Congress partnered with British Telecom and HSBC Bank in 1999 to address the attitudes toward e-commerce in Wales while raising awareness of the tangible benefits it can offer businesses. The project offers SMEs customized support based on each enterprise’s individual needs. The advisor works with the company to develop the necessary steps to introduce e-commerce into its business.
The initiative emphasizes the importance of offering businesses one-to-one support by advisors with proper training and experience in implementing e-commerce models. Advisors’ consultation services utilize the research and lessons learned from the replication and feedback of similar projects in other parts of the region. Prior to the commencement of the initiative, advisors and planners conducted in-depth consultation to ensure the incorporation of these lessons.
The e-commerce Innovation Center provides formal standardized training and accreditation to the advisors and also makes available relevant resources and knowledge. A contact center and 24-hour Internet portal provide a guide to best practices and Better Business Wales serves to offer advice as needed.
Opportunity Wales recognizes that as SMEs become more comfortable with e-commerce, they will experience increased sales and higher levels of efficiency. In turn, the region will benefit from prosperity and increased employment opportunities. Research conducted by the nationally recognized survey organization, National Opinion Polls, in 2000 demonstrated that while businesses in Wales knew about e-commerce, few had actually utilized it. In-depth analysis showed little knowledge when it came to the implementation process, and the low Internet penetration rates in the region further hindered e-commerce uptake.
The National Assembly for Wales provided the initial funding for the project, though the partnership grew to include additional private sector, government, and university partners. The project first applied for funding from the European Union in 2000 and received approval from the Wales European Funding Office (WEFO) in 2001. WEFO supplied EUR 17 mn of the EUR 33 mn budget, with the remainder coming from partner organizations and the National Assembly. The majority of the budget went toward face-to-face SME consultation services and implementation support, with a very marginal amount left over for grant aid.
Opportunity Wales aimed to train 130 advisors and directly reach 35,000 companies within the first three years.BOX 6.3.48Opportunity Wales
22.214.171.124 Broadband and New Firm Formation
Broadband technology is a contributor to economic growth at several levels. First, the deployment of broadband technology across business enterprises improves productivity by facilitating the adoption of more efficient business processes (e.g., marketing, inventory optimization, and streamlining of supply chains). Second, extensive deployment of broadband accelerates innovation by introducing new consumer applications and services (e.g., new forms of commerce and financial intermediation). Third, broadband leads to a more efficient functional deployment of enterprises by maximizing their reach to labor pools, access to raw materials, and consumers, (e.g., outsourcing of services, virtual call centers.). The study of the impact of broadband on economic growth covers numerous aspects, ranging from its aggregate impact on GDP growth, to the differential impact of broadband by industrial sector, the increase of exports, and changes in intermediate demand and import substitution.
In the area of productivity enhancements, it is logical to assume that productivity of information workers, defined as the portion of the economically active population whose working function is to process information (administrative employees, managers, teachers, journalists) depends directly on the investment in ICT capital (and particularly broadband). The studies conducted by this author* have, in fact, concluded that the larger the per cent of the workforce dedicated to information generation and processing is, the higher the proportion of capital stocks invested in the acquisition of ICT infrastructure (see Figure 6.23).
Figure 6.23 and the corresponding regression coefficient indicate the existence of a direct relationship existing between the amount of information workers and IT capital investment in a given economy: as expected, the larger the proportion of information workers in a given the economy, the more capital is invested in information technology.
How can one theoretically explain the relationship between ICT and productivity? In his economics dissertation at Harvard University (1982), Charles Jonscher raised the hypothesis that if we can measure the micro-economic impact of ICT on firm productivity, then we should also be able to link the growth in informational occupations and the adoption of technology to improve their productivity at the macroeconomic level. According to Jonscher, economic growth logically leads to increasing complex production processes. In turn, complexity in production processes results in increasing the functional complexity within firms (e.g. more inputs to be combined, more steps to be scheduled in a timely manner, more interactions occurring with suppliers of raw materials and with buyers of the end product). The first response of economic organizations to this effect is the creation of “information workers”—workers whose primary function is the manipulation of information for purposes of organizing the production of goods. At some point, however, information-processing workers become a bottleneck in the economic system. They cannot grow forever because this process reduces the overall availability of resources in other occupations. Furthermore, when information workers become a large proportion of the workforce, the complexity of information processing becomes a bottleneck itself. In other words, there is a limit to the possibility of manually storing, transferring and processing the growing amounts of information. This is where information and communication technologies come in. Their development and adoption is aimed at increasing the productivity of information workers and addressing this bottleneck. The availability of computing and communications allows firms (and their information workers) to be more productive in their manipulation of information. Broadband is a specific component performing this important productivity enhancement.
For example, research on the impact of broadband on productivity has successfully identified positive effects. For example, Waverman et al. (2009) determined the economic effect of broadband on the GDP of 15 OECD nations for the time period of 1980 to 2007. These included 14 European countries and the United States. By relying on an augmented production function derived from Waverman et al. (2005), the authors specified two models: a production function and a hedonic function for ICT capital stocks. Broadband impact on the productivity of the more developed nations in the sample was found to be 0.0013 and was statistically significant at the 5 per cent level.* In other words, Waverman estimated that for every 1 per cent increase in broadband penetration in high and medium impact income countries, productivity grows by 0.13 per cent. In another document, the authors commented upon the productivity effect in the countries of their sample with relatively low ICT penetration (Greece, Italy, Portugal, Spain and Belgium.). They found that broadband impact on productivity was nil, which indicated the high adoption costs, and critical mass thresholds.* In other words, for broadband to have an impact on productivity, the ICT eco-system has to be sufficiently developed.* It would appear, therefore, that in developed countries with high broadband penetration, the technology has an impact on aggregate productivity levels.
Evidence that broadband facilitates entrepreneurship
Beyond the employment and output impact of network construction, researchers have also studied the impact of network externalities on employment, derived from firm formation. This has been variously categorized as “innovation”, or “network effects”.* The study of network externalities resulting from broadband penetration has led to the identification of numerous innovation effects:
- New and innovative applications and services, such as telemedicine, Internet search, e-commerce, online education and social networking.*
- New forms of commerce and financial intermediation.*
- Mass customization of products.*
- Reduction of excess inventories and optimization of supply chains.*
- Business revenue growth.*
- Growth in service industries.*
Most of the research regarding the impact of broadband externalities on employment has been conducted using US data. There are two types of studies of these effects: regression analyses and top down multipliers. The first ones attempt to identify the macro-economic variables that can impact employment*, while the second ones rely on top-down network effect multipliers.
Among the econometric studies of employment impact, are Gillett et al. (2006), Crandall et al. (2007), Shideler et al. (2007) and Thompson and Garbacz (2008). The evidence regarding broadband employment externalities appears to be quite conclusive (see Table 6.12).
Again, the impact of broadband on employment creation appears to be positive. However, as the data indicates, the impact on employment growth varies widely, from 0.2 per cent to 5.32 per cent for every increase in 1 per cent of penetration. There are several explanations for this variance. As Crandall indicated, the overestimation of employment creation in his study is due to employment and migratory trends, which existed at the time and biased the sample data. In the case of Gillett et al. (2006), researchers should be careful about analyzing local effects because zip codes are small enough areas that cross-zip code commuting might throw off estimates on the effect of broadband. For example, increased wages from broadband adoption in one zip code would probably raise rent levels in neighboring zip codes prompting some migration effects. Finally, the wide range of effects in the case of Shideler et al. (2007) is explained by the divergent effects among industry sectors.
Beyond regression studies, “network effect” multipliers have been used to assess the impact of broadband on job creation in a top down fashion. Within this group, key studies are Pociask (2002), Atkinson et al. (2009) and Liebenau et al. (2009). Pociask (2002) and Atkinson et al. (2009) studies relied on an estimated “network effect” multiplier, which is applied to the network construction employment estimates. For example, Pociask relied on two multiplier estimates (an IT multiplier of 1.5 to 2.0 attributed to a think tank and another multiplier of 6.7, attributed to Microsoft) and calculated an average of 4.1. Similarly, Atkinson et al. (2009) derived a multiplier of 1.17 from Crandall et al. (2003). Though the top-down approach allows estimation of the broadband impact, it does not have a strong theoretical basis. Network effects are not built on interrelationships between sectors. They refer to the impact of the technology on productivity, employment and innovation by industrial sector.
The methodological implications of these studies are that in order to properly measure the contribution of broadband to job creation, it is advisable to have datasets that include time series for employment level, broadband penetration, and related human capital statistics at a disaggregated level, such as counties, departments, or administrative district.*
Like the relationship between broadband and GDP growth, the contribution of broadband to employment is also conditioned by a number of special effects. Studies have particularly focused on two specific questions:
- Does the impact on employment differ according to industry sector?
- Is there a decreasing return in employment generation linked to broadband penetration?
As with GDP, the spill-over employment effects of broadband are not uniform across sectors. According to Crandall et al. (2007), the job creation impact of broadband tends to be concentrated in service industries, (e.g., financial services, education, health care, etc.) although the authors also identified a positive effect in manufacturing. In another study, Shideler et al. (2007) found that, for the state of Kentucky, county employment was positively related to broadband adoption in the following sectors. The only sector where a negative relationship was found with the deployment of broadband (0.34% – 39.68%) was the accommodations and food services industry. This may result from a particularly strong capital/labor substitution process taking place, whereby productivity gains from broadband adoption yields reduced employment. Similarly, Thompson and Garbacz (2008) conclude that, for certain industries, “there may be a substitution effect between broadband and employment”.* It should therefore be considered that the productivity impact of broadband can cause capital-labor substitution and may result in a net reduction in employment.
In summary, research is starting to pinpoint different employment effects by industry sector. Broadband may simultaneously cause labor creation triggered by innovation in services and a productivity effect in labor-intensive sectors. However, given that the sectoral composition varies by regional economies, the deployment of broadband should not have a uniform impact across a national territory.
However, for this to materialize, resources coming from business incubation programs set up by local governments, development agencies or multinational corporations are required. For example, mLab business incubators provide the following services:*
testing and certification
Virtual business incubation
The current conditions of digital innovation, particularly in emerging markets, reflect four shortfalls:
Low liquidity (e.g. low depth of the market) flowing to innovation driven companies
Low volume of innovation companies
Lack of interest from domestic and foreign investors due to the market risk
Low turnover of companies in terms of launching and decantation of the number of start-ups
At the highest level, business innovation in emerging markets faces supply side and demand side inefficiencies.
Supply side inefficiencies comprise limited availability of inputs. For example, start- ups are confronted with limited access to capital, due to the low availability of venture capital, and angel investors. As a result, small digital projects are difficult and costly to finance individually. In addition, start-ups might experience limited access to technology infrastructure, and human capital. These supply-side innovation “failures” are of three types:
Externalities in the innovation process: this means that it is common for a potential investor not to know the potential opportunities that might exist among innovative digital start-ups
Information asymmetries: These work two ways
For liquidity, in a replication of the adverse selection and moral hazard problems highlighted in financial services, the lack of full information makes it hard for outside investors to evaluate the quality of the new ventures
For inputs, even when the infrastructure or inputs exist, innovative start-ups do not have information on their existence, which prevents them from making the right decisions to access the required development tools or infrastructure
Coordination failures: limited access to inputs of other firms that would yield productivity enhancements
Most importantly, how to commercialize products/solutions/applications developed from innovation, how to ensure delivery (distribution channels) and actual utilization by citizens
Demand side inefficiencies revolve around the limited size of the domestic market. For example, the domestic market is not large enough to provide the necessary scale to affront the development of a technology firm. In this context, demand side inefficiencies can be overcome by export-oriented policies targeting outside markets. India and Malaysia address the technology demand gap by focusing on international software, IT outsourcing and technology markets, while Ireland and Israel solve the size of the market inefficiency in software products by focusing on international markets (Ireland addressing MNCs, Israel targeting primarily the US).
Building a vibrant innovation-prone environment requires addressing these two types of gaps (see figure 6.24).
Broadband can have beneficial impact in the process known as virtual business incubation. As defined by Stam et al. (2011), virtual business incubators provide services beyond the confines of a physical building. This allows a start-up to use the services of an incubator, without actually being located at the incubator site, for instance through extension workers, online tools and off-site advisory services. They can also serve a much larger number of companies over an extended geographical area.
Virtual business incubation services, comprising business development support (training, mentoring), access to business networks and funding sources can be delivered through a variety of services:
- On-site virtual services: group training, workshops, presentations and events at which start-ups can participate
- Websites and E-learning: provide online training materials and information mail, SMS, phone, Skype, and online collaboration tools)
- On-line staff recruiting: recruitment of mentors, staff, interns, investors
- Virtual communities and events: communities and online platforms where entrepreneurs meet, exchange knowledge and information and build collaboration networks
- Crowdsourcing and crowd-funding: support start-ups by mobilizing large numbers of knowledge and funding sources
Broadband is a critical enabling platform that will facilitate delivery of these services. In fact, Stam et al. (2011) study of virtual incubators point out that unlimited supply of fixed and mobile broadband represents a critical component of these services. For example, a number of virtual incubators (Sofstart, BTI) have developed broadband connected satellite offices that can offer remote training or assistance to events to start-ups that are located in other geographies. Similarly, The Business Links website of the UK government offers a wealth of online information, including checklists, training materials and online instruction videos on practical issues, like business registration, hiring a new employee, or assessing and improving business cash flow.
Online mentoring for startups
A particular example of virtual incubation is the provision of online mentoring. In addition to access to finance and production inputs, start-ups are in great need of mentoring that helps them address the development and scaling up challenges.
Typical scaling up challenges encountered by start-ups include the aggressive growth of the customer base, assembling capabilities to support growth, modifying communications and decision making processes, functionalizing roles, and building cross-functional teams and processes. Given the limited experience often prevalent in start-up firms, mentoring becomes a critical requirement. Sources of mentoring are relatively scarce: experienced serial innovators, financiers, technology, and business executives. Mentoring includes counseling support in areas such as recruiting, organizational design, and professional development.
In this context, broadband can allow start-ups, particularly those based in remote locations, to gain access to the much-needed mentoring. Mentoring provided through on-on-one interaction tools saves time and travel costs and speeds up the provision of counseling, which can be critical in some contexts.
For example, the Founder Institute – a global network of start-ups and mentors – offers a four-month training program. Mentoring is provided through a global network of over 400 mentors, who are normally the CEO or founder of a successful start-up. The mentors are accessible both during the sessions and via email. Graduates can present their companies at so-called Founder Showcase Events in order to attract investors. Similarly, ParqueTec in Costa Rica has deployed a mentoring approach for remote (rural) incubates one-on-one, based on regular face-to-face interactions combined with phone, SMS, E-mail and Skype contact.
6.3.5 Sponsorship Structures of Awareness Programs
Having reviewed the different awareness programs, this section will present the different sponsorship options regarding implementation and funding. The review of each option will include an examination of advantages and disadvantages, as well as observed best practices.
Digital literacy program sponsorship is a critical component of its success. Research conducted by Hilding-Hamann et al. (2009) found a direct relation between the sustainability of a digital literacy program and the sponsors involved. Sponsorship, as a term, entails more dimensions than funding. It addresses the parties to be involved as stakeholders in the program. In general terms, they may include public organizations, educational institutions, private industry (both domestic firms and multinationals), non-governmental organizations, and local interest associations.
The sponsorship structure defines the contributions to be made by each stakeholder, and, in particular, the financing structure of the program. Key decisions to be made in this domain comprise the relative contribution of public and private funds, the in-kind (e.g. equipment) contributions, whether users should pay for participating in the program, and volunteer contributions. As mentioned above, the larger the group of stakeholders involved, the more likely is the project to remain sustainable. Partly, this results from financial support provided by private parties, which ensures long term funding being less subject to the vagaries of government budgeting processes.
126.96.36.199 Public Programs
These efforts and sponsored and funded directly by governments and/or other public entities.
188.8.131.52 Multilateral and Public Donors
Efforts sponsored by multilateral aid and/or public donors.
Comprised of 15 international organizations, foundations, and development banks, the Mobiles for Education Alliance works with multilateral and bilateral donors to improve formal and informal learning while making it more accessible, particularly in developing countries. The alliance reduces the barriers to education by promoting the use of low-cost mobile technology. To this end, the Alliance projects identify useful mobile applications that can address literacy, educational content, accessibility, educator development, and workforce training.
To support and advocate for m-education practices, the Alliance aims to do the following, per its website:
- Improve research, for example in the areas of mobiles for reading and content mastery via mobile delivery.
- Perform a catalytic function by leveraging the Alliance’s brand to promote and advocate for coordinated support of the effective use of mobiles in the administration and delivery of education.
- Spread knowledge and awareness of the broad spectrum of available, accessible and affordable mobile technology tools available which can and/or have a proven positive impact on education outcomes.
- Serve a convening function for practitioners, funders and leaders of the public and private sectors, to promote cooperation and coordination of efforts and knowledge in order to spur the innovation, affordability, and accessibility of mobile technologies for improved learning outcomes.
- Explore opportunities to jointly fund specific activities of shared interests (e.g. evaluations of pilot projects, additional events focused on particular areas, etc.).
The Alliance also sponsors and backs a number of organizations and events that work toward its goal of improving education through mobile technology. Such funding may go toward international workshops and symposia, research roundtables, monthly seminars, and working groups. The mEducation Alliance website feature information about these events and related resources.
Many developing countries suffer from a lack of resources that in turn impact the availability of quality education. As mobile devices – including phones, e-readers, tablets, and projectors - become more prevalent, they create an opportunity to support education initiatives and reach citizens who may otherwise not have access to quality learning material.BOX 6.3.49mEducation Alliance (International)
Source: "MEducation Alliance." MEducation Alliance. N.p., n.d. Web. http://www.meducationalliance.org/
In 2005, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) approved a regional technical assistance grant (RETA) targeting ICT investment in basic education within Central Asian countries. As part of this grant, the bank approved a US$ 600,000 budget for project implementation in Uzbekistan. Through this grant, a team created an ICT in education development strategy for the country, focusing on the introduction of ICT into lesson plans.
The project addressed not only digital literacy, but also the potential for ICT to improve the overall quality of the education system. The first step of the plan raised awareness of the benefits of – and barriers to – bringing ICT into the classroom and its potential to reduce the country’s digital divide. In this process, it also considered potential partnerships between the public and private sectors and international organizations. Ultimately, by improving Uzbekistan’s education system, the project aimed to increase the country’s competitiveness in the global, knowledge-based economy.
At the time of implementation, Uzbekistan boasted high net enrollment rates – 99% - but its basic education lacked quality and relevance. In 2002, the country established a national ICT strategy with the intention of increasing the computer student ratio from 1:110 to 1:20 and to bring Internet access to 63% of all schools by 2010. This strategy recognized that other countries that had increased ICT use in the classroom boosted students’ test scores and increased education access for those students located in rural areas.
The ADB grant followed the United Nations Development Program’s (UNDP) finding that Uzbekistan lacked sophisticated ICT development. The program’s research demonstrated that over 80% of the nation’s ICT infrastructure was outdated and that the country did not have enough computers to host computer classes, let alone to integrate this new technology into the curriculum. Only half of all schools in the country offered computer classes, and many did not have access to any computers.
In addition to the ADP’s US$ 600,000 grant, the government of Uzbekistan contributed US$ 150,000 toward the initiative. The Ministry of Education managed the project, which took place from March 2005 through February 2006. Beginning in 2006, the Government of Uzbekistan’s National Program for Basic Education Development began another phase of introducing ICT into the education system, with this push focusing on Internet deployment in classrooms. ADB funded US$30 million of the US$43 mn budget.
The first round of the project brought computers to 300 “cluster” schools, with an additional 560 schools receiving computers in 2010. These schools were chosen to serve as resource centers for surrounding schools within a 30km radius. Each of these schools offered two separate computer classes: one designed for students and the other for teachers. Teachers from nearby schools could utilize cluster schools’ resources while benefitting from shared training and collaboration. In developing this initiative, the Ministry of Public Education conducted consultations and meetings with more than 60 schools and 180 focus groups comprised of local teachers, parents, and students. This process concluded that the project must strengthen teacher development, establish management support, and develop e-learning materials to achieve success. The ministry produced educational software and Internet-based learning materials. The cluster schools also received ICT and AV equipment. By 2010, more than 540,000 students directly benefited from the program. 90,000 teachers and staff from the cluster schools and select non-cluster schools received specialized training in the introduction of ICT into the curriculum.
This round of the project paid particular attention to disadvantaged students, with an estimated 165,000 students from poor and rural areas in grades five through nine benefiting directly. 70% of the cluster leader schools were located in these areas. The initiative also served as a test in tackling Internet connections in rural classrooms through the use of mobile and wireless technology. The schools served as community ICT facilities, with 25% of schools making the technology available to the public.BOX 6.3.50Asian Development Bank (Uzbekistan)
"Planned Project to Integrate ICT into Basic Education in Uzbekistan." Asian Development Bank, 10 Mar. 2005. Web. http://www.adb.org/news/planned-project-integrate-ict-basic-education-uzbekistan
"High Tech for Young Minds." Asian Development Bank, 7 June 2010. Web. http://www.adb.org/features/high-tech-young-minds
184.108.40.206 Public-Private Associations
These efforts comprise partnerships between public and private sector parties. In setting up these associations, it is very useful to attract private parties, whose contribution is related to the core business of the participant. For example, in the Digital Communities Program in Dublin, Ireland, Hewlett Packard provides computer hardware, Eircom (the telecommunications carrier) provisions broadband connectivity, Microsoft supplies software and training support, the Dublin Institute of technology supplies staff, premises and administrative facilities, the Dublin Inner City Partnership contributes funding for salaries, and the Dublin City Council provides the premises for all the centers.
Best practices for managing public-private partnerships include:
- Set up an overseeing structure, such as a Management Board that meets regularly to discuss and manage progress of the program. The Board should comprise a senior executive from each of the partner’s organizations, plus a representative from the community.
- Additionally, the community should have a coordinator from each center, all of whom meet regularly to discuss issues faced in running their centers.
In response to the World Bank’s Regional Communications Infrastructure Project (RCIP), the Government of Kenya developed a program in 2007 to create “digital villages” that would connect rural areas to the Internet. To make this program a reality, the Kenya ICT Board (KICTB) partnered with the Cisco Internet Business Solutions Group (IBSG) to develop an understanding of the issues involved. Throughout the course of two years, this team established a briefing of the key challenges and the solutions and tools needed to address them that it presented to the government. Through this work and the lessons learned, Cisco established a toolkit that it now uses to implement digital villages in other emerging markets.
As part of the RCIP, the World Bank suggested that Kenya serve as a “proof-of-concept” country to determine the feasibility of and justification for digital villages in similar regions of the world. This decision came as a result of plans to construct submarine fiber-optic cables, which would bring broadband connectivity to the country. Once the first of the submarine cables was complete, in 2008, the assessment of the project began.
While the government had developed the plan on its own, it ultimately turned to Cisco for assistance in large part because of the pressure the KICTB felt to construct the digital villages as quickly and cost efficiently as possible. As the first phase, Cisco identified key questions that the assessment should ask and answer:
- Which services did villagers want or need most?
- How would villagers use these services?
- How much capability did each village require?
- Which service model would be most successful in Kenya’s culture and environment?
- How would each digital village be set up and manned?
While Kenya experienced a great deal of private-sector interest in investing in these villages, Cisco recommended that the KICTB should first run a pilot program to understand fully the implications of the project. The board agreed that rolling out digital villages prior to testing the initial concepts could prove disastrous. Thus, the “Pilot Pasha Centers” (PPCs) – the Swahili word meaning “to inform” – were launched in January 2009. The committee selected 5 cyber cafes in rural areas across the country to serve as a test bed for the research that would build the model for large-scale deployment. By April 2010, these 5 PPCs featured 512K connectivity, Cisco WebEx online conferencing, surge protectors, and various ICT equipment. Cisco also provided content from its Connected Knowledge Centers program. Following an initial third-party evaluation, the KICTB identified the factors necessary in ensuring Pasha Center success:
- Physical infrastructure such as reliable power supply and connectivity
Marketing for awareness and education
Entrepreneurial initiative in customer service and experience
Innovative new uses of the Internet for business collaboration and “edutainment”
Training accreditation for various vocational e-learning courses
In response to these findings, Cisco developed tools to establish a business-planning model. To break even, Pasha Centers could generate an income of US$ 550 per month by offering the use of five computers for eight hours a day and charging one cent per minute of use. When looking at the cost of broadband, salaries, rent, etc., however, the US$ 12 balance was determined to be unsustainable and other options for income generation grew to include the selling of airtime, printing, binding, etc. and then expanded to incorporate services such as computer training, CD burning, and photocopying.
Following the PPC program, Cisco developed a toolkit for Pasha Center managers and used the knowledge gained to scale and roll out a larger digital villages program. Part of the toolkit offers recommendations in establishing public and private sector partnerships to support the mission. Kenya’s Ministry of ICT announced in March 2010 that service providers “Safaricom, Telkom Kenya, Zain Kenya, and Essar telecoms would be required to roll out the five digital villages each per constituency,” totaling 4,200 centers throughout the country. In 2012, the KICTB set aside a US$ 315,000 loan for 26 entrepreneurs looking to build pasha centers. In the first six months of that year alone, Kenya saw the creation of 63 new pasha centers, which provide approximately 30% of the country’s total ICT coverage. In order to qualify for the loan, entrepreneurs must undergo a training certification program.BOX 6.3.51Pasha Centers (Kenya)
Drury, Peter. Kenya’s Pasha Centres: Development Ground for Digital Villages. Rep. Cisco, Jan. 2011. Web. http://www.cisco.com/web/about/ac79/docs/case/Kenya-Pasha-Centres_Engagement_Overview_IBSG.pdf
Gichane, Charles. "Kenya: ICT Board Loans Sh27 Million for Pasha Centres." AllAfrica. N.p., 11 July 2012. Web. http://allafrica.com/stories/201207120031.html
In recent years, India’s economy has transformed as a result of the rapid growth seen in its IT sector. Paradoxically, by 2004, many of its citizens still lacked access to this technology, in large part due to geographic barriers. The nation’s rural villages, for instance, tended not to have basic telecommunications infrastructure. At this point, IBM partnered with Department of Information Technology (DIT) in West Bengal – an agriculture-dependent state in Eastern India with just under 100 million inhabitants – to implement the same IT workforce-training programs that the corporation had deployed in countries such as Venezuela, China, and Egypt.
At this point in time, the DIT already made commitments to increasing IT access and training within its education system at the middle school and high school levels to prepare students to enter the workforce with the skills necessary for IT-related careers. The initiative, known as the Computer Literacy and Training Program, was credited with the region’s sector growth and highest IT revenues in the country, but economists feared that the availability of skilled labor would not match the demand for such services for much longer. By investing in the training of all students, the government hoped to narrow the digital divide and also create the workforce supply necessary to strengthen its high-tech outsourcing economy.
To enhance the program, IBM Learning Solutions brought IT infrastructure, support, and management as well as education services to 400 schools in the state, which then aimed to reach more than 150,000 students within the first 3 years. Within each school, select teachers received IT training and certification so that they could act as instructors for students and other faculty members. Each school received 10 computers equipped with Intel processor servers and Red Hat Linux 8.0.
Those students interested in more high-level careers had access to advanced IT training. All instruction took place face-to-face in the local language across multiple platforms. Students took part in annual assessments and received formal completion certificates. IBM also offered orientation sessions for teachers who could continue the program following the end of the corporation’s contract with the Government of West Bengal. The program was sustained by charging students US$ 0.75 per month.
IBM mangers keep the project on track through mechanisms such as delivery milestones, user satisfaction, and performance parameters while ensuring an adherence to class schedules, machine uptimes, and annual exams. The managers also take responsibility for keeping the government informed through reports and briefs.
By 2009, the program trained nearly 6,200 teachers in 330 private and public schools across 19 districts and enrolled 160,000 students. Evaluations have attributed an increase not only in IT skills amongst students, but also in overall academic performance as well to the program.BOX 6.3.52Computer Literacy and Training Program (India)
"Government of West Bengal Conquers Digital Divide with Help from IBM." IBM Learning Solutions, Dec. 2004. Web. http://www-935.ibm.com/services/us/imc/pdf/cs-west-bengal.pdf
Survey of ICTs for Education in India and South Asia, Case Studies. Rep. PricewaterhouseCoopers, 2010. Web. http://www.infodev.org/en/Document.837.pdf
220.127.116.11 Private Efforts
While awareness efforts promoted by public sector are critical, they do not ensure automatic success. Administrations change due to electoral cycles and what could have been important for one party is not for another. Furthermore, public sector support does not necessarily mean unlimited funding. Finally, sometimes central governments are far removed from special groups to be targeted and, therefore, lack proper understanding of their specific needs.
In that context, support from the private sector might prove beneficial to improve sustainability of demand stimulation programs. For example, ZeroDivide is a philanthropic organization that seeks to increase digital inclusion in low income, mostly non-white communities in the United States. The program comprises a number of projects, such as training community members in the use of technology, increase household computer ownership through the provision of free or low-cost equipment, and develop community-focused content. The projects also included deploying Wi-Fi broadband networks and a community technology center for training and Internet access.
The Digital Inclusion project is a similar program. In this case the private non-profit organization partners with community organizations to distribute low-income households an ultra-portable laptop, high-speed broadband access, couple with digital literacy training, and content aimed at low-income households.
There are two types of benefits potentially derived from private efforts in broadband awareness. First, local companies can provide not only funding but also a good understanding of the needs of local groups. Secondly, multinational corporations can provide funding but also the possibility of cross-fertilizing experiences from one country to another in terms of “what works and what doesn’t”.
In early 2012, Google launched its “Good to Know” campaign focusing on educating consumers about web-related privacy issues and the ways they can make the experience safer and more secure. Topics include privacy and security tips, such as how to use two-step verification, the way to lock a public computer, and how to make sure website connections are secure. Google not only published a Good to Know book on its website, but also ran ads – all of which are accessible for download on the website - in newspapers and magazines, websites, and subway cars in the New York and Washington, D.C. metro areas. The website covers four main: “Stay safe online,” “Your data on the web,” “Your data on Google,” and “Manage your data.” It also features sections that focus on online safety for the family and offer resources such as explanations of technical jargon, links to related Google services, and a list of organizations dedicated to providing help and advice online.
While informative, the ads are written in an entertaining, light-hearted manner, but with enough condescension to make readers realize that they need to pay more attention to how they use the Internet. Google’s director of privacy described the campaign’s target audience – the casual Internet user who may not be as savvy when it comes to online safety as he or she should be - in a corporate blog post. “Does this person sound familiar?” she asked. “He can't be bothered to type a password into his phone every time he wants to play a game of Angry Birds. When he does need a password, maybe for his email or bank Website, he chooses one that's easy to remember like his sister's name-and he uses the same one for each Website he visits. For him, cookies come from the bakery, IP addresses are the locations of Intellectual Property and a correct Google search result is basically magic.”
Prior to its launch in the United States, Google first debuted the multi-million campaign in October 2011 in the United Kingdom through its partnership with the Citizens Advice Bureau.BOX 6.3.53Google "Good to Know" Campaign (United States)
Boulton, Clint. "Google 'Good to Know' Campaign Touts Web Privacy, Security." EWeek. N.p., 17 Jan. 2012. Web. http://www.eweek.com/c/a/Security/Google-Good-to-Know-Campaign-Touts-Web-Privacy-Security-706900/
"The Good to Know Campaign." Google. N.p., n.d. Web. http://www.google.com/goodtoknow/campaign