Face your online fears

Silver Surfers' DaySilver Surfers’ Day is coming up on the 21st May. Organised by Digital Unite and supported by UK online centres, among others, it’s a national campaign to highlight the opportunities the internet offers people in later life.

As a part of this year’s event, UK online centres are running a special campaign for people to face their online fears, after research reveals that fear is a major blocker to older people making the most of the net.

They say:

If you know someone who is not online why not support the ‘Face your online fears’ campaign and help them to overcome their worries about using the internet. There are ‘Face your online fears’ events happening at 700 UK online centres across England or why not help them to get started at home with our free ‘Face your online fears’ game which will give them an understanding of how to use a keyboard and mouse, online security, and even online shopping. It’s really easy and they could even win a laptop. To find a centre running an event or play the game visit: www.ukonlinecentres.com/faceyouronlinefears

As well as the online game, accessible from anywhere, 700 uk online centres will be supporting Silver Surfers’ Day and Face Your Online Fears.

Pass it on.

Helen Milner on open processes

I was delighted when UK online centres decided to make their bid for the Digital Mentor fund from CLG, inspired by the community initiative to take a policy initiative by the scruff of the neck over at DigitalMentor.org.

Now the bids are in, all that those who are involved can do is sit and wait. In the meantime, though, Helen has provided us with her learning points from the process. I have summarised them below – to read the detail you need to visit the post, where you’ll also find a nice video taken by David Wilcox.

  1. Partnership is a much better way to do things
  2. It takes loads of time to develop ideas in this kind of forum
  3. Social media helped me to put aside prejudices and listen to all comments with an open mind and a receptiveness to learn
  4. It’s really hard to balance open debate and to provide structure for a constructive discussion
  5. Not everyone likes using social media to develop bids
  6. The journey’s been fun but arriving will be better

Collaborating on Digital Mentors with Voicebox

I am enjoying helping with the Voicebox bid for the CLG digital mentor project: those involved like Helen, Anne and Ben from UK online centres are so enthusiastic and eager for the open, collaborative approach they are taking to succeed.

Here’s a video of Helen Milner talking about the Voicebox bid:

As part of the tendering process, all interested parties had to submit an expression of their interest to CLG to advance to the next stage. Voicebox has done just that, and what’s more, they have posted the content of their EoI on their blog! Great work!

Also on the blog, Voicebox are keen for people to post their thoughts on digital mentoring, whether in their big picture thread, or by adding thoughts about any of the work packages that have been identified so far. This can be done by leaving comments on existing posts – which quite a few people have started to do already – or by contacting the team using admin@voice-box.org.uk to write a whole new post.

Here’s a second video, which features, from left to right, Paul Henderson of Ruralnet, me, and Nick Booth. We’re talking somewhat disruptively about whether digital mentors would be better off without CLGs money… it’s all David Wilcox‘s fault, who was encouraging us to be naughty.

Anyway, part of the reason I included this video is for the benefit of readers of this blog who haven’t met me yet and who assume I am significantly older than I am. It happens a lot.

UK Online Centres want to collaborate!

I have just come back from a meetup in Birmingham of folk interested in the Digital Mentor concept and how we can all collaborate on a bid. I got to meet some great people for the first time, and catch up with some familiar faces.

Also present was Ben Brown from UK Online Centres, who had travelled from Bristol for the meeting. Great effort on his part, and also to UKOC for having the gumption to send one of their people to a pub in Birmingham to chat about working together with a bunch of strangers!

Anne Faulkner from OKOC has now posted a great comment on the Digital Mentor blog, sketching out how they see an open, collaborative bid, in co-operation with other organisations like Citizens Online and Ruralnet, working.

UK online centres and Citizens Online know this approach isn’t the easy option, but we figured that if we want to deliver a project about partnership and online collaboration, we should try to put it into practice as part of the bidding process. We think we need both breadth and depth in this project, and we’re interested in developing a framework which enables a range of organisations and individuals to share their expertise.

I’m looking forward to seeing how this develops, and getting involved where I can!

Digital mentors picking up speed

Things are starting to pick up with the digital mentors initiative, which is a part of the digital inclusion programme supported by the department for Communities and Local Government.

There is now the option to express an interest in tendering for the money to run the pilots, which is a reasonably healthy £900k. To help support this process, there is a workshop being held at BERR on Victoria Street, London on 19th November between 3 and 5pm.

Further developments have seen UK Online Centres, one of the obvious candidates to put in a bid, reach out to the community being developed at www.digitalmentor.org through a blog post by the Managing Director of UKOC, Helen Milner. This is great news – rather than use their own website to push out messages, UKOC are going where the people are to enable collaboration on their bid. Helen wrote:

We all obviously share a passion to ensure that the digital mentor programme is a success, and that it embraces the best of community development and technological innovation. I’m keen to discuss ideas for the programme here on this blog so that we can use open innovation principles to develop a bid together.

Do come to the blog, the wiki and the email list and help out in any way you can.

David Wilcox as ever has his finger on the pulse, and has produced an excellent summary post over at Social Reporter, including pointing out the exciting news that Ruralnet are also keen to be involved. He writes:

UK Online Centres have the local presence, experience and capacity to head up a bid, so I hope they are willing to do that. Ruralnet also have a strong track record through their work with Net:Gain and DirectSupport. Together with independent trainers, consultants and activists we can put together a strong core team, with an oppen invitation to others to join.

There seems to be some real coming together over this: an acknowledgement that a) no single organisation or individual has all the right answers to meet this challenge; and b) that this is too important a project to be allowed to go wrong.

By working together, we can make sure this succeeds.