Academic journal article Research in Learning Technology

Training in Basic Internet Skills for Special Target Groups in Non-Formal Educational Settings - Conclusions from Three Pilot Projects

Academic journal article Research in Learning Technology

Training in Basic Internet Skills for Special Target Groups in Non-Formal Educational Settings - Conclusions from Three Pilot Projects

Article excerpt


Since the first representative survey in 2001, the number of people having access to the Internet in Germany has continuously grown from 37% to 74.7% in 2011.2 This process of Digital Inclusion is accompanied and supported by a variety of measures particularly addressing those societal groups that face both barriers in access to the Internet and in requiring digital literacy. In the last 10 years, the focus of Digital Inclusion measures and programmes has shifted. Providing access to the Internet was most relevant in the beginning, now the provision of training for digital literacy is of the highest relevance. We assume that the acquisition of digital literacy skills is affected negatively by two kinds of barriers - barriers that hamper the access of people to education in general, and more specifically those barriers regarding the use of technology in education.

Fig 1

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Figure 1. Saulgrub project.

Fig 2

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Figure 2. Phoenix project.

Fig 3

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Figure 3. Bremen project.1

From 2009 to 2011, Stiftung Digitale Chancen (SDC) accompanied and evaluated three pilot projects with different Digital Inclusion approaches specifically addressing women in the low-wage sector, young migrants from Russia and visually impaired elderly people in non-formal education settings.3 With methodologies adapted to the different projects, SDC evaluated the training to find out which aspects of the training motivate and encourage the learning process with regard to the targets groups needs, and which aspects possibly hinder the motivation of the participants. In addition, it was the purpose of the evaluation to find out how the concepts could be transferred to different areas and other target groups.

This article aims to contribute towards the accumulation of knowledge about the effects of a precise adaptation of training towards the target group's needs. In addition, attention is paid to the role of the trainer and potential similarities in the demographic background of trainer and students. The results of the evaluation of the pilot projects suggest that similarities in the background of the trainers could be a supportive component to the learning process in non-formal educational settings.4

The article first gives an introduction to the current situation of Digital Inclusion in Germany. In the second section, the approach, the evaluation and first results of the three pilot projects are presented. In the third section, the evaluation results are analysed with regard to the common patterns found, and conclusions are then outlined.

Digital Inclusion of special target groups

In spring 2011, 74.7% of the German population aged 14 years and older were Internet users or so-called on-liners5 - that is, they had used the Internet at least once during the last 12 months according to the (N)ONLINER Atlas, an annual survey focussing on Digital Inclusion. Although there had been a continuous growth in the number of Internet users in the past few years, in several target groups the number of users was disproportionate to their share of the overall population.

The (N)ONLINER Atlas surveys the Internet-user population with regard to demographic attributes like age, gender, level of education and income annually. The survey also states regional differences in the German states ("Länder") according to various demographic differences. Comprising a sample of around 30,000 people, it is representative of the German population. Nonetheless, the survey does not provide statistics about specific target groups in detail. Although in some years in depth research was undertaken regarding the status of employment of the interviewed persons, it was not possible to gain a full overview of smaller groups of employees in different economic sectors. …

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