Edition 2011

Digital Champions – two models for harnessing the capabilities of volunteer digital mentors

The presentation will showcase two different models of training and enabling Digital Champions that are proving effective in the UK. Our approach follows the strategy of the UK Government’s Race Online campaign in developing volunteer digital champions with skills to mentor others in their communities and workplaces – whilst at the same time pursuing a learning journey themselves. Both projects are pioneering new approaches to addressing digital literacy and skills, and we are seeking an opportunity to share and debate our findings

The first model is the ‘Making IT Personal: Joining the DOTs’ scheme operating in South Yorkshire, UK. This programme has developed an effective model for enabling digitally literate individuals to mentor and support people within their communities and to enter onto a learning ladder, becoming Digital Outreach Trainers (DOTs). The essence of the approach is that it works with people where they are – they don’t have to go anywhere to volunteer their services or to train to be a mentor, they just provide evidence of their activity in order to gain recognition and approval. They also belong to an online community and can access learning opportunities. The programme recognises that digital exclusion can sit alongside other forms of social exclusion and provides learning materials that integrate basic training in digital literacy with learning about reading literacy, numeracy and employability, in a strongly contextualised local context.

The second model is the Digital Activist Inclusion Network (DAIN) operating in East Midlands, UK. DAIN aims to promote digital inclusion by encouraging people to use technology with the help of volunteers, called Digital Activists. The DAIN project targets unemployed people who are able to commit at least three hours a week to train as Digital Activists. The project offers its volunteers a short training course in how to become a Digital Activist (20 hours), as well as full support and guidance whilst gaining experience of working in communities. This includes access to a pool of resources such as laptops and digital cameras.

Both projects are funded by the European Social Fund.


Susan Eaton, UK National Institute of Adult and Continuing Education

Martin Cantor, Project Director, Making IT Personal: Joining the DOTs project

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