Digital inclusion — what's it all about?

Motivation. Access. Skills. Trust. These are key dimensions of digital inclusion. Find out what you can do to remove barriers to digital inclusion in your school library.

Word 'ENTER' in lights in front of a stage with red curtains
Photo by Clem Onojeghuo. Unsplash. License to use.

A Digital Inclusion Blueprint

The recently published Digital Inclusion Blueprint sets out the government’s vision 'that all of us have what we need to participate in, contribute to, and benefit from the digital world.'

It identifies a range of barriers and challenges to digital inclusion and outlines the government’s role to lead, connect, support, and deliver to ensure everyone in Aotearoa/New Zealand is digitally included.

Four dimensions of digital inclusion

The Digital Inclusion Blueprint focuses on four interdependent elements that determine if a person is digitally included:

  • Motivation — understanding how the internet and digital technology can help us connect, learn, or access opportunities, and consequently having a meaningful purpose to engage with the digital world.
  • Access — having access to digital devices, services, software, and content that meet our needs at a cost we can afford, and being able to connect to the internet where you work, live, and play.
  • Skills — having the know-how to use the internet and digital technology in ways that are appropriate and beneficial for each of us.
  • Trust — having trust in the internet and online services and having the digital literacy to manage personal information and understand and avoid scams, harmful communication, and misleading information.

School libraries, teachers, and digital inclusion

Here are some of the many ways that school library staff and others are helping people in communities throughout Aotearoa New Zealand benefit from being part of the digital world.

How might your own school library lead, support, or deliver services that enable digital inclusion? How could you help connect your school community with the services others provide?

Motivation

  • Engaging with students and the school community online, for example, sharing information and news about the library and the school.
  • Making the library's resources (stories, information, or tools) available online wherever possible.
  • Providing library systems that let students manage their own borrowing by checking due dates for loans, renewing loans, or placing requests for books they'd like to borrow.
  • Offering links to additional support for learners — the library website can be the 'go-to' place:
    • for information to support learning (such as tips and advice for studying or writing)
    • to encourage personal reading, or
    • to help students pursue their own interests.

Access

  • Providing devices for students to use, for example, Chromebooks or iPads.
  • Offering centralised services such as printing, or having maker technologies available.
  • Supporting people to use digital technology and information at school and at home, for example, helping students access the school WiFi, or connecting families to the internet at home by promoting the Spark Jump programme.

Skills

  • Modelling appropriate use of digital technology, particularly being safe online, and ethical use of information.
  • Teaching specific digital skills, such as useful search techniques or curating information — From information overload to streamlined searching gives an example.
  • Supporting people to use new tools and online platforms for all sorts of things:

Trust

  • Teaching digital literacy skills, embedding information literacy and digital literacy into learning across the curriculum.
  • Displaying information to help keep students safe online, such as these posters from the PPTA.
  • Raising awareness of important issues — not just for students but for families too, for example, implementing a programme such as Netsafe Schools or Connecting Families.
  • Having clear guidelines about how you use your students' library data and personal information so that their privacy is protected.

Getting the digital-analogue balance right

As digital technology becomes woven more and more into modern life, there are the inevitable debates about the pros and cons of it, and these play out in many ways, for example:

It's important to get the balance right. This is something that libraries do well by:

  • offering collections that are rich with stories and information in print and digital formats
  • creating spaces that allow for technology use and unplugged learning and socialising
  • encouraging students to use digital technologies and information appropriately, and to explore alternatives too
  • engaging with students online, and always welcoming them in person.

Find out more

If you'd like to learn more about some ways your school library can improve digital inclusion, these recent reports delve deeper into the topic of digital inclusion in New Zealand:

By Miriam Tuohy

Miriam is the Senior Specialist (School Library Development) for Services to Schools.

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Togi A Tunupopo August 19th at 3:37PM

This is great work Miriam Tuohy. Thank you so much for sharing these valuable research tools for all to see and read, and hopefully they can use it well for the betterment of their libraries and library situation. I am from Samoa and is involved with libraries and library development and I find your Blog and Library website extremely helpful.