Digital inclusion — what's it all about?June 10th, 2019
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.
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?
- 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.
- 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.
- 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:
- doing research
- writing and creating
- reading and listening to stories, or
- connecting with others to share and learn from each other — in this good-news story, you'll see student volunteers at Kuranui College involved with the 'Digital Seniors' programme.
- 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:
- around the use of computers in schools:
- whether reading in print is better or worse than reading online:
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:
- The 2017 MBIE/DIA report Digital New Zealanders: The Pulse of Our Nation has served as a good basis for thinking about digital inclusion in Aotearoa New Zealand.
- This is complemented by InternetNZ's position paper: Solving Digital Divides Together.
- Out of the Maze: Building Digitally Inclusive Communities — a report into digital divides in communities, with recommendations.