telecentre-europe workshop "what next for the 292 million offline europeans"

The workshop was organized by telecentre-europe and when I came in I saw many known faces of people that are already member of telecentre-europe, but there were some new faces from Sweden, China, Israel, Croatia and Portugal.

Ian Clifford, co-chair of telecentre-europe was leading the session and first showed a video that was also showed during the telecentre-europe launch yesterday: the 292 millions

Then the big question of the workshop was launched: What next for the 292 million that will be excluded from technology and how does the changing world of technology (towards web 2.0) will affect them? What will happen if they are excluded from web 2.0, does it matter? Are technologies becoming more complex?

In a nutshell, this was what was said during the workshop were I was "blogging live":

Most people seem to miss information. But how do they come aware that they are missing something? Mostly through television, the reference to websites when they want to know more.

Old people try to catch up with the new generations, there are terms they don't know about, for example write down on a paper the word "you tube", to find out what it's about.

People miss out how to look for information, and the possibility for e-banking for example.

There are also privacy issues involved, not only with online banking but also with web 2.0 services that collect a lot of personal data. Privacy and security issues are becoming a bigger problem than accessibility. Even some 45-50 year old managers are "afraid to connect".

What is basic computer literacy? Privacy and security are not issues that are dealt with in those programs. Also media literacy: understand what it means to be part of a social network, to engage in a blog or even share pictures on the internet. Our job is to educate people on the fact that today private fotos can be shown on the internet very quickly.

But coming back to the awareness, how do they become aware of what they are missing? Discovering how new technologies can give solution to a need is what motivates people to take up a course. Needs (or motivations) could be: communicating for free and save money, finding new jobs, staying connected with friends and family, knowing how to help their children, peace building (across communities in Croatia e.g.), to be able to work for home, to research your history, to find a partner, prestige (not to feel left out),... But some motivations are not coming from the personal field, some people are forced to follow a course by their job.

Listing these motivations is important for campaigning and convincing the excluded to join a course. But often marketing campaigns don't work, mouth-by-mouth publicity seems to be the publicity that works the best.

Next to motivations, what are the barrieres? What stops people of being connected?

Security, fear to break something, lack of accessibility (cost of purchase, cost of internet, distance to a learning centre), fear of cost of maintenance of the machines, lack of local content and local languages, gender stereotypes. These barrieres mostly can be overcome by pointing to role models in their own community, their own daily world.

Then there is a lack of pedagogical and social skills of techies. Patience is one of the most important skills of a trainer.

(my battery went off and I couldn't blog untill the end of the workshop: maybe those present can add the rest in the comments here?)

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Comment by Adrian Popa on December 4, 2008 at 20:10
With regard to awareness or rather the lack of it (you-don't-know-what-you're-missing kind of situation), I also liked one other argument which I heard earlier on at the conference: the financial one. For instance, banking costs are generally higher on the street than online. So this may well be an incentive for someone (including the elderly) to make the leap into the digital world. I prefer to pay 23 cents a month to avoid the higher commission for transactions and save a trip down town.

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