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Saturday, 25 July 2009

The Forgotten Learners

Last Friday, July 24th, I attended the NIACE meeting in Leicester. It was only supposed to be a half-day seminar but wow! the amount of detail covered could have easily been spread over a two-day residential course.

Of late we have been considering the case for helping digitally deprived children in the UK. But Rachel Thompson's presentation really set me thinking. One of her slides in particular raised the issue of who are not as yet included in a 'Digital Britain'. So, apart from disadvantaged kids, who else should we be considering as 'digitally deprived'?

  1. Adults aged 55+
  2. People in rural areas
  3. People in areas of multiple deprivation
  4. C2DEs (ie lower potential employability)
  5. The disabled and those with learning difficulties
  6. The unemployed and low-income households
  7. People affected by mental ill-health
  8. Homeless/vulnerably housed adults
  9. Itinerant workers and services personnel
  10. 'Delegators' (ie those who pass on any ICT work to others)
  11. Those detained in Prison (both staff and inmates)
It soon became obvious that we need a wide variety of approaches to meet the needs of such people, all 17 million of them. But, consistent with all of these groups is the potential that an appropriately scaffolded eFolio would be of exceptional help to them.

Another point that came across, most strongly, was that of motivation. Where a person sees little need to log on and communicate with others, where they can see no practical purpose for using many of our common applications, when they see no need to save time or money we have a problem.

Those of us who provide support and training really need to advertise and communicate the ways in which ICT can improve the quality of life of each of the groups listed above. We need to identify how best to reach out to each of those groups and to design materials which they can understand and respond to. We need to invest time and effort in order to attract these people to the services we want to provide. Perhaps, also, we need to look at our delivery styles and provide attractive and challenging materials which are more relevant to the learners' needs.

This goes for eFolio as much as any other product. For each group as listed above, the eFolio can be that means of communication, of involvement of ownership and motivation which is the basis of any learning environment.

If people reading this have any desire to reach out to any of the above groups then please let me help by providing a simple, low-cost, eFolio tool, appropriate to their needs.

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