by Barbara Blum, SDC
Published on: 27.01.14
Source: eigener Bericht
Nearly 100 stakeholders from the adult education, library, social and political sectors have attended the final conference of the multinational project "Digital Literacy 2.0" on 22 January 2014 in snowy Berlin. The project partners - libraries and network organisations from seven European countries - presented the outcomes of the project and discussed with the participants further possible uses of the project strategy and material in different educational contexts. In a concluding panel discussion involving information ethics specialist Prof. Rafael Capurro, vice president of the German Commission for UNESCO Dr. Verena Metze-Mangold and Barbara Lison of IFLA as panellists debated the project’s approach in view of open education and open access. The closing remarks were made by Peter Birch, head of the sectors ICT, Languages and Roma at the European Commission.
Isn’t everyone in Europe using the internet? 1 - No. According to figures from Eurostat, 24% of Europeans are still offliners. They are: mostly elderly people or people who are socially or educationally disadvantaged. As bigger and bigger portions of our private and public lives - including more and more communal and government services - shift into the digital realm this "digital gap" threatens to aggravate the social gap between those who are able and willing to further their education and participate in society, and those who are not. Unfortunately, those who are not are also the hardest to reach through awareness raising and training campaigns.
At the final conference of "Digital Literacy 2.0" the multinational team of project partners related to the participants the approach of the project to address that problem. It consists of having professionals and volunteers who already work with the target group act as facilitators of web skills - especially communicative web skills which allow users to actively improve their everyday lives with little effort. Multi-generation houses, retirement homes, community centres, social housing associations and libraries thus become non-formal learning settings.
The partners presented the learner-based "Digital Literacy 2.0" curriculum which was developed. Due to its modular and thereby extremely flexible structure it can be easily adapted to the individual needs of the respective learner. 2 The flexibility and effectiveness of the project approach and material was exemplified when the partners related to the participants through speeches, photos and videos the different ways in which they implemented the training campaign in their countries.
In interactive workshops concentrating on three different target groups/learning settings - "special target groups" like migrants and people affected by poverty, unemployment, domestic violence and other factors that potentially exclude them; senior citizens; and libraries - the conference participants had the opportunity to find out and put to the test how they could use the "Digital Literacy 2.0" strategy in their own work. In the resulting discussions a great emphasis was put on the potential barriers for the target group to use web applications (the cost of equipment and access, safety concerns, "technophobia" etc.) and how these could be overcome (by highlighting the relevance of digital media for the target group’s needs and interests, by putting them in control of their own learning process and by involving multipliers whom they already trust etc.). Many participants expressed the wish that the "Digital Literacy 2.0" material be available as open resources.
In the panel discussion, including such highly distinguished speakers as information ethics specialist Prof. Rafael Capurro, vice president of the German Commission for UNESCO Dr. Verena Metze-Mangold and Barbara Lison of the German committee of IFLA (International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions), the central topics - information ethics and effective ways of engaging the target group - were taken up. Susan Easton, project manager at the British "Digital Literacy 2.0" partner organisation NIACE, named as the key factors that prevent disadvantaged adults from digital inclusion "access", "media literacy" and "motivation". Whereas in most European countries the relevance of these factors has during the last fifteen years shifted from access to literacy and motivation, access is still the most relevant factor in developing countries, as Professor Capurro pointed out, who is currently involved in an information ethics campaign in Africa. Dr. Verena Metze-Mangold underlined the importance of equal access to information and education for all citizens and pointed out that it is an integral part of the UN human rights declaration. As a board member of the Digital Opportunities Foundation, which has coordinated the project, she confirmed the valuable contribution that "Digital Literacy 2.0" has made to the realisation of these rights. Barbara Lison emphasised the role of universal access to information in the IFLA Code of Ethics for Librarians and other Information Workers and said that librarians should consider themselves as guardians of this access. Dr. Metze-Mangold affirmed the "Digital Literacy 2.0" partner team in their plan to develop a strategy of making the project material available as Open Educational Resource (OER), pointing out UNESCO’s long-standing endorsement of OER.
In his closing remarks, Peter Birch, head of the ICT, languages and Roma sections at the European Commission, introduced "Erasmus +", the new funding programme of the EU which will replace the "Lifelong Learning Programme". Although the EU will overall spend less in the coming funding period, the funding of education will increase by 40%. Mr. Birch applauded the "Digital Literacy 2.0" partner consortium’s plans concerning an OER strategy and pointed out that in the "Erasmus +" programme open access to everything that is produced will be a requirement. He also took the opportunity to congratulate the "Digital Literacy 2.0" partner consortium on their highly relevant project approach, successful implementation and informative and collaborative final conference.