Trying to make sense

Well, here’s me again trying to be really good and keep to my Friday deadline 🙂 I was just saying on my other blog that I’ve really enjoyed myself this week. That’s despite the fact that I’m still slogging my way through pulling the data off the Annual Staff Digital Literacy Survey.

I say Annual but this is the first one I’ve done – part of the reason for doing this first one was just to see what sort of questions we should be asking or rather should I say how we should be asking them. Apart from the demographic questions, all the others are aimed at discovering how people use/don’t use digital technologies and how embedded these technologies are in their lives; not what programmes they have mastered.

I haven’t analysed all the data yet but so far there have been some small but interesting findings. For example the large majority of people own at least two computers at home. In this survey, it apparently makes no difference whether you are male, female, part-time, full-time, young or old nearly everyone had two or more computers at home. One person in the whole survey didn’t have a computer at home and amongst male academics, none had only one computer. So at last, can we get past the concept that we can’t do online stuff because people won’t have a computer at home! Yes, yes I know there are arguments about Broadband but surely this demonstrates that there will always be problems with people having the “latest” technologies – at one time you didn’t get a fountain pen before you went to high school! What are you going to do? Wait until these technologies are so mature that everyone else has started on the next big thing?

I’m also fascinated by the way people apparently don’t make best use of the technologies they do use. If you take away texting and phone calls, mobile phones get used for very little at all. People have Sky boxes with their televisions but only a minority of people record their programmes in advance so they can watch them when they please.

I keep trying to make sense out of what I’m reading in the results. Am I not asking the right questions, am I not asking the questions in the right way? Or is it true, are people really unaware of how much power they have at their fingertips?

This survey, amongst other things going on in the Uni, will inform how we take the development of Digital Literacy forward year on year. I would like to think that these findings are going to help people, that I will be able to find the sense, or the non-sense, that will point us in the right direction. However, I’m absolutely sure of one thing this Survey will do, it will identify exactly where our first efforts in developing Digital Literacy will need to be focused.

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