Basic Online Skills = Basic Digital Skills

19 Jan 2015


This week, Go ON UK announced that they have produced an updated Basic Digital Skills definition, building on the previous Basic Online Skills matrix.

Go ON consulted widely with their partners and other key players in the digital inclusion world, and as a part of the research team here at Good Things Foundation, I’ve been involved in some of the discussions around the updates to the matrix (along with other stakeholders such as London School of Economics, Citizens Online, and the London Business School). It’s fascinating to see how each organisation has identified that the very basic skills an individual requires in order to be digitally included have changed, even in the brief time since the previous incarnation was put together.

The previous matrix was a table of skills and actions forming the basis of a common definition for use across the sector, listing what competencies are required of individuals and organisations in order for them to be regarded as truly digitally included. Managing information, communicating, and transacting were the backbone of the old definition; now this new definition has expanded to include two new important skills - problem solving and creating.

Here at Good Things Foundation we know that the basic online skills and what it means to be a digitally included citizen are constantly evolving as the technological world evolves - that’s why the courses on Learn My Way, Good Things Foundation’s online learning platform, are constantly growing and changing in response to the needs of individuals.

Good Things Foundation already map Learn My Way course packages against the Basic Online Skills to ensure that our learners are gaining the skills needed. We also conduct our own research based on extensive feedback from our network of UK online centres, the very people on the ground who are teaching and engaging with digitally excluded people every day, who tell us where the frequent gaps in knowledge are. This year we’ve added a Universal Credit guide (to sit alongside the Universal Jobmatch guide) as well as new courses on Using Email and a brand new digital health course about using GP services online. We’ll be looking at these new courses (and any future courses) to see where they fit against the new Basic Digital Skills definition.

The Basic Digital Skills Definition

So why do we need a standardised definition of digital inclusion? Well, first of all it’s imperative that we share a common understanding of what basic digital skills are needed.

There are many different organisations working and researching in the area of digital inclusion and it makes the discourse much clearer for us all if we’re using the same set of criteria. For those of us working in partnership it’s even more important to be singing from the same hymn sheet on exactly what it is that we’re aiming to achieve.

It’s also incredibly useful when trying to measure the impact that our work has. A clearer definition means much more robust results when measuring the impact of our projects - something that digital inclusion researchers like myself will all welcome!

You can view the Basics Digital Skills Definition here, along with Go ON UK’s rationale on the move to Basic Digital Skills.

Go ON UK are inviting feedback on the new Basic Digital Skills definition. If you have any comments you can contact Go ON UK through their website.