Community-led design for Get Online Week 2021

Our Research and Data Officer Lauren Howe discusses how our community partners have helped to shape this year's Get Online Week campaign.

At Good Things Foundation, we believe that the support we provide should be inclusive to all, driven by the people we seek to support, and continually adapting to the evolving digital landscape. Leading up to this year’s Get Online Week, we are putting this belief into practice.

This October Get Online Week returns, a campaign that sees thousands of local events take place hosted by community organisations. These events give people the chance to find the support they need to improve their digital skills and get motivated to learn more.

When designing this year’s Get Online Week, we knew it was important to draw on the experiences and expertise of community organisations, as well as the lived experience of the people they support. To do this we partnered with BT — a Get Online Week sponsor — to take an ‘Experts By Experience’ approach to this year’s campaign planning. Our ‘Experts by Experience’ approach involved collaborating with community partners working at grassroots level to design support for Get Online Week, rather than taking a top-down approach which assumes the best methods of support.

So, what have we learned? 

We worked with 5 community partners in the Online Centres Network as our ‘Experts by Experience’ and the people they support.

Our first workshop covered the aspirations of our experts for Get Online Week 2021, and the impact the campaign has on their organisation and learners. We learned that the campaign provides them with the opportunity to:

  • Extend their vital services to more people, enabling them to assist more to become digitally included.
  • Reconnect with people they have lost contact with over lockdown.
  • Establish partnerships with other, local organisations, to provide high-quality and holistic methods of support to people. 

During testing of Get Online Week materials, we found the theme of ‘connection’ and developing digital skills to perform social interaction online resonated well with our experts and the people they support. This is so crucial to Get Online Week 2021 as the isolation of the pandemic will have disproportionately impacted those that are digitally excluded. 

We know that fears surrounding online safety are a key deterrent to people wanting to get online. Scams, identity fraud, online bullying, sharing of personal data, online banking and misinformation were all concerns for both our experts and the people they support. Therefore for Get Online Week 2021 we aim to boost confidence surrounding online safety through materials such as online safety resources and courses on Learn My Way. We really want to make using technology safely a key digital skill. One of our experts has found the following analogy helpful to explain the significance of online safety to their learners:

‘Online safety is like locking up your house. You must close all the doors and windows, have different locks and keys so that one key does not open everything, use a different key to your neighbour, and change your locks if your house gets broken into. Free wifi should be treated like free water, when you’re abroad it might not be treated, so you should always be cautious of using it’ 

– BT Expert By Experience

In our third workshop, our experts gave feedback on how we should describe the positive impact that digital inclusion can have on a person’s life. They agreed it is important to describe a person’s entire journey, including their background, their challenges, the steps they took to overcome them and how support provided by community partners helped them to reach their goals. During Get Online Week, storytelling will be essential in demonstrating the value of the work that community organisations do. The stories from our experts will be used to exemplify the importance of developing digital skills and being online.

And what have I learned? 

Taking part in the Experts by Experience workshops has enabled me to see how the experiences of community organisations informs Good Things Foundation’s support and resources. For me, the Experts by Experience approach has reinforced how essential it is to gather insights from people who have the greatest understanding of people’s needs and goals, and crucially, the significance of being an evidence-driven organisation.

Where next? 

We look forward to learning more from our experts as we complete the next workshops and evaluate Get Online Week.

Get Online Week 2021 is held 18-24 October, to find out more information visit our website:

Lauren Howe

Research and Data Officer

Lauren supports the Research and Data Insights Team to evaluate Good Things' services through a qualitative lens. By evaluating and gathering insights on the efficacy of our services, we work to ensure the support given to partners and beneficiaries empowers them to achieve both their needs and goals.