UK Government

Department for Business, Innovation and Skills: Mandelson Launches New Online Basics Courses For Adults

Press Release   •   Jan 12, 2010 10:39 GMT

New IT courses to give thousands of adults the skills and confidence they need to go online will be piloted from today, Business Secretary Lord Mandelson announced at the Learning and Technology World Forum.

The development of Online basics by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, UK online centres and Becta forms part of the Government’s response to Baroness Estelle Morris’s Review of ICT User Skills, published in June 2009. The report recommended support for the 11.6m adults in England of all ages and all levels of education who do not have basic IT skills to help them get to grips with technology. This complements the Government’s national roll-out of Home Access for children in years three to nine (aged around seven to thirteen) also announced today by the Department of Children, Schools and Families.

Online basics will give beginners the skills needed to get going online.

People can do the short, free courses at their own pace, either at home if they have a computer and the internet or at a local UK online centre by logging on to www.onlinebasics.co.uk.

Business Secretary Lord Mandelson said:

“Everyone should be a confident user of the internet if they are to participate fully in today’s digital society. Being online brings a range of personal benefits, including financial savings, educational attainment, improved salary prospects and independent living for older people.

"Online basics will mean more people accessing vital IT skills, enhancing their working lives and making digital literacy as important a skill as basic literacy and numeracy. We’re also investing £30m extra in UK online centres to support digital participation, with the aim of getting more than one million people online in the next three years.”

Online basics include five key modules covering the basics – using a mouse and keyboard, looking at the internet and keeping safe online. There is also guidance for people supporting those using the course: from tutors in learning centres to family members helping someone at home. Over the next three months, Online basics will be piloted in UK online centres in Barnsley, Oldham, Gloucester, Devon and London. Becta will evaluate the courses, expected to be rolled out across England in September 2010.

Today Lord Mandelson also announced a doubling in size of the joint Becta and Learning and Skills Council FE Technology Exemplar Network, with 67 new members. This best practice network for colleges and training providers offers them a forum to exchange experiences, knowledge and practical know-how. In total, two million students and 50,000 Further Education teachers and trainers will benefit through the network.

Geoff Russell, Chief Executive of the Learning and Skills Council, said:

“The highly successful Technology Exemplar Network has promoted the unique, added value of technology in learning. In recognition of this the LSC will be continuing its support for the Network as it enters this important, second phase.

“The Exemplar Network itself is a fine example of peer-to-peer knowledge cascade and effective practice transfer, which will continue to drive further improvements in provider capability and learner achievement and retention in our sector.

“Additionally, the launch of Online Basics will also help equip adults with the skills and confidence they need to use modern technology, to prepare them for gaining and sustaining employment and being able to compete in today’s digital economy.” (DN: awaiting clearance from GR)

Stephen Crowne, Chief Executive of Becta, said:

“The Network was set up at the request of the Further Education sector – a real tribute to its commitment to innovate and improve. Members have set up mini-networks, they regularly swap research and expertise and they join together to meet common challenges such as how best to use social networking and how to safeguard students online. By working together in the Network, colleges and training providers are learning how to apply technology more efficiently and are getting better results and value for money.”

Also today, Becta launched its national prospectus for technology-focused continuing professional development for Further Education teachers and trainers. This is the first prospectus of its kind and will help ensure teachers and trainers have the most up-to-date skills and knowledge of technology so that learners can benefit.

Notes to editors

1.                  Online basics is a new offer from the myguide service, a free, simple introduction to computer and internet skills. There are over 25 more myguide courses about emailing, online shopping, digital photography and more. As an “open use” tool, myguide can be used by individuals, colleges and training and adult learning providers.

2.                  Baroness Morris’s independent Review of ICT User Skills recommended support for the 11.6m adults in England without basic IT skills – in particular the over-65s, the socially excluded and those with few or no qualifications. For further information, see:  http://nds.coi.gov.uk/clientmicrosite/content/detail.aspx?NewsAreaId=2&ReleaseID=403527&SubjectId=2&clientid=431. For a link to the report, see: The Independent Review of ICT User Skills can be found at: http://www.dius.gov.uk/%7E/media/3F79A51589404CFDB62F3DA0DEBA69A1.ashx

3.                  The Government’s Digital Britain report welcomed Baroness Morris’s recommendations and the White Paper, Putting the Frontline First: Smarter Government, announced £30m to be invested in UK online centres to support the development of the national plan for digital participation to get more than one million people online in the next three years. It also outlined the Government’s commitment to ensuring public services can be delivered digitally in ways that are more convenient for people and businesses.

4.                  The Learning and Technology World Forum is one of the largest gatherings of education and skills ministers in the world and the only forum which brings together key leaders to share their ideas and experiences on the strategy, policy and delivery of learning in all its contexts. It is now seen as the premier international event on learning technologies.

5.                  Becta leads the national drive to inspire and lead the effective and innovative use of technology throughout learning. For further information on Becta’s Technology Exemplar Network, or for more information on the e-CPD prospectus, please contact the Becta press office on 02476 797146.

Department for Business, Innovation & Skills

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) is building a dynamic and competitive UK economy by: creating the conditions for business success; promoting innovation, enterprise and science; and giving everyone the skills and opportunities to succeed. To achieve this it will foster world-class universities and promote an open global economy. BIS - Investing in our future.

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