Friday, March 11, 2011

PL 5/11: Digital immigrants

Filed under: research, statistics — plinius @ 11:14 am

Even if web use is common, it is not universal.

In Norway, somewhere between ten and fifteen percent of the adult population – perhaps half a million people – are not internet users. The three main non-user groups are older people (50+), workers with low education – and immigrants.

Immigrants that lack web access find it hard to participate fully in Norwegian society.  Data skills help them find jobs in the first place – and also to remain employed. They can also use the web to stay in touch with their home countries and extended families. Web phones (Skype) allows free communication. Without web skills, isolated individuals and families remain isolated.

Digital training supports the social integration of immigrants in Norway

In Norway, the lack of data equipment and skills is not – basically – a matter of poverty. TVs are universal – though more expensive. The real barrier is lack of training. In this paper I analyze a project designed to provide practical web-oriented ICT training through libraries. The project VOLARE – which stands for Adult Learning with the Library as an Arena – was carried out in the city of Drammen. Here we  offered free, individual training sessions every week throughout the spring 2008.

After Oslo, Drammen is the city with the greatest proportion of immigrants in Norway – close to twenty percent. We offered this service both at the main library – and in a small suburb dominated by immigrants from Asia. In the main library we taught in Norwegian and English. In the suburb we recruited instructors who also taught in Turkish and Urdu.

The training was not based on a standardised format. Instead, we offered to help people with the specific problems they wanted to solve then and there. The paper, which is based on logs kept by the instructors, documents what we have learned about the needs and interests expressed by this specific multicultural population – and suggests a model for helping non-digital immigrants cross the barrier that stops them from joining ordinary, group-orinted training courses.

The paper summarized above was accepted by IFLA for its conference in Puerto Rico

Tord Høivik, who designed and directed the VOLARE project, also participated as an instructor. He is an associate professor in library and information science at Oslo University College (Høgskolen i Oslo – HiO). He is a professional statistician and sociologist, with broad international experience in Africa, Latin America and Asia.

Added May 4

The paper is now available in Google Docs: Digital training supports the social integration of immigrants in Norway


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