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Full-time Report

Digital training

This photograph shows a group of people meeting in person, the photograph includes peer volunteers and ONSIDE staff.

Volunteers and trainers

Getting underway

Two digital trainers were employed in November 2019. The first three months of their tenure was spent developing resources and delivering a pilot training program to four groups, with 41 participants.

An evaluation of this pilot was carried out and the feedback used to tweak and refine the training.

In the interim, the arrival of the tablets for the participants was delayed.

They were manufactured in Wuhan province in China which is widely acknowledged as the epicentre of the pandemic and the whole region was put under strict lockdown by the Chinese government with factories and transport completely shut down for some weeks.

This shipping problem combined with the rest of the world also going into lockdown resulted in the decision to suspend the planned face-to-face training program.

The time during the delay was not wasted and was used to focus on staff development and upskilling on the computer tablets to be used in the training as well software programmes for accessibility and the needs of different disability groups.

Once the Lenovo computer tablets finally arrived in late May 2020, the trainers developed a bespoke training manual based specifically on the tablets after the decision to reset the course and deliver all training online.

The revised training plan was then delivered to the ONSIDE team via Zoom. It was important that staff understood the course content so they could help participants.

Training delivery

This photograph is a screenshot of a training course taking place using Zoom.  There are eleven people included each from the comfort of their own home.

Digital Inclusion Training using Zoom

The digital training was delivered over six sessions and covered the following topics:

Week one
Introduction to your tablet, using zoom features and how to download apps.
Week two
Emailing, searching the internet and google maps.
Week three
Avoiding scams and keeping safe online.
Week four
Online shopping.
Week five
Library services - accessing audio books, reading eBooks, free magazines, and newspapers online.
Week six
How to listen to podcasts, YouTube, catch up TV apps and using social media, how to use your tablet to learn new skills.

After listening to participant feedback, additional ‘optional’ sessions were offered to include topics such as:

  • Using the tablet to promote wellbeing.
  • Password management.
  • Google drive and google docs.
  • Canva online design app.
  • Additional online safety.
  • Completing the census online.

Training summary

  • ​2,325 participants completed six-weeks of digital training. This exceeded the 2,285 target – no mean feat considering the original number was set pre-pandemic.
  • The team of digital trainers from Supporting Communities aided by Community Navigators, Disability Health and Housing Officers and Peer Volunteers delivered training to 81 groups in Ireland (border counties) and 215 groups in Northern Ireland.
  • Supporting Communities delivered the majority of the training virtually using the online Zoom platform.
  • Towards the latter end of the project when restrictions eased, Supporting Communities delivered training sessions either face to face or through a combination of face to face and online (hybrid) sessions.
  • 98% of participants said they learned something new from the digital training, with a staggering 99% saying they would recommend the course to others.
  • Just 44 participants who started the training did not complete the programme, with the reasons unconnected to the training and given mainly as ill health and poor internet connectivity.
  • An extensive library of digital resources including video tutorials have been developed.
  • Feedback from participants has been incredibly positive, with some immensely powerful testimonies indicating the impact of the project. (Especially check the sections of this report ONSIDE in the words of participants and How the course helped participant wellbeing)
  • The success of the project is also down to the good working relationships forged between the ONSIDE partners.

Impact for participants

Ann on her ONSIDE experience

As well as the success in numerical factors, the project was a triumph in qualitative measures.

Evaluation of the project by participants on completion gave valuable positive feedback on the programme.

A massive 98 per cent said they learned something new, with 92 per cent saying they felt safer online.

A huge 91 per cent said they could better access libraries and audiobooks, with 85 per cent better able to use their device for entertainment.

The lowest score of the seven questions asked on the evaluation form was still an impressive 78 per cent saying they had improved their knowledge of shopping online – vital during the pandemic – which is an overwhelming success by any yardstick.

Overall the scores showed a huge positive response to the programme across every group in all areas.

Table showing evaluation as statistics.  The totals are as follows.  98% had learned something new; 87% improved knowledge of Zoom; 79% improved knowledge of emails; 92% improved knowledge of staying safe online; 78% improved knowledge of shopping online; 85% improved knowledge of using the tablet for entertainment; 91% improved knowledge of accessing libraries and audiobooks.

(i) this generic question was included in the evaluation survey from cohort E onwards
(*) The final evaluation questions were altered to seek feedback about potential future course/ project.

Future training

This photograph shows a group of women who are known as ‘The Monday Club’. They are sat around a table together with two Peer Volunteers. Each has a digital tablet in front of them and are and are being supported in digital training by the volunteers.

Face-to-face training with peer volunteers

Of those in the final cohort who replied to the altered questions about a possible future programme:

  • An overwhelming 79% stated they would consider participating in future training, building on the skills covered so far through the ONSIDE project
  • When asked about topics they would like to see included in a future initiative, participants made the following suggestions
    • Typing skills
    • Staying safe using social media
    • Digital Art
    • Sign language
    • Conversation skills
    • Relaxation & Mindfulness
    • Podcasts