Digital technology is fast becoming part of our daily lives, whether that’s using an app to buy our bus tickets or online banking to make a payment, digital is making it easier and quicker to get things done. However, this isn’t the case for everyone. There are members of the community who are unable to access the technology, don’t have the skills or lack the confidence to make use of this new technology.
One of the ways that the Welsh Government is looking to engage with these groups of people is through the digital inclusion volunteering scheme. To give you a better flavour of what the scheme is all about, we’ll be featuring a series of posts from volunteers sharing their experiences.
The case of the drumming monkey
Type of volunteering: Lego Coding Club
Target Audience: Parents and children of all ages
When I heard about the digital volunteering opportunity I instantly recognised that this is something a lot of us already do – whether it’s helping a colleague to use Microsoft tools or showing your grandmother how to send an email. I’ve always been confident with using technology – I’ll give it a go, what’s the worst that could happen?! But I know that for a lot of people, this is something scary, a journey into the unknown where a mouse isn’t really a mouse and that icon that we all see so clearly as a video recorder actually looks like a hot water bottle (in the opinion of my 89 year old grandmother!).
For me, this volunteering opportunity was a chance to help people to see the opportunities available through technology and also it was a chance to up-skill myself so that I could use these skills at home with my family.
I attended a one-day training course with Digital Communities Wales. The training shows you some great new tools, gives you confidence to help people and also gets you thinking about how you describe what you’re doing. How would you describe what button to click to go “home” to someone who has no idea what a cursor or home button is? Technology is such a big part of all of our worlds that we forget that not everyone will know what we mean and sometimes you need to think of a different way to explain things.
I’m no computer wizard so I was a bit dubious about volunteering at the Lego Coding Club, but as it’s targeted towards children how hard could it be?! Also, the mention of Lego drew me in – I had to find out what this was about!
The club encourages children and their families to use laptops to create moving Lego models. The children follow instructions on the laptop to build something e.g. a drumming monkey. Having followed the instructions and built their monkey, they can connect it to a laptop and “programme” it to move.
Luckily for me, the programming part is simple, but it’s a great introduction to get children interested in this type of work and when they see their drumming monkey move and make sounds it brings it all to life. For the children, they’re just playing with Lego and it’s really cool when it moves, but in reality, they’re programming their own models, building their confidence in using technology and showing their parents the value of digital technology and skills.
Want to know more?
Other digital community sessions are available e.g. working clubs to help people apply for jobs online or digital drop in sessions teaching people how to use a tablet or to send e-mails. If you, or someone you know, would be interested in taking advantage of these opportunities, you can find details on the Get Online in Wales website.
Likewise, if you have been inspired by this post and are interested in becoming a volunteer, you can find out more on the Digital Communities Wales website.
Post by Meleri Jones, Office of the Chief Digital Officer, Welsh Government