One Digital helps to bring tangible improvements to people’s lives through the programme’s Digital Champion support

An independent evaluation of the national digital participation programme, One Digital, has shown that the programme has successfully helped to bring about tangible improvements to people’s lives through its provision of Digital Champion support.

One Digital is a unique collaboration between six diverse and distinct organisations; Age UK, AbilityNet, Affinity Sutton, Citizens Online, Digital Unite and Scottish Council of Voluntary Organisations (SCVO).

Launched in January 2016 and supported with a £2million investment by the Big Lottery Fund the one-year Test and Learn programme spanned the nations (England, Scotland and Wales) and a diverse population.

Each Partner delivered a specific project within the One Digital wrapper, representing a different society group who face digital inclusion barriers but all Partner projects used consistently trained and supported Digital Champions as the golden thread.

Between January and November 2016 over 1,100 Digital Champion reached more than 11,000 people with digital skills across the UK.

The Test and Learn programme was independently evaluated by Sara Dunn Associates, who looked at cross-collaboration issues and activities: the use of Digital Champion models, the shared use of Digital Champion support services, and the collaboration process itself. It also evaluated outcomes for Digital Champions and beneficiaries.

The Executive Summary from the evaluation is available here and key findings include:

1.    The establishment of a cohort of over 1,000 Digital Champions with a common and active interest in supporting digital inclusion is a significant output from the One Digital collaboration, and a notable asset for the digital inclusion sector overall.

2.    Digital Champions – particularly those with less confidence or experience – improved their own skills in helping others use digital technologies as a result of participating in One Digital.

3.    Over 80 percent of beneficiaries surveyed reported increased confidence in their basic digital skills, better understanding of the benefits digital technologies can offer, and increased motivation to use them.

4.    There was clear evidence of tangible improvements in people’s lives resulting from their increased digital skills, particularly in the employment and social spheres and evidence of improved overall wellbeing for beneficiaries; some said that improving their digital skills had been life-changing.

5.    The One Digital collaboration forged a strong collective identity in a short period, sharing learning about digital champion approaches and opening up channels of dialogue, both informal and formal, which would not otherwise have existed.

6.    The collaboration stimulated reflection within their organisations which impacted on strategic understanding as well as operational approaches to digital inclusion work.

7.    Three Digital Champion models, each with its own strengths and weaknesses, were used by the One Digital partners; professional digital champions, volunteer community digital champions, and digital champions ‘embedded’ in third party organisations.

8.    The existence of a Digital Champions Network had the effect of delineating the digital champion role, giving it visibility and credibility.

Evaluator Sara Dunn said:

“One Digital is an unusual and ambitious collaboration, bringing together diverse partners to promote basic digital skills, to ensure that as many people and organisations as possible can benefit from the opportunities of the digital age.

 “Our year-long research found clear evidence that the Digital Champions had increased capability to support beneficiaries, and that beneficiaries had better digital skills as a result

“We also found good evidence of knowledge exchange and beneficial shared learning between One Digital partners as a result of their innovative collaborative approach.”

Visit the One Digital website for more information.