Research – the University of Auckland and digital inclusion
Ciara Arnot Community Adivsor •
Christmas Eve 2020 saw the Community Team calling successful grant applicants with good news. This included 3 researchers at the University of Auckland who, spanning the Schools of Information Systems, Nursing and Population Health, are all now busy working to contribute to digital inclusion research in very different ways.
Increasing Internet Access for Cochlear Implant Recipients, Dr Holly Teagle, University of Auckland, $25,000
The Hearing House is a charity for children and adults who are deaf and hard of hearing, and their families. It is a community centre, allied with the University of Auckland, enabling them to develop materials and research outputs. The Hearing House serves around 1000 people as diverse as the New Zealand population at large.
Deafness can affect individuals of every cultural, ethnic and economic background. Many of the modern solutions to hearing loss rely on the Internet. These state of the art technologies are life-changing for individuals who have navigated the world in silence and/or with distorted perception of sound.
However, as the incidence of hearing loss grows with aging, many who need help are those who did not grow up with the Internet and lack the confidence and skill to take full advantage of their personal technologies and harness all that Internet access has to offer.
Since 1998 The Hearing House has been providing enduring support to their clients. As recipients of a 2020 grant funding from InternetNZ, The Hearing House is working to extend access and increase independent use of the Internet through skill building. They are busy developing materials and delivering training to their clients and families who support them.
This training will increase confidence among their clients to use the Internet for personal communication, to connect with online support groups, online hearing device trouble-shooting, and mediate delivery of rehabilitative listening therapy for adults and children and their parents.
For clinicians, this means being able to serve clients via the Internet efficiently and effectively. For clients, this means better quality of life through access to therapy, music, entertainment and news through a streamed medium. To make this possible for all, their clients need to be Internet savvy and have the tools to engage online.
Digital Inclusion for Maori and Non-Maori Seniors, Dr Kathryn Peri, University of Auckland, $26,540
COVID-19 lockdown found many health and social providers in Aotearoa using tele-health to deliver psychosocial programmes for seniors with cognitive impairment and mate wareware (dementia). Seniors with cognitive impairment generally have poor digital capabilities, due to a lack of accessible training to engage in digital technology.
Working together with Rotorua Library and Dementia Lakes, the University of Auckland are using InternetNZ funding to train a cohort of ‘digital mentors’ to provide support, build trust and confidence in seniors with cognitive impairment. For this vulnerable group, picking up new Internet skills takes longer and requires more patience and perseverance then can often be provided in a classroom setting.
This initiative will build on the outcomes and findings from the Stepping Out to Grow Stepping UP programme, which found that teaching people digital literacy skills can be difficult. It found that facilitation skills and content knowledge are two separate aspects of teaching.
The team will apply principles of kaupapa Māori research in conducting the research, to ensure that results are situated within the wider political and cultural context, and use Māori engagement methods and co-design activities to capture data around how the digital divide currently impacts this group.
The aim is to develop a ‘Train the Trainer’ manual with speciﬁc educational skills and techniques for those with cognitive impairment. The digital mentor training workshop will focus on providing sessions to develop specialised facilitation skills, with regards to participants of different skill levels, different backgrounds, participants whose first language may not be English, participants who may not be literate, and participants who have limited education. Alongside this will be the skills required to engage and maintain engagement with older adults with memory problems during the digital mentor programme delivery.
As trainers learn communication skills to scaﬀold digital learning processes, this will advance digital inclusion within seniors with cognitive impairment, building ongoing digital resilience.
Digital skill needs of displaced workers, Dr Lesley Gardner, University of Auckland, $20,000
The pace of digital transformation has accelerated and with the added pressure of COVID-19 our economy and our workforce need to be resilient, now more than ever. Point 4 of our five point plan highlighted the need for digital skills for displaced workers and our small businesses.
With funding from InternetNZ to further digital inclusion, this study proposes an evaluation of displaced workforce participants and their evaluation of digital tools and the training made available to them.
In doing this research aims to identify and evaluate the digital skills necessary for people to be prepared and work-ready and for businesses to identify the wide range of awareness and training to improve the accessibility of websites and mobile apps; digital banking; customer services; digital marketing and social media awareness.
The goal is to evaluate the current state of training available for displaced workers, in terms of the service provision, fit for purpose and shortfalls to facilitate good training outcomes.
The evidence collected will be used to highlight existing programs and encourage the implementation of culturally sensitive improvements to these training processes. This change is necessary to inform practice and to enable digitally displaced people to access the digital skills they need to work and function in today’s economy.
The project will identify issues and assist public policy in this area which over time will positively affect the economy and society.
Each year InternetNZ gives out community grants to provide support for community-led initiatives that extend the availability, use, and benefit of the Internet and its associated technologies and applications in Aotearoa.
These initiatives were recipients of funding in 2020.