Ireland Communities and society, Technology

Bridging the digital divide: Wicklow County Council’s One-to-One Digital project

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Wicklow County Council

Wicklow County Council was honoured at the Chambers Ireland Excellence in Local Government Awards 2023, winning the award for best Age-Friendly Initiative for its One-to-One Digital project.

In today’s digitally-driven world, the ability to navigate the online realm has become increasingly essential. Yet, for many adults, mastering the intricacies of digital technology can feel like an insurmountable challenge. Recognising this, Wicklow County Council Library Service embarked on an innovative initiative to bridge the digital divide: the One-to-One Digital Tuition for Adults at Wicklow Town Library.

The idea was simple yet powerful: pairing eager adult learners with knowledgeable Transition Year students from East Glendalough School, who had been trained by 121 Digital to become adept digital tutors. These students, under the guidance of their teachers and library staff, served as mentors, patiently guiding individuals in the use of their personal laptops, tablets, or smartphones.

At the heart of this initiative lay a commitment to empowering individuals who may lack the confidence or expertise to fully benefit from their digital devices. Whether accessing online services, navigating social media, or sending emails, these one-on-one sessions offered personalised support tailored to each learner’s needs.

The benefits extended beyond the learners themselves. For the students involved, this experience was a complete role change, they were now tutors and no longer in the classroom. Serving as tutors not only boosted their confidence but also enhanced their CVs, as they gained valuable teaching experience and honed their presentation skills. One standout example is a student who developed a presentation on combating misinformation and scams—a testament to the broader educational impact of this initiative.

Cathaoirleach of Wicklow County Council, Cllr Aoife Flynn Kennedy, said, “It is great to see initiatives such as this being recognised nationwide. It is clear the programme has reinforced the libraries role as a welcoming community hub, fostering a sense of belonging and connectivity.”

Speaking about the award recently, Chief Executive of Wicklow County Council, Emer O’Gorman, said “At Wicklow County Council, we believe in the power of collaboration and innovation to drive positive change within our communities. The partnership between Wicklow Town Library, East Glendalough School, and 121 Digital exemplifies this, showcasing how collective efforts can break down barriers and empower individuals to embrace the opportunities afforded by technology.”

Wicklow County Librarian, Margaret Birchall said “It is interesting how opportunities present themselves when libraries are open to collaboration – as advocates for lifelong learning; our foremost commitment is to equip every member of our community with the necessary tools and assistance to excel. This effective programme demonstrates our dedication to guiding and supporting people as they navigate the challenging digital landscape.|

Building on the success of One-to-One Digital, Wicklow County Library now offers regular face-to-face digital support sessions, ensuring ongoing accessibility to digital literacy resources. As this service continues to evolve, it is poised to become an integral part of the library’s offer, enriching the lives of countless individuals across County Wicklow.

With a carefully crafted lesson plan drafted by library staff, this training can be replicated in branches throughout the county, and the potential for expansion is vast. By embedding digital literacy initiatives within the fabric of library services, Wicklow County Council is laying the groundwork for a more inclusive and digitally fluent community.

In essence, the model introduced by One-to-One Digital Tuition exemplified the transformative power of collaboration and education. By harnessing the collective expertise of students, teachers, and library staff, Wicklow Town Library not only empowered individuals to navigate the digital landscape but also fostered a culture of lifelong learning and empowerment.

To find out more about Wicklow County Council’s One-to-One Digital Tuition initiative, get in touch with Margaret Birchall.



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