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BT wants young people to teach adults how to use the internet

Clare McDonald

BT has set up a project calling on young people to teach adults with no computing skills how to use the internet.

Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) aims to bring the internet to 92% of homes by 2017. However, according to the Office for National Statistics, 6.7 million adults have never used the internet. The BT Digital Champions scheme aims to train these how to use technology such as PCs, tablets, mobile devices and software.

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Anna Easton, programme director of BT connected society, said: “It’s hard to imagine but there are seven million people in the UK that have never been online and many of them are older or unemployed. 

"School children today have a natural affinity with technology and we want to encourage them to share their skills with the people in their local communities who stand to gain most.”

More than 20,000 school children have taken part in the project. The main aim is to give adults who have never used the internet before confidence in surfing online, but it is also encouraging students to follow up in an ICT career.

Theresa Evans, a teacher at St Leonards Academy, where the scheme is in place, said: “BT Digital Champions has increased the confidence and resilience of our learners and now more students are looking at future careers in ICT & computing. 

"We are also seeing a greater interest in our GCSE computing courses and more questions being asked about how to continue into further education.”

More than half (57%) of children aged between three and five can operate at least one app on a smartphone or tablet, according a survey by AVG technologies.

Although children display a high aptitude for technology, there are only a small amount of graduates to leave school with the appropriate skills to enter the IT profession.

Where the programme has been implemented in schools, teachers have seen a noticeable difference in student’s interest in taking IT further in their education.

A teacher at a participant school, Elizabeth Nakimbugwe from Prospect School in Reading, said: “The introduction of IT should happen at home and the classroom to enhance it. Every child should be taught how to use IT from a very young age, not only how to use it but also how to programme.”

There has been speculation that IT should be introduced to children at a young age, with the government promoting cyber security careers in schools for children as young as 11.

As of September 2014, the national curriculum will require computing to be taught in schools from the ages of five to 16, instead of ICT, so children can be introduced to computational thinking from an early age.

Paul Donlon, a teacher at participant school Garforth Academy in Leeds, said: “Hopefully they realise from [the BT digital champions programme] that they have a skill set that not everyone has. This may inspire them in the future to develop their skills at a higher level."

 


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