About the Inquiry

News at 14 April 2014: the Final Report of the Inquiry will be published on 30 April 2014. See update for more information or if you would like to attend the launch event.

The Digital Participation Committee of the Royal Society of Edinburgh is undertaking an Inquiry into Digital Participation in Scotland. The aim of this Inquiry is to ensure that digital technologies help to narrow the social divide, rather than widen it, and that the opportunities for economic development presented by digital technologies can be realised across Scotland.

The ways we communicate, work, consume, grow our economy, are active in our communities, deliver and access public services, community planning, education and healthcare, are evolving. Digital information and communications technologies are changing the ways we live, work and play, and the pace of change will continue. But many individuals, businesses, and communities are not engaged.

Our Inquiry will focus on communities–including social, economic, and cultural communities–and ask three key questions:

  • How can digital technologies benefit our communities?
  • What do communities, businesses and organisations need to be able to fully participate in this changing society?
  • How can we ensure that digital technologies help to narrow the social divide, rather than widen it, and that the economic opportunities they provide are best realised to support sustainable, flourishing communities across Scotland?

The benefits of digital participation for individuals, communities, public bodies, businesses and voluntary organisations, are well-documented. Our Inquiry is taking stock of social, economic and cultural communities across Scotland that are not yet enjoying these benefits to the full and engaging with these communities to understand the barriers to participation. We will make recommendations to government and its private and third sector parties on how to overcome these barriers and how to ensure that the increasingly central role digital technology plays in society contributes to a narrowing of social divides.

On this website you will find further information about the Inquiry and opportunities to add your own voice and experience. If you would like to read more detail please take a look at the Strands of Inquiry page which also explains what we aim to deliver as a result of this work.

If you would like to contact the Inquiry team please email: digiscot@royalsoced.org.uk.

If you would like to see who has provided support for this inquiry please take a look at our Support for the Inquiry page.

3 responses to “About the Inquiry

  1. Response to enquiry questions 6, 7 and 8.

    To quote C. Stern (2003) ” To prosper in the Digital Age, people must become masters of information.”

    6. The risks associated with digital participation is the assumptions made that all that is needed is for computers etc. / technology to be accessible / available and digital participation will take place. Without the necessary skills and competencies meaningful participation will not take place. By necessary skills and competences I mean not just digital literacy but information literacy.

    Information literacy is a prerequisite for participating effectively in the Information Society and is part of the basic human right of lifelong learning. It encompasses everything we do and our approach must therefore be holistic. It:
    * comprises the competencies to recognise information needs and to locate, evaluate, apply and create information within cultural and social contexts;
    * is crucial to the competitive advantage of individuals, enterprises (especially small and medium enterprises), regions and nations;
    *provides the key to effective access, use and creation of content to support economic development, education, health and human services, and all other aspects of contemporary societies, and thereby provides the vital foundation for fulfilling the goals of the Millennium Declaration and the World Summit on the Information Society; and
    * extends beyond current technologies to encompass learning, critical thinking and interpretative skills across professional boundaries and empowers individuals and communities.
    * is too important to be left to any one institution, agency or profession; collaboration is essential.
    * needs to be approached within the context of people’s cultural values, societal groups and personal information needs.
    * is concerned with empowering people regardless of modes of information access and delivery.

    Achievement of information literacy goals require flexible strategies to meet the needs of diverse communities and individuals.
    Alexandria High-Level Colloquium on Information Literacy and Lifelong Learning (2005) http://archive.ifla.org/III/wsis/High-Level-Colloquium.pdf

    7. How can such risks be addressed?
    We need to reinforce, support and build upon the information / critical literacy within the Curriculum for Excellence. This does not happen by osmosis.
    We need to recognise and support the skills and competences including information literacy that librarians in schools, colleges, universities, workplaces, health institutions and organisations and public libraries have and support them in their work with pupils, students, colleagues and the general public so everyone has these skills and competencies.
    There is a lot of good practice taking place in Scotland (see http://www.therightinformation.org/temp-exemplars/)

    8. What prevents people from using digital technologies and the internet?
    As stated above not everyone has the skills and competencies to use digital technology and the Internet and the library and information profession has a key role to play.

    Whilst the Internet and World Wide Web has a lot of information it is not the only source of information. Information is available via all media types and formats – electronic, people and printed information sources. Individuals need to be aware of these choices and choose which of these sources are accessible to them and are relevant, suitable, available, written at the right level for them and reliable / from a source that they can trust. The Internet is full of information that needs to be evaluated particularly its authenticity and reliability. We all need the right information and the information literacy skills and competencies so that we know when and why we need information, where to find it, and how to evaluate it, use and communicate it be able to use it and inform our thinking and decision making.

    As Bill Johnston (2013) says we are in an Information Culture and our citizens need to be information literate.

    • Christine,

      Huge thanks for your responses to the Inquiry, as with all comments received on the blog we will ensure that these are included in the evidence considered by the Inquiry. We really appreciate your contribution.

      - Nicola.

      • Thank you Nicola, looking forward to the outcome.

        Regards Christine Christine Irving To prosper in the Digital Age, people must become masters of information. C. Stern (2003)

        **

        *Information Skills for a 21st Century Scotland http://www.therightinformation.org/ *

        On 4 July 2013 14:13, Spreading the Benefit of Digital Participation

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