My American Adventures Part 2

Howdy y’all! I’m now well into my American Adventures, and suffice to say I’m having a great time meeting some fantastic people, and talking about the work UK online centres does. You all  know I’m a fan of stats and I’ve picked up some great ones so far – including that 100 million Americans don’t have home broadband, and 66 million Americans are digitally illiterate –  more than the total population of the UK – which show just how important the issue of digital skills is.

One of the most interesting meetings I’ve had so far was with Susan Hildreth, Director of the Institute of Museums and Library Services, who was appointed by President Obama himself. I ran a seminar with her and her colleagues about our model in the UK, and very excitingly we talked about how our Online basics course could be used across libraries all across the US to help get people online.

I’ve also been learning about Connect 2 Compete, a digital literacy training programme that promotes broadband and digital skills training to improve communities. Unsurprisingly, there are a lot of parallels between them and the work we do in the UK. And the similarities don’t stop there. The US and UK have a lot in common in terms of the demographics of offline people, and the barriers they face to getting online, and so there is a lot of expertise we can share with them – which I’m really keen to do.

The importance of broadband access is something that’s at the top of their agenda, and although they know that matching skills to access is really important, there’s still more of a focus on pipes than people, a situation we’ve often been in in the UK. You’ll know I’m a bit advocate of digital skills, and I’m sure we can find a way to work with IMLS, Connect 2 Compete, and other American partners, so we can help promote and support digital inclusion over the pond as well as back at home.

I’ll aim to blog again the next couple of days about my trip to Facebook, and some other exciting meetings I’ve got planned in so do keep an eye out. Yesterday, I spoke at the University of Berkeley about the similarities (and differences) between digital skills in the US and the UK, so I’ll share these slides on Slideshare (where this whole story started!) as soon as I can.

One thought on “My American Adventures Part 2

  1. The USA is right to focus on the pipes. Its a waste of time trying to get people online if all they have is dial up. Pages won’t load. You can enthuse about the benefits and savings of being online until you are blue in the face, but until connectivity is ubiquitous you are just wasting your time. And our taxpayers money.Just sayin.Have a nice trip, and safe journey home.

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