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In the context of the Queensland Government’s digital inclusion agenda, Queensland University of Technology’s Digital Media Research Centre was commissioned to create two tools for delivery and evaluation of digital programs in the community.
The first tool – the Digital Ability Self-Assessment Tool – was developed for participants to gain insight into the digital capabilities they possess that help them to function and thrive every day. This tool can be used by facilitators to start conversations with participants about their digital ability and to identify new ways that technology might be integrated into their personal and community life.
The second tool – the Digital Ability Program Evaluation Tool – was developed for facilitators and their organisations to help them demonstrate the value of their programs in their communities. It contains an Impact Statement Template, and a Digital Ability Program Checklist, which will assist Queensland Government to assess the strengths and weaknesses of digital ability programs, and to assist making decisions about which programs to support, and encourage in both financial and non-financial ways.
These outputs were informed by a rigorous review of academic literature and practice-oriented resources in the field of digital inclusion. In undertaking this review, we tracked the evolution of related concepts (from digital literacy to digital competence), highlighting the important shift in discourse from an emphasis on technical skills per se to socially embedded capabilities.
Both tools embody the notion that digital ability underpins social participation. That is, digital ability is important for individuals and communities because, in the digital age, technology mediates our interactions with the world and each other. It is hoped that these tools will give participants, facilitators, and organisations insight into existing practices, and, together with our recommendations for further developing the digital inclusion ecosystem, give direction to future efforts and resourcing.