We're working closely with Tinder Foundation to try and help bring millions of people online, and help them see the benefit of the mobile web. Read on for more...

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If you’re reading this – whether you’re on a mobile phone, tablet or desktop computer – you’re clearly well versed with the ways of the internet, and probably consider yourself an advocate for all of the amazing things it can do. But for millions of people in the UK, that which we take for granted is an unknown and sometimes scary entity.

 

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The government realises that getting more people online is important, so it’s tasked a group of UK organisations and charities to make a change. Vodafone is among that list, and we’ve started a partnership with Tinder Foundation to help get more people connected. We’ve been speaking to Greg Watson at the charity to find out more…

Doing good with digital

“We’re a not-for-profit that helps people and organisations do good things with digital technology,” Greg explains. “Tinder Foundation works across the UK, managing the UK online centres network, which is a group of around 5,000 centres located in the heart of communities. These centres aim to empower people through the use of technology. One of our key objectives is to bridge the ‘digital divide’ – we want to help people be inspired by the internet and what it can do for them.”

The ‘digital divide’ is the term for the disparity between those who are connected to the internet and those who aren’t, and even in 2014 it’s a bigger gap than you might think:

“There are 9.5 million people in the UK who don’t have basic online,” says Greg. It’s a big problem, and one that we’re keen to help fix.” So where does Vodafone fit into this?

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“Vodafone and Tinder Foundation are both part of the Digital Inclusion Charter: a group of 50 organisations who have pledged to work together to help bridge the digital divide. Using our UK online centres network, we’re working with Vodafone to help spread the benefits of mobile internet, as well as educating people on how to use it.

“It gives groups like the elderly the chance to access and use mobile internet…”

“We’re doing a couple of things to achieve that,” Greg explains. “The first is that we’ve distributed Vodafone devices to our centres. We’re working with 20 centres at the moment, each of which has been given a smartphone, a tablet and two Vodafone Mobile WiFi units.

“With this kit, people at each centre can engage with local communities, and with people who can’t afford devices themselves or who wouldn’t otherwise know how to use them. It gives groups like the elderly the chance to access and use mobile internet, to learn how it works and to see the benefits of it. These are really informal sessions that cover different areas depending on what each person is interested in. The idea is that people can then go home and feel more confident when it comes to technology.”

Getting connected

With the help of Vodafone-powered kit, Tinder Foundation is doing good across the UK. But how can you measure success when it comes to getting people online?

“We’re putting together an evaluation framework to monitor the success, and we’ll be publishing a report on this in the New Year. We’re getting both qualitative and quantitative data on how these sessions are going,” Greg explains. “For quantitative data, we’re collating answers to questions such as ‘what devices are you using?’ and ‘to what extent has your session improved your ability to access the various tools you need?’, but a lot of the data is qualitative.”

 

 

“Our qualitative data is all about the impact of how access to, and information about, the mobile internet has changed someone’s life, improved their skills and altered how they would describe themselves as an internet user. Over the next three months we’ll be measuring the difference in these responses to get stories on how people’s lives have benefitted.

“The other thing we’re working on with Vodafone is the creation of an online course about mobile data called Smart Internet. The course will be hosted on our Learn My Way website, which supports around 10,000 people each week, and will be aimed at those with no or low digital skills.”

“I think that one of the big barriers when it comes to bridging that digital divide is that not everyone is online at home.”

For those of us who use the web every day, the benefits of being connected are obvious, but why do Greg and Tinder Foundation believe it’s difficult for some people to make that leap?

“I think that one of the big barriers when it comes to bridging that digital divide is that not everyone is online at home.

“Our centres work in some of the most deprived areas in the country, where a lot of people are moving from landlines to mobile phones to save money, so we want to show that the ability to access the internet without a landline is completely possible, and can be really beneficial to people who are both at home and out and about.

“It’s all about helping people to access the internet more freely,” he says in closing. “And the devices with devices and data from Vodafone, along with the support of the UK online centre, can provide that crucial first step.”

Stay tuned… We’ll bring you more from our work with Tinder Foundation in the near future, but to find out more you can head to their website here. If you’re new to the world of the mobile web and want a no nonsense introduction, check out our free guide to smartphones here.