Digital inclusion, volunteering and cost-effective technology

Our WEA colleagues Steve Stocks and Andria Birch (@infostocksy and @andiabirch) were tweeting yesterday from an event that celebrated “Innovation, Transnationality and Mainstreaming” projects that had been supported by the European Social Fund. Steve was showcasing how people who have been involved in a Digital Activists’ Inclusion Network (DAIN) project are using Raspberry Pi technology for cost-effective digital inclusion.

DAIN is an exciting volunteer project working across the East Midlands. The project has promoted digital inclusion by encouraging people to use technology with the help of volunteers (Digital Activists). DAIN won a NIACE Adult Learners’ Week Award in 2012 and used the associated funding to develop online learning materials for more digital activists to use. They also used the prize money to pay for Raspberry Pi computers for 12 DAIN students who enrolled and completed 9 hours of course content to support their further Pi learning.

The Raspberry Pi is a credit-card sized computer that plugs into a TV and a keyboard. People can use it for many of the things that a desktop PC does, such as spreadsheets, word-processing and games. It also plays high-definition video and is used in education to encourage computer programming.

Andria Birch spreading the word about DAIN

Andria Birch spreading the word about DAIN

Andria , the DAIN project manager, paid tribute to Steve for, “applying huge IT experience and giving back to the local community through DAIN volunteering.” Steve has gone on to become a WEA tutor and started teaching a Raspberry Pi course which started in Nottingham this month. The course had its own twitter hashtag. Other Digital activists have also progressed into more formal teaching, including several who have gone on to work for the WEA.

Steve Stocks with Mike Attwell (WEA Director for East & West Midlands)

Steve Stocks with Mike Attwell (WEA Director for East & West Midlands)

The first phase of ESF funding is now finished but it’s clear that the work has only just begun. Digital activists in Northamptonshire and Chesterfield have set up new WEA groups for student and volunteers. Nottingham Digital Activists are developing 3 new organisations to support digital inclusion and colleagues are now working on a 5-year digital inclusion strategy and aiming to expand the work and aims of DAIN across the WEA so that more people can cross the digital divide together.

The DAIN project’s web archive is at:

About Ann Walker
Adult education and lifelong learning specialist and campaigner. LinkedIn:

9 Responses to Digital inclusion, volunteering and cost-effective technology

  1. Andria Birch says:

    Thank you for this post Ann, it is great that WEA senior management are so supportive of projects such as DAIN which aim to challenge digital and social exclusion. Yesterday was a very positive and informative event showcasing the range of issues being addressed by the 32 ESF funded ITM (Innovation Transnational and Mainstreaming) projects. It was a great surprise and honour for DAIN to be nominated as one of the 3 projects considered to be most innovative in the programme. Our congratulations go to the MITP DOTs project on their well deserved win. DOTs were able to secure match funding for an extension which has enabled them to go the extra mile with mainstreaming and dissemination and their resources are well worth a look for anyone working in the field of digital inclusion.

    Steve Stocks was as always an impressive ambassador for DAIN and the WEA and did us proud sharing his own journey whilst acknowledging the hard work of the rest of the team of Digital Activists (DAs) still committed to challenging digital exclusion. The use of the Raspberry Pi is a brilliant potential new hook and form of technology which may be of interest and more accessible to some people due to low cost and the fact that it was designed a piece of technology to support learning about and access to technology. It certainly stimulated lots of discussion and interest yesterday! The great thing about the DAIN model is that it is not technology specific and can move with the rapidly changing world of hardware and software. We look forward to continuing this work over the coming months and years as we see challenging digital exclusion as one of the key strands within the WEA’s work to challenge social exclusion.

    The DAIN Project website is being archived, however for more up to date discussions and posts the DAIN blog will be maintained with updates on digital inclusion and the work of DAs. It also is a living archive of the amazing achievements and work of DAs and can be found at

  2. Andria Birch says:

    Reblogged this on Digital Activist's Blog and commented:
    Great post made today about DAIN on Ann Walker’s blog:

  3. joaniepthemadhatter says:

    Reblogged this on JoanieP The Mad Hatters' Corner and commented:
    I must have a chat with Sarah, our local WEA tutor about Raspberry Pi! This is a subject I am very interested in and would like to explore it further!

  4. Still decompressing from an incredible and very busy week, but, already planning an exciting, educational, developmental and engaging 2013.

    Completion of the initial deployment of the WEA’s first introduction to the Raspberry Pi training course occurred on monday at the WEA’s East Midlands regional head quarters in Nottingham, just a few days before the Pi’s first birthday ! The Pi potentially being a great digital inclusion enabler, primarily due to cost – “I’m a PC and I’m £500 – I’m a MAC and I’m £1000 – I’m a Raspberry Pi and I’m virtually FREE – ROFL !” :-

    followed on wednesday by presenting the DAIN five year digital inclusion journey, at the ESF ITM conference, where we represented well over 100 professionally trained digital community activists, that diligently and professionally gave their resources altruistically to help over at least 1000 digitally excluded individuals cross the intimidating, daunting and confusing digital divide. As I was personally quoted at the conference “We made it so my MUM could understand it !”

    I would personally like to thank everyone involved in the processes that continue to make the above so successful, but special thanks must go to Albert’s brainchild – the Worker’s Education Association (and it’s many INCREDIBLE altruistic volunteers) that has been successful for well over 100 years in helping to up skill the under privileged, helping them ascend the incredibly lofty and perilous pyramid identified by Maslow

    Ubuntu –


  5. The following is a short 1′ 30″ video I have put together for the about the Digital Divide

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