Offline adults set to get online

Thousands of offline adults are set to take their first steps with computers and the internet by learning Online basics with a new, free course designed especially for beginners.

Launched by Business Secretary Lord Mandelson at the recent Learning and Technology World Forum, the Online basics course has been created as part of the government's response to Baroness Estelle Morris' Review of ICT User Skills, published in June 2009. The report recommended a single channel to help the 15 million offline adults in the UK get to grips with technology, and BIS, Becta and UK online centres have developed Online basics as a response.

Lord Mandelson said: "Everyone should be a confident user of the internet if they are to participate fully in today's digital society. Being online brings a range of personal benefits, including financial savings, educational attainment, improved salary prospects and independent living for older people.

"Online basics will mean more people accessing vital IT skills, enhancing their working lives and making digital literacy as important a skill as basic literacy and numeracy. We're also investing £30m extra in UK online centres to support digital participation, with the aim of getting more than one million people online in the next three years."

Hosted as part of the myguide service - - Online basics includes five key modules covering the basics people need to know to get going online, from keyboard and mouse skills through to email, internet searching, and how to stay safe on the internet.

Alongside the five modules, there's also guidance for people supporting someone to use the course, from tutors in learning centres to family and friends Passing IT onto a loved one at home. The idea is that Online basics is open to everyone, but over the next three months it's being piloted in UK online centres in Barnsley, Oldham, Gloucester, Devon, and London to see whether it meets the needs of those people taking their first steps online.