News and Information – June 2010

Recent News and Information

At the last meeting a report produced by the Digital Participation Scotland Network (DPSN) was highlighted. DPSN will be working with the UK level Digital Participation Consortium to support delivery of the actions outlined in the Digital Britain report. The key recommendation of the DPS Network report was the need for a fully ‘joined up’ approach to digital participation and the Cross Party Group provides a relevant hub to bring together best practice and discuss issues. Members can read the Digital Participation Scotland Network’s report at: http://www.digitalparticipation.com/sites/default/files/national-plan/Digital%20Participation%20in%20Scotland.pdf

Political

Following the last meeting members expressed an interest in hearing more on the Scottish Government’s Action Plan on Child Internet Safety. One of the key advisors on the document was Ollie Bray who is currently seconded to Learning and Teaching Scotland working on the Emerging Technologies brief. Here, he offers a unique insight into the Plan and some of its practical elements.

• Scotland’s Action Plan on Child Internet Safety

The first UK Child Internet Safety Strategy was launched in December 2009 and Scotland also has a specific action plan to help address some of the issues Child Internet Safety and Responsible use in Scotland.

One of its strengths is the fact that the words ‘responsible use’ follows and reference to ‘child internet safety’. As I have said time and time again we are only going keep our children safe on line through education and by teaching them to use the Internet responsibly.

Internet Safety and Responsible Use are part of the Experiences and Outcomes of a Curriculum for Excellence which schools are currently expected to implement from August 2010.

The experiences and outcomes where this is specifically mentioned include:

Technologies Level 1 – 2

“By considering ways to protect technological devices, I can act safely and responsibly when selecting and using different technologies to communicate and collaborate”.

Technologies Level 3

“I am developing my knowledge and use of safe and acceptable conduct as I use different technologies to interact and share experiences, ideas and information with others”.

I would also argue that Internet Safety and Responsible Use embedded within the following outcome:

Health and Wellbeing Early – Level 4

“I am learning to assess and manage risk, to protect myself and others, and to reduce the potential for harm when possible”.

If you are Scottish teacher or have at least read and understood a Curriculum for Excellence. Health and Wellbeing is the Responsibility of all professionals.

It is also important to remember that when we talk about Child Internet Safety and Responsible Use we are not just referring to online grooming and the protection of children from sexual abuse.

We are also, very importantly, referring to the education of children and young people to help them become more digitally literate. Once again, this falls under the responsibility of all professionals within CfE and it is particularly well illustrated in the following outcome:

Literacy Level 3

“To help me develop an informed view, I am exploring the techniques used to influence my opinion. I can recognise persuasion and assess the reliability of information and credibility and value of my resources”

Furthermore, all Scottish teachers also have a commitment to the protecting of children as part of the Standard for Registration of the GTCS.

There is, however, still a wider discussion to have about the interesting differences between the level of access to some web tools within different parts and within different schools in Scotland. For me, this is the real and a very important discussion that we still need to have.

• Jim Mather on Broadband

Following a question in Parliament regarding Next Generation Broadband Access, Minister Jim Mather said the following:

“The Scottish Government issued a call for expressions of interest for its new piece of research on broadband in Scotland on 12 April 2010 and, following this, will shortly be issuing an invitation to tender to short-listed candidate tenderers. We expect to be in a position to select the successful tenderer and formally commission the research in May. We envisage the research will take four to five months to complete, and that it will form part of the Scottish Government’s evidence-base for future policy development on broadband.”

Economic

• e-skills UK Technology Counts – It and Telecoms Insights 2010 – Scotland

e-skills UK work on behalf of employers to ensure the UK has the technology skills it needs to succeed in a global digital economy. Our work covers software, internet & web, IT services, telecommunications and business change. e-skills UK have individuals and teams responsible for England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. They are focused on understanding regional and national needs and driving activity which addresses those needs. Below is a summary of the finding s of e-skills UK’s recent research designed to provide an in depth understanding of the existing IT & Telecoms landscape in Scotland.

– Evidence of the sector’s growing importance is illustrated by Scotland’s IT & Telecoms annual GVA contribution having grown by 72% since 1999, totalling £3.4 billion in 2007

– It is estimated that the continued adoption and exploitation of ICT could generate an additional £2.8 billion of GVA to Scotland’s economy over the coming 5-7 years, provided companies – particularly smaller companies – take action on the key factors of management & leadership skills, investment and the IT enablement of employees

– 6% of the 2.3 million people of working age in Scotland are unemployed. Those who are in work receive on average £430 per week which is 4% below the UK average. More than half (51%) of Scotland’s workforce is employed in either Public Administration. Education and Health or Distribution, Hotels and Restaurants

– There are over 7000 workplaces in Scotland’s IT & Telecoms industry – 84% of which are IT and 16% Telecoms

– 7530 new entrants a year are required to fill IT and Telecoms professional job roles in Scotland

– Gender remains a significant issue, and in 2009, only 27% of IT & Telecoms professionals in Scotland were female

– Almost one half of Scottish firms recruiting for IT & Telecoms staff report difficulty with finding candidates with the required skills, qualifications or experience

The full report is available at http://www.e-skills.com/Around-the-UK/Scotland/2463

Social

• Ofcom’s Report on Children’s and Adult’s Media Literacy in the Nations

Ofcom conducted its’ annual research on media literacy and has published a nations specific report on some of the key measures.

Children (aged 5-15)

Children in Scotland have high levels of ownership of key media. Children aged 5-15 in Scotland are more likely than all UK children to have access to a games console (either fixed or portable) within the household. Children in Scotland are more likely to have a wide range of media in their bedroom compared to all UK children and are as likely as other UK children to have access to the internet in their bedroom.

Children in Scotland are less likely than all UK children to use the internet (at least weekly) for school or homework and are more likely to use it for playing games. For 2009, the claimed weekly consumption patterns for TV, radio, the internet and gaming among 5-15’s in Scotland does not differ from that of UK children. However, since 2007, there has been an increase in the number of hours per week spent on gaming.

Children aged 8-15 in Scotland are no more likely to have set up a social networking profile and are less likely to have created a character that lives or plays in an online/virtual world.

Adults

As with the UK overall, adults in Scotland have high levels of household take-up of digital television (93%) and the internet (69%), and nine in ten use mobile phones. Half of adults in Scotland would say they would miss watching television the most, as with the UK overall.

When asked to choose from a list of possible reasons for using the internet, adults in Scotland are more likely than all UK adults to say that they use the internet to pass the time (49% vs. 36%). Users in Scotland have a higher claimed volume of internet use at home per week compared to the overall UK measure (10.6 hours vs. 8.4 hours).

Whereas internet users in the UK as a whole are less willing to provide personal information online than was the case in 2007, the reverse is true for internet users in Scotland. Scots are more likely to make a judgement based on professional signs (such as a padlock or system messages, 65% vs. 51%) and less likely to rely on personal instinct (such as a known company name or professional appearance, 7% vs. 13%).

There has been a considerable increase in regular use of the internet for social networking (42% vs. 23%) and for entertainment (36% vs. 23%). Half of all internet users in Scotland have a social networking profile (49%) which is much higher than the figure in Scotland in 2007 (29%)

Technological

In the US there has been a very intense debate going on around ‘Net Neutrality’. One reason the Federal Communications Commission is changing the way it regulates broadband is so that it can apply a principle called network neutrality. Net neutrality, as its known, is the idea that the Internet should be like roads and highways — generally open to all traffic.

President Barack Obama and FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski want Internet service providers to have similar requirements. That means the companies should not be allowed to block, hinder or otherwise discriminate against certain data traffic — even if the traffic, such as video files, use up a lot of network capacity. It also means broadband providers should not be allowed to favor their own traffic or the traffic of companies that pay for priority. Web companies such as Google and Skype strongly support net neutrality.

Internet service providers, however, question whether the road analogy should apply to their lines, which carry e-mails, Web pages and other Internet data into homes and businesses. These companies say that after spending billions of dollars on their networks, they should be allowed to manage Internet traffic. They want the freedom to prevent certain applications from hogging capacity. And they want to be able to create premium services such as those that might let a Web company pay for priority on the networks.

There haven’t been many known instances of Internet service providers hindering Web traffic that they don’t like. One case came when Comcast Corp. interfered with a service called BitTorrent, which lets people swap movies and other big files over the Internet. Advocates of net neutrality say that showed how an Internet service provider that also sells cable TV service could degrade a service that competed with its core business.

The Associated Press – 7 May 2010

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