On the Net together - Start of the Internet Initiative
May 12, 2009. The date marks the first day of Internet erfahren (Experience the Internet), an Initiative from the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology (BMWi). The three-year project aims at helping people who have never been on-line before get started with the internet and help them to use it competently. Informal networks are being promoted that have emerged as the most important way to train digital skills. A current TNS Infratest survey commissioned by the BMWi confirms this.
For around two-thirds of the German population, going on-line has become part of everyday life. Some population segments, however, barely perceive the possibilities of digital media. These include older people, people with lower incomes and less formal education as well as people with disabilities. The Initiative uses new methods to encourage competent use of the internet and addresses itself to all internet novices through mentoring relationships. "Confident use of the internet has become a key skill in our society. It is our task to make it possible for preferably all citizens to have access to digital media and its opportunities. That's why we launched the Internet erfahren Initiative," said Dagmar Wöhrl, Parliamentary State Secretary at the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology.
The results of a current TNS Infratest survey commissioned by the BMWi validated this methodical approach. Getting started on the internet is easier when the focus is on contents and subjects instead of technology and when people from a familiar institutional and professional environment accompany the internet novice. No matter the age, people prefer the help of family, friends or acquaintances for their personal introduction to the internet. And it is exactly here that all the projects and measures of the Initiative begin. Existing informal networks are strengthened and new ones initiated in cooperation with organizations, institutions and companies. Mentors taking part in the Initiative receive instructional materials, can network with one another in on-line blogs and become qualified over the long run. Anyone who is well-versed in the internet and wants to share that knowledge can become an internet mentor
The Initiative is comprised of three programs implemented by three partners: BAGSO Service GmbH, Kompetenzzentrum Technik-Diversity-Chancengleichheit e. V. and the foundation Stiftung Digitale Chancen. Partners acquire and train new mentors in cooperation with local, regional and nationwide players.
The first program, Erlebnis Internet (The Internet Experience), aims at providing older people first time experiences with the internet. The measures are initiated before they even begin to grapple with using the internet and consciously plan the first step on-line. In addition, mentors receive support in working with the elderly, in clubs, societies and associations as well as in the home environment and in companies. The second, Internet-Patinnen und Paten (Internet Mentors), initiates and promotes mentoring relationships of experienced users with people having no prior experience, but who know one another from a private or professional environment. The mentoring idea is being developed in pilot projects, organizations, associations and companies, and propagated in the web community. Inklusive Internet (The Inclusive Internet), the third program, supports mentors who teach competent use of the Internet. A Web 2.0-based learning and communications platform makes internet novices familiar with the opportunities of the "internet for everyone" and links mentors with on another.