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Purpose The purpose of this paper is to illustrate an Inclusive Digital Literacy Framework for vulnerable populations in rural areas under the Digital India program. Key challenges include addressing multiple literacies such as health literacy, financial literacy and eSafety for low-literate learners in low-resource settings with low internet bandwidth, lack of ICT facilities and intermittent electricity. Design/methodology/approach This research implemented an educational model based on the proposed framework to train over 1,000 indigenous people using an integrated curriculum for digital literacies at remote settlements. The model uses mobile technology adapted for remote areas, context enabled curriculum, along with flexible learning schedules. Findings The education model exemplifies a viable strategy to overcome persistent challenges by taking tablet-based digital literacies directly to communities. It engages different actors such as existing civil societies, schools and government organizations to provide digital literacy and awareness thereby improving both digital and life skills. It demonstrates the potential value of a comprehensive Digital Literacy framework as a powerful lever for Digital Inclusion. Practical Implications Policy makers can use this transformational model to extend the reach and effectiveness of Digital Inclusion through the last mile enhancing existing training and service centers that offer the traditional model of Digital Literacy Education. Originality/value This innovative mobile learning model based on the proposed Digital Framework for Inclusion instilled motivation, interest and confidence while providing effective digital training and conducting exams directly in the tribal settlements for low-literate learners in remote settings. Through incorporating multiple literacies, this model serves to empower learners, enhance potential, improve well-being and reduce the risk of exploitation.
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Towards an inclusive digital
literacy framework for
digital India
Prema P. Nedungadi, Rajani Menon and Georg Gutjahr
Center for Research in Analytics &Technologies for Education (CREATE),
Coimbatore, India
Lynnea Erickson
University of Washington,
Seattle, Washington, USA, and
Raghu Raman
Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham, Coimbatore, India
Abstract
Purpose The purpose of this paper is to illustrate an Inclusive Digital Literacy Framework for
vulnerable populations in rural areas under the Digital India program. Key challenges include addressing
multiple literacies such as health literacy, financial literacy and eSafety for low-literate learners in
low-resource settings with low internet bandwidth, lack of ICT facilities and intermittent electricity.
Design/methodology/approach This research implemented an educational model based on the proposed
framework to train over 1,000 indigenous people using an integrated curriculum for digital literacies at remote
settlements. The model uses mobile technology adapted for remote areas, context enabled curriculum, along
with flexible learning schedules.
Findings The education model exemplifies a viable strategy to overcome persistent challenges by taking
tablet-based digital literacies directly to communities. It engages different actors such as existing civil
societies, schools and government organizations to provide digital literacy and awareness thereby improving
both digital and life skills. It demonstrates the potential value of a comprehensive Digital Literacy framework
as a powerful lever for Digital Inclusion.
Practical Implications Policy makers can use this transformational model to extend the reach and
effectiveness of Digital Inclusion through the last mile enhancing existing training and service centers that
offer the traditional model of Digital Literacy Education.
Originality/value This innovative mobile learning model based on the proposed Digital Framework for
Inclusion instilled motivation, interest and confidence while providing effective digital training and
conducting exams directly in the tribal settlements for low-literate learners in remote settings. Through
incorporating multiple literacies, this model serves to empower learners, enhance potential, improve
well-being and reduce the risk of exploitation.
Keywords Digital divide, Indigenous people, Digital inclusion,
Information and communication technologies (ICT), Digital competence, Digital learning
Paper type Research paper
1. Introduction
There is a digital divide in remote and rural India, perpetuated by inequalities related to
physical access to ICT, low-literacy, low economic status and inadequate social and health
awareness. Rural and tribal people are amongst the most disadvantaged segments of
society and are often exploited due to their illiteracy and concomitant lack of awareness.
They are deprived of development processes that were initiated and intended for their
advancement, prosperity and security.
The Indian Government has launched and scaled the Digital India program, along
with Skill India and multiple schemes for inclusion. In spite of significant efforts
on the part of the Government, NGOs and different private agencies to safeguard the
well-being of the tribal people, lack of Digital Literacy, education and awareness constitute
Education +Training
© Emerald Publishing Limited
0040-0912
DOI 10.1108/ET-03-2018-0061
Received 13 March 2018
Revised 2 May 2018
Accepted 5 May 2018
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available on Emerald Insight at:
www.emeraldinsight.com/0040-0912.htm
Towards an
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the main hindrances in their way to understanding and utilizing these initiatives.
Empowering the tribals through education can exponentially expand awareness of their
rights and privileges.
eLiteracy skills can support digital inclusion and allow tribal communities
to benefit from various schemes, while the health and social awareness aspects
can help in safeguarding them from exploitation. However, attempts to bring
Digital Literacy Skills education to remote and rural areas have encountered
numerous challenges, including low literate learners, low internet bandwidth, lack
of ICT facilities and intermittent electricity. Moreover, literacy training schedules may
temporarily reduce their livelihood time, a factor which has previously led to low
attendance and dropout rates.
Thus, a Digital Education Framework for Inclusion must consider resource gaps, low
literacy, and even exploitation, while suggesting a path for empowerment and use of
technology that will help bridge the digital divide.
We propose an Inclusive Digital Literacy Framework (IDLF), and then describe an
education model based on the framework that was applied to successfully train and certify
more than 1,000 indigenous people over a period of three years.
2. Digital literacy frameworks
A number of digital literacy frameworks have been designed by various organizations and
nations to suit their local populations and transform learners. These frameworks have
included both technical and social dimensions with the goal of empowering individuals to
develop not only technical abilities, but also life skills and access to services. They
encompass universal literacy, creative literacy and literacy in multiple disciplines.
eSafety is an additional important component in most frameworks. Digital citizenship
expands this concept to include an understanding of rights and responsibilities as well
as legal and ethical behavior (American Library Association, 2013).
Although digital literacy frameworks are being developed throughout the world, variations
based on a variety of contextual factors can be observed. Efforts in USA, for example, tend to
focus on individual empowerment and educational policy (Bryn Mawr College, 2016, Bryn
Mawr Digital Competencies Frameworkwhile South Africas National e-Skills Plan of Action
emphasizes job skills and entrepreneurships as a path to development National e-skills Plan of
Action, 2012).
The European Digital Competence Framework for Citizens (DigComp), which aims to
build digitally-competent citizens,describes information literacy, communication, content
creations, safety and problem solving as key requirements (Carretero et al., 2017). It also
highlights the need to tailor programs to local, regional or national circumstances. Economic
and cultural diversity and various national contextual factors may provide a challenge to
develop a uniform European framework, and national policies may play a critical role in
applying or adapting the framework.
3. eLiteracy of digital India
Digital India has the goal to ensure transparency and avoid corruption in services reaching
the beneficiary, along with providing good governance and ensuring inclusion with an
effective service delivery system. The Indian Government, under the Pradhan Mantri
Grameen Digital Saksharata Abhiyan scheme, aims to make 60 million citizens digitally
literate in rural India. The program also envisages equal opportunity to all rural citizens,
enabling them in livelihood and services through digital technology. It partners with
training organizations and encourages small rural entrepreneurship through the Central
Service Centers to provide digital services to villages.
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4. IDLF for a digital India
Inequalities within digital literacy contexts include variations in access and external support,
literacy levels, and perceived relevance and value of the literacies. Strategies to promote
inclusion of vulnerable populations attempt to address these inequalities, through both
individual and community empowerment, through improved access to digital tools, relevant
skills to development and ongoing support in the use of digital literacies.
The proposed IDLF promotes safe use of digital technologies to access information,
communication, eGovernance services, job skills, learning, and financial services such as
online banking and ehealth services. However, without awareness about benefits, services
and rights, many low-literate populations are unwilling to invest the time and take
advantage of the services provided by the government and NGOs. Hence to increase
motivation and participation, awareness is included in each component of IDLF.
The eGovernance Literacy component, for example, informs and offers easy access to
relevant online Government services. In addition to its tailored focus on low-literate learners,
the framework also considers those with learning difficulties and disabilities.
Each component must incorporate accessibility features in the design so as to support
those with reading disabilities (Figure 1).
Similar to the European DigComp framework, Indias IDLF framework must work with
multiple languages and cultural contexts. Unlike European Union, however the IDLF
framework must cater to neo-literate and low-literate populations and focus on creating
awareness about education, health, income generation, specific governance services meant
for inclusion, along with access and digital skills.
Unlike, British Columbias framework, the focus on content creation and media skills is
secondary to awareness and understanding of the various components of IDLF
(American Library Association, 2013). Similar to the USA, an inclusive framework must
have goals of individual empowerment and education policy, but implement them in the
context of low access, low literacy, low infrastructure and low awareness.
5. Indigenous people in settlements of the Kerala state
The Indian state of Kerala is considered as a role model for literacy and human
development, however, the tribal population has been marginalized and the state has not
achieved the required success in tribal development. Although Government programs are
being implemented to reduce the wide gap between the tribal and non-tribal communities in
the state, especially in the aspects of social developments, success has thus far been elusive.
• Learn to get online information and media. Communication,
Social Media
• Online health services. Health and Substance abuse
awareness
• Online banking, payments
• Knowledge and access to Government Services
• Staying safe online, human trafficking awareness
• Access to Educational Materials
Information Literacy
Health Literacy
Financial Literacy
e-Governance Literacy
e-Safety Literacy
e-Learning Literacy
Figure 1.
Inclusive digital
literacy framework
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As Tribal communities are facing an increasing number of challenges that could be
significantly mitigated through improved literacy in Kerala (Chandran, 2012). These
challenges include education, health, safety, access to potentially beneficial schemes and
threats to livelihood and exploitation.
Education
The interactional environment of the tribal students in schools strongly influences academic
success and is considerably influenced by familial, personal and structural factors
( Jose, 20152016). The Unfavorable social relationships in schools in the form of poor social
support, poor school integration, poor status of friendship in schools, and social rejections
all lead to perception of identity threat among the tribal children. The consequences are
absenteeism and increasing dropout rate. The educational levels of tribal communities in
different regions of Kerala remain low with the majority being educated below primary level
(Suresh and Rajasenan, 2015).
Many schemes and programs have been implemented in tribal areas of Kerala, and some
have brought constructive changes in educating these populations (Babu, 2017). In many
communities, the views have changed toward education, and the educational programs have
a key role to play in this regard.
Health
The tribals suffer from a wide range of diseases leprosy, TB, scabies, malnutrition-based
diseases and other communicable diseases and so on (Nithya, 2014). Despite several
healthcare measures taken by government, in many cases the medical facilities are
still out of reach to those people as the hospitals and healthcare centres are situated far
away from their settlements. Many tribal villages are yet to know about sanitary systems
andhealtheducation.
Safety
Some tribal women have been victims of physical harassment and sexual exploitation by
employers or fellow workers in tea estates and other fields (Nithya, 2014). Furthermore,
cases of human trafficking have been reported (Uddin, 2014).
Government schemes
Various schemes and programs have been formulated and implemented to help the schedule
tribes of Kerala. Remote settlement of the tribal populations, ignorance and sometimes
indifference to the development programs, corruption at different levels are some of the
reasons responsible for failure of the programs to overcome the challenges and issues faced
by the tribals (Baiju, 2011).
Skills
The introduction of forest rules, deforestation and other environmental factors have
negatively affected the survival strategies of the tribals in different regions of Kerala as they
are dependent upon the forest ecosystem (Ramachandran, 2013).
As the economy of the tribal population is largely dependent on forest and agriculture,
deforestation has seriously influenced the tribal economy. In addition to deforestation, other
factors such as in-migration to the hilly areas, use of hilly land for different other activities
and introduction of modern but inappropriate techniques of cultivation have brought a
drastic change to the living pattern and financial condition of the tribals
(Haseena and Meera Bai, 2006). Hence training for alternative skills is becoming
increasingly necessary for livelihood.
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Exploitation due to lack of awareness
The increasing number of landless tribals in Kerala is a result of exploitation by outsiders as
the innocent tribal communities are largely dependent on non-tribals for their credit
requirements (Haseena, 2014). Poor economic conditions, long standing indebtedness,
alcoholism, industrialization, urbanization, lack of legal knowledge, and lack of land records
are some of the reasons that have alienated tribals from their land.
A study on the ST cooperatives, started to help the backward communities, and the
financial status of the members reveal that more than 80 percent of the members find it
difficult to meet their expenditure because of low level of income and hence, borrowing is
very common (Bhaskaran and Meera Bai, 2006). More than 75 percent of the borrowers
cannot repay their loans and are being exploited in various forms.
Various social issues such as alcoholism and domestic violence are closely related to the
status of women and the need for measures related to women empowerment, most of which
are related in some way to literacy. The government sponsored Mahila Samakhya is an
innovative approach with its wide range of programs from literacy camps, vocational
training and adult education classes, to addressing social issues such as alcoholism and
domestic violence (Kandpal et al., 2012). This program redefined education for women as an
empowering tool is which beyond basic literacy. The program was visualized as a unique
approach to design learning processes for women that would change their way of
thinking and acting, but has had only partial success in reaching out to women of all levels
( Jandhyala, 2012).
6. Digital literacy education model
Our overall objectives are to empower rural people, particularly youth, through computer
education, to create awareness about IT, social services and health education, and most
importantly to improve the quality of life, build resilience and offer accessibility to various
plans and projects for tribal benefit. The Education Model was designed using the IDLF,
encompassing Information, Health, Education and Financial Literacies, eGovernance
Services and e-Safety.
The beneficiaries included adults in remote tribal settlements; youth in tribal schools;
girls who had dropped out of the school system and received intervention at Mahila
Shikshan Kendras; and girls from Nirbhaya hostel, who have rescued from human
trafficking or other high-risk circumstances.
m-Learning
With the proliferation of smartphones and mobile devices in rural India, m-Learning is a
natural choice for education. Though challenges in India still include access to ownership of
smartphones, the governments Make In India scheme will increase the reach of low-cost
smartphones, along with eGovernance Services in regional languages.
The tablets themselves initially attracted students to the program. Factors for tablets
gaining acceptance for learning are portability and an interactive interface, with the
touch-screen being convenient and easy to learn to navigate (Couse and Chen, 2010).
Mobile Android tablets were used to teach skills such as using a word processor and
creating spreadsheets. Game-oriented apps and eBooks on low cost android tablets in
Malayalam language were developed and adapted for effective learning.
Tablet-based education can foster literacy and education, link rural students with faculty
at universities (Das and Singha, 2012), train teachers remotely (Bijlani et al., 2012), offer
online science virtual labs to students who do not have access to traditional labs (Nedungadi
et al., 2013), assist in learning disabilities (Geetha et al., 2013; Haridas et al., 2018) and
remotely monitor classrooms (Nedungadi, Jayakumar and Raman, 2018; Nedungadi, Mulki
and Raman, 2018). It can also provide the awareness needed to tackle various social and
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health issues (Chaudhary et al., 2010; Nedungadi et al., 2017). More advanced techniques
such as personalization (Nedungadi and Raman, 2012), using character recognition
( Jayakumar et al., 2016) and speech recognition ( Jayakumar et al., 2016) for language
learning provide detailed, individualized feedback to the learner while customizing
presentation to suit the learner. Our education model utilized low-cost tablets that were
adaptable to low-resource environments with intermittent electricity.
Multi-lingual adaptability
Training materials included a Malayalam app and videos for basic computer literacy,
financial literacy, health literacy, accessing eGovernance services, eSafety and basic societal
functioning, health, hygiene and diseases.
Relevant content
The educational content in these studies was customized to the needs of tribal youth and
adults, taking into consideration the language as well as lack of consistent connectivity and
low processing power. The integrated program (Figure 2) is designed to teach novices to
operate computers and use the internet by integrating content relevant to individual
learners, such as accessing e-Governance applications, making digital payments, engaging
in online banking, setting up and accessing e-mail, performing basic word processing and
gaining access to educational resources, health services and government schemes. It also
provided access to digital libraries, games and apps for e-learning.
The Social and Health Awareness segment included videos and apps on the
tablet that provided education on issues such as drug and alcohol addiction, human
trafficking awareness, lack of hand sanitization, spitting in public places, dangers
of open defecation, in addition to providing inputs on advantages of boiling water and
benefits of organic and healthy food habits (Roberts et al., 2015). As noted, beneficiaries
also learned basic financial literacy, such as using online banking, as well as how
to gain access to educational resources and government schemes. On completion of
the course, examinations were conducted and course completion certificates issued to
successful candidates.
Social Awareness
Online Banking
Health
Awareness
Personal e-mail
Bill Paymen
t
e-Governance
Applications
Educational Sites
THE AWARENESS IN
COMPUTER CONCEPTS
(ACC)
Figure 2.
Awareness in
computer concepts
along with other
digital programs
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7. Performance in an external exam
In our study, exams for the Awareness in Computer Courses were taken directly to tribal
settlements or schools and offered via laptop and connected tablets. The student tablet
received randomly assigned questions from the assessment laptop and answer data logs were
saved in the laptop and integrated to the cloud for analysis when internet was available.
A total of 1,110 students and adults completed the computer training; see Table I.
Participants, all of whom were from tribal communities in Kerala, were between 8 and
50 years old, with a mean age of 17.1 (SD 5.5). 319 (28.7 percent) of the participants were
adults (i.e. at least 18 years old). Of the participants, a total of 678 (61 percent) were female;
among children, 523 (66 percent) were female, while among adults, 155 (49 percent)
were female. In total, 22 percent of the participants had never used a computer or a
smartphone before the training. Figure 1 shows a histogram of the age of the participants.
Among participants who completed the training, 89 percent passed the exam, while among
adults who completed the training, 92 percent passed. For passing the exam, the odds ratio
between children and adults was 1.28 (95% CI 0.802.06), and the difference was not
statistically signi ficant ( po0.29). There was no significant difference between the pass rates
of female and male participants: odds ratio 1.39, 95% CI 0.912.14, pvalue 0.12. Figure 3
shows a histogram of the marks, where more than 10 marks are required to pass the exam.
While the pass rates are not significantly different between age classes and gender, there
are statistically significant differences in the specific marks obtained. Table II and Figure 2
Overall Children 18 yrs Adults W18 yrs
Completed training 1,110 791 319
Attended exam 1,043 757 315
Passed exam 1,003 710 292
Table I.
Number of
participants who
completed the
training, attended
the exam and
passed the exam
400
300
200
100
0
10 20 30 40 50
300
250
200
150
100
50
0
0 5 10 15 20
ACC Marks
Frequency
Frequency
Age (years)
Figure 3.
Histogram of the
marks from the ACC
exam and of the age
of the participants
df FP
Gender 4 2.75 0.03
Age 6 3.13 0.01
Interaction 3 2.86 0.03
Note: The table contains the degrees of freedom, the Fstatistics and the p-values for age, gender, and
interaction term between age and gender
Table II.
ANOVA table for the
natural spline model
of ACC marks
depending on age
and gender
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show the fit from an natural spline model of ACC marks depending on age and gender.
High marks were obtained from older children in school (age 16 to 18 years) and from older
women (age 35). The difference between male and female is significant both at a young age
(up to age 15) and at older age groups (30 years and above), but not within the main age
range between 16 and 29 years (Figure 4).
8. Post-training questionnaire
One-on-one interviews were conducted with 224 participants of the training program six
months after completion of the training. Questionnaires were used to collect relevant
information, to assess the impact of computer education and awareness program, and
particularly on the overall performance of the program. In total, 66 percent of the
participants were female and 25 percent were adults over 18 years. In an open-ended
post-survey question, What is the most important thing you learned in the Amrita ACC
program,90 percent of the students described feeling much more confident using the
computer and the internet.
Digital literacy
Digital literacy was demonstrated by a large number of certified candidates. Improved
abilities were also demonstrated through self-reported changes, changes in computer and
internet use, and computer-related vocabulary among participants. 91 percent of the
participants indicated during the interview that they feel confident in using office software,
such as Microsoft Word and Excel, and 56 percent feel confident in using e-mail. When
asked about their most common use of computer, the participants typically mentioned
e-mail, social media and online games.
eGovernance literacy
Of the participants who had completed the program six months prior to the interviews,
32 percent have filled government forms online and 22 percent have booked bus and
train tickets through a website. More importantly, after completing the training, most
participants are aware of the possibilities of eGovernance such as the filling of online forms.
18
16
14
12
10 20 30 40 50
Age (years)
Marks
F
M
Notes: Red line denotes predicted mean marks for female; blue line
denotes predicted mean marks for male; gray areas indicate 95 percent
confidence bands
Figure 4.
Effects displayed from
a natural spline model
of ACC marks
depending on age
and gender
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Health literacy
With regards to malnutrition, over 90 percent of the participants mentioned that the training
helped them to understand malnutrition better, and 16 percent of the participants started a
kitchen garden after the training. In total, 96 percent of the participants mentioned that they
have been influenced by the awareness videos on health issues.
eSafety literacy
During the interviews, 66 percent of the participants stated that the training has made them
more aware and cautious of human trafficking. Furthermore, after the training, 90 percent of
participants are only giving out personal information on the internet on trusted sites.
9. Discussion and implications
An innovative mobile learning model based on the proposed Digital Framework for
Inclusion was used to teach computer skills, increase awareness and life skills, enhance a
sense of empowerment and conduct for low-literate learners living in remote tribal settings.
Specially this model offers the benefits of eliteracy and empowerment to tribal people,
particularly the youth, through computer education.
The program acknowledged that Computer Literacy by itself is not sufficient for
empowerment. Program design and methodology were based on a detailed analysis of the
background of disadvantaged people in remote and rural India, that considered culture,
language, context, socio-economic problems, low infrastructure and low literacy. This study
is a part of an ongoing project that aims to empower with computer literacy, life skills,
eSafety, awareness about education and health among the scheduled tribes using tablet
technology in native languages.
The methodology of primarily using low-cost android devices, along with an assessment
methodology that worked without internet is transformational in that it allows computer
literacy to reach remote areas while instilling confidence and increasing awareness of topics
critical to the health and welfare of tribal communities (e.g. governmental and nonprofit
schemes to enhance tribalslivelihood, health and economic situations). This education
model can be replicated and scaled by the Digital India program by extending the reach
of existing rural Common Service Centers centers to reach remote areas that lack
infrastructure, thereby reaching the last mile for a transformative impact across the nation.
The relatively low drop-off rate and the high percentage of success amongst those who
complete the training may be attributed to: the additional hours spent in training; flexibility
in schedule based on the target learners; translation and context adapted to their needs;
integration of various literacies that benefit them along with multiple modalities of
presentation; and examination that could be conducted in their local area.
Our challenges included additional unplanned time requirement by master trainers,
limited content in the regional language, and designing tailored awareness materials that
were suitable for the local context. While most of beneficiaries became confident about
using spreadsheets and documents, the majority use their skills for communication such
as e-mail and social media. The majority were aware of eGovernance services that could
benefit them, with 32 percent availing of the services within six months following the
training. A substantial majority improved in understanding of nutrition using the
multimedia elearning material, with about 16 percent starting organic kitchen gardens
for healthier dietary practices. Furthermore, a high percentage of users understood the risks
of providing personal information at untrusted websites, thereby reducing online security
risks that often accompany increased use of e-mail, social media and using online services.
Looking at the feedback received during various visits and at the training sessions in
different villages of Kerala, there is a repeated pattern of interest and enthusiasm for tablet
based education among tribal students.
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Both qualitative and quantitative feedback mechanisms were designed to gauge the
success and benefits of this training program. Quantitative measurements of the impact of
the training program verified the substantial improvements in eLiteracy skills that were
observed among participants of the computer education and awareness program.
Improvements were evident among all age groups and for both men and women.
In terms of qualitative assessment of the impact of the training program, participants of
the program reported increased confidence in a wide area of applications related to
eLiteracy. As noted, in the open-ended post-survey question, What is the most important
thing you learned in the Amrita E-Literacy ACC program,most students described feeling
much more confident using the computer and the internet. While nearly all of the
participants were first time computer users, they reported a feeling of comfort with the
technology and applications. Furthermore, many participants reported actual changes in
behavior due to the acquired skills and the increase in confidence. With regards to digital
literacy, most participants indicated during interviews that they feel confident in using
computers and, as a result, they also report changes in the ways that they use the internet
for a variety of tasks. A representative example from such an interview is as follows:
I could learn more about computer. After the first sessions, I could remember spreadsheet
and Word. I have seen education games and awareness videos, mathematics games on the
tablet. I want study more about IT.
Participants across all age groups interacted very well with the touch tablets and
demonstrated a strong preference for tablets over the traditional desktop. After training,
participants were more inclined to use their phones for simple learning interactions.
In addition to self-report, increases in the participantsability to use the computer and
negotiate the internet were assessed through observation of computer and internet use and
increased computer-related vocabulary among participants. We found a very strong sense
of improved computer ability among study participants as a result of the ACC training
course: 90 percent reported an increase in their ability to use computers after completing the
ACC course.
Significantly, in addition to improvements in digital literacy, participants also reported
positive changes in areas such as eGovernance Literacy, Health Literacy and eSafety
Literacy. For example, some participants have subsequently completed government forms
online or used the internet to book bus and train tickets. Most importantly, many
participants became aware of various eGovernance services that could benefit them. With
regards to Health Literacy, many participants mentioned that the training helped them to
better understand malnutrition. Finally, with respect to eSafety Literacy, most participants
reported increased awareness about human trafficking; furthermore participants reported
that they are now more cautious about giving out personal information on the internet.
Providing such eLiteracy training can have a real impact on the life of the participants.
Here is one such example from an interview: There was a video about how one village
doubled their rice cultivation using new techniques. We really need to use these in our
village. I am very fortunate to be able to see and learn these new things.
10. Conclusion
The research proposes an IDLF as a powerful lever for Digital Inclusion. The framework
offers challenges, ideas and methodology to government and civil society stakeholders in
digitally inclusive education projects. The success rate in the examination is higher and the
dropout rates are significantly lower with this model compared to the traditional model for
Digital Literacy education, where students come to a computer center to learn.
The research further implemented an innovative education model based on the IDL
framework. The education model exemplifies a viable strategy to overcome the challenges
that have heretofore hindered efforts to bring digital literacies and its concomitant benefits
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(e.g. awareness and ability to access beneficial schemes) to tribal communities. Goals were
achieved and obstacles minimized through use of tablet based education including the
ability to function without internet and only intermittent electricity which included social
and health awareness programs presented in the local language. Furthermore, the IDLF
engages a variety of already established entities, such as civil societies, schools and
government organizations, to provide multiple digital literacies thereby reducing costs
and optimizing existing structures. In this way, empowering learners with both digital
and life skills and reducing the risk of exploitation can be achieved without reinventing
community infrastructures.
Success rates in the examination are higher and the dropout rates are significantly lower
with this model compared to the traditional model for Digital Literacy education, where
students come to a computer center to learn. In addition, while Hindi has traditionally been
readily available, our findings suggest that all technology based literacies need to be
available to rural India in other regional languages, including in the dialects spoken by
indigenous people. This education model can be replicated by the Digital India program to
reach rural areas that lack infrastructure, having a transformative impact across the nation.
Policy makers can use this transformational model to extend the reach of Digital Inclusion to
the last mile through existing training and service centers that offer the traditional model of
Digital Literacy Education.
IDLF has identified six forms of digital literacies to support inclusion. For each of these,
future work can define a scale to assess specific levels of literacy. Such future work would be
useful in quantifying the degree of digital literacy in different communities. Additional
future research planned include longitudinal studies on the effectiveness, benefits and
limitations of digital literacy training as well as studies to identify factors associated with
gender, age and other demographic variables that might enhance ability to target training
more effectively.
The provision of digital literacies to remote communities holds the promise of improvement,
well-being and success at all levels for individuals, families, tribal communities, and the
nation as a whole. As citizens become confident, aware, knowledgeable and empowered, their
potential to both benefit and contribute expands exponentially, not only in health, education,
and livelihood, but also in terms of preserving and extending cultural heritage.
Acknowledgment
Training in education, literacies and skills at over 100 rural villages in 21 states of India,
with the goal of making them self-reliant, is supported by Mata Amritanandamayi Math, an
NGO with consultative status at UN-ECOSOC and Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham. The
digital literacy education project to train and certify 1,000 indigenous people in Digital
Literacy and Awareness in tribal settlements using tablets is, supported by Ministry of
Communications and Information Technology (MeitY), Governemnt of India. Awareness in
Computer Course is an initiative of NIELT (National Institute of Electronics and Information
Technology), under MeitY.
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Corresponding author
Prema P. Nedungadi can be contacted at: prema@amrita.edu
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