Thursday, February 03, 2005

MORI survey uncovers major new trends in web use in the UK

Common Information Environment | Projects | Audience research

A major study undertaken by MORI & published today, has examined internet usage and patterns in the UK & what they find "trustworthy" (or not) on the Web. It shows a growing "digital divide" and has important implications for an information society, particularly in relation to "piublic service".

It was commisioned by the Common Information Environment Group which is "all about public sector organisations working together in order to make the online experience more educational, entertaining and enriching than it is currently".

A summary of findings from the JISC press release :

* Most of the population is aware of the Internet to some degree, with just under half of all respondents (49%) saying they know at least a fair amount about it
* 92% of Internet users say that reliability of content is an important factor, including 63% saying it is very important
* Home is the place from which people most commonly access the Internet, with 80% of current users saying that they go online most often from there
* 53% of all respondents go online at least once a week, including 30% who do so every day
* 3% of users access the Internet via mobile phones or GPRS as their preferred means of access.
* Over half of all current users (54%) of the Web use it as their preferred information source. In addition, some 59% of all those surveyed are confident about Internet use, and three quarters of respondents say that they find it easy to get access to the Internet.

In addition,

* With the potential of the Internet as a learning tool, the survey also reveals the public’s attitudes to lifelong learning. Encouragingly, the overwhelming majority of people surveyed agree that it is important for adults to continue to learn as they get older (94%). Importantly most see a role for the Internet in learning new things (83% class the Internet as an important learning tool). 59% of those who have ever used the Internet search for specific information in connection with a hobby or interest, while 40% have done so in connection with their own education, and 25% in connection with their own children’s learning.

The survey also points to a growing “digital divide”, a gulf between different groups of users based on gender, employment, class and educational attainment. Men, people aged 16-54, who work, come from social classes ABC1, and have a formal educational qualification are more likely to be Internet users, the survey finds, than women, people aged 55+, those not in work, from social classes C2DE, and people who do not have a formal educational qualification.

At the same time, findings from the survey suggest that use of the Internet may be prone to lapsing as people move from education and training (where learning providers supply the means of access for those without ready access elsewhere) into work. Once again, the implications for the wider agendas of lifelong learning, e-Government and active citizenship would appear to require concerted political action.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Future Health Bulletin - Jan 05

Future Health Bulletin - Jan 05

The latest edition of Future Health Bulletin has just been published in PDF.

The January edition includes items on:
- News that one of the UK's leading GP technology advocates thinks £95m is not enough to save 'choose and book'.
- The immediate plans of the NHS's new digital television service.
- Our readers' views on the biggest challenges for NHS IT leaders
- A new section with the top IT vacancies in the NHS and its suppliers

Monday, January 31, 2005

FOI request - Wells report on NHSU - no progress

On 1st Jan I submitted a request under the Freedom of Information Act to the Department of Health for publication of the report by Sir Willam Wells into the NHS University (NHSu)
The full text is available on this blog

It is now 20 working days since the request as allowed under the act and I have not received and response (email, telephone or snail mail) from the Department of Health or NHSu, although I did receive a postcard from my MP acknowledging receipt of his copy.

I have today looked at the Departments Freedom of Information complaints process
phined them. I was phoned back by Veronica Fraser (Head of Knowledge Management, Public Enquiries and Complaints Customer Service Centre) who had checked on my application - which had been stamped as being received on 12th Jan (although I posted it on 31st Dec) & suggested it had got delayed in the Xmas post - and that I should receive a response by 8th Feb.

It will be interesting to see whether this occurs.

Several people have complimented me on putting in this request, and asked me about my motivation for doing it...

I have had various dealings with the NHSu and have not been impressed with the experience.
As approx £50 Million of taxpayers money has been spent on this, I feel that there should be a public "right to know" more about what happened.

I have always been a believer that we need the NHS to be a "learning organisation" and have spent the last 20 years or so working on this either from within the NHS or higher education. I have also advocated elearning as a part of this development and felt that the NHSu had the potential to achieve this. I was writing about this sort of work nearly 10 years ago see:
Ward, R 1997 Implications of computer networking and the Internet for nurse education. Nurse Education Today 17, p178-183
Ward, R. 1997 NHSnet: a cost-effective medium for continuing professional education. British Journal of Health Care Computing & Information Management 14(8) p30-33

The formation of the NHSu was a surprise, as I had been at a conference presentation with NHS elearning people only a few weeks before & they were not expecting it - but it seemed to have ministerial clout behind it & therefore a serious budget. As soon as the first consultation came out I wrote 8 pages of comments, which were generally supportive of the concept, but queried some of the proposed delivery and seriously questioned whether trying to develop a "university" was an appropriate role for the NHS. I never received any acknowledgment or response to my comments.

I attended a "consultation" event in Birmingham (14.1.03 - my personal review ) and submitted comments on each consultation document. I also met with a representative of NHSu (after several rearranged dates) as NMAP project manager with colleagues from the BIOME hub of the RDN, and we were promised a further meeting with their curriculum development and IT managers - however this was never forthcoming.

I remained convinced that we need to improve both the learning culture and opportunities within the NHS, however I was always sceptical that the NHSu could achieve this.

When the announcement was made that the NHSu was to be wound up following the Arm's Length Bodies (ALB) review, I heard that the report by Sir William Wells investigating how it had spent £50 Million and achieved very little was produced in very limited numbers (? 7 copies) and restricted so that no one could copy it. I then wrote to my MP suggesting that a copy should be made public (and possibly investigated by the National Audit Office), and received a copy of a letter from John Hutton stating that their intention was to "publish their findings shortly".

I am hopeful that the Wells report will soon be in the public domain.