About Digital Britain Forum / UK Online Centres

UK Online Centres

About 8 million people in the UK are estimated not to use the Internet and subsequently, missing its benefits, opportunities and conveniences. The UK Online Centres, a network of 3,000 partner centres and about 2,000 access points throughout Britain were launched by the UK Government in 1999 to help people get access to the world wide web and learn to use both computers and the Internet. Funded by the Department for Education and Skills, the network of partner centres and access points is focused on deprived areas and over 80 percent of UK online centres are present in areas with the highest percentage of computer illiteracy.

How Is the Network of UK Online Centres Helping

The network of UK online centres aims to reach as many computer illiterate individuals as possible and help them learn the basics including how to use the mouse and keyboard, how to search the web, use email, shop online safely, etc.. The centres also offer other types of courses, some of which are run in the most deprived areas to reach people who usually don’t turn for help to the centres. Through annual Get Online Day, the UK online centres also raise public awareness about the advantages of digital technology, especially computers and the Internet as well as invite computer illiterate individuals to visit their nearest centre or access point.

Learn My Way Website

Besides running a network consisting of nearly 6,000 partner centres and access points, the UK Online Centres also runs Learn My Way website which is intended for first-time Internet users. It includes UK Online Centres’ own courses and various useful resources from its partners.

Visitors of the website can learn the Internet and computer basics including how to use the mouse, keyboard and email (Online Basics). When they master the basics, they can advance their knowledge through the Online Plus package which amongst other also includes a guide on how to do banking and shopping online safely and conveniently. There are also more advanced options such as computer programming, online marketing and website development which are organised by local search engine marketing companies and other organisations.

Lastly, visitors who sign up for an account on Learn My Way website can make a personalised learning plan which also enables them to monitor their progress. At the same time, the centres gain valuable information about their visitors, allowing them to evaluate their success.

Users of the UK Online Centres

The UK Online Centres are used by about 2 million people each year. Up to 70 percent are socially excluded individuals, while about 50 percent of people who turn to one of the centres have no formal qualifications. However, nearly two thirds of the users take advantage of the information and advice they receive through the UK Online Centres network to improve their education or find an employment.