Latest Digital Literacy Reports from Minnesota – Each one Teach One Challenge

Earlier this week, Connect Minnesota released a report on digital literacy and household broadband adoption. Here’s the quick take…

digitalThe 2012 Residential Technology Assessment from Connect Minnesota shows that approximately 904,000 [22 percent] adult Minnesotans do not subscribe to home broadband service. Minnesotans without home broadband service most often cite a lack of relevance, or the belief that home broadband service is not beneficial or useful to them, and cost as the top two reasons for not adopting the service. However, more than one in ten non-adopters in Minnesota (13%) cite a lack of digital literacy skills as their main reason for not adopting home broadband, which makes it the third most-cited reason for not having home broadband in Minnesota (Figure 1).

The report using data collected via random digit dial telephone survey of 1,201 adult heads of households across the state between October 2 and October 25, 2012.

The report also mentions the WhyBroadband? site created by the Minnesota Broadband Task Force. It’s a one-stop-shop for info on learning more about computer and Internet access.

Each One Teach One Challenge

I suspect that most folks reading this blog are broadband adopters. But many of us know someone who isn’t. Maybe we can all work to improving broadband adoption statistics by working with one person to help them increase their digital literacy in an each one teach one model. Maybe that means donating a computer to someplace such as PCs for People (which refurbishes computers for low income households). Maybe that means helping a parent, grandparent or acquaintance with some one-on-one training. Maybe that means volunteering at the library, community center or senior care facility to work with folks in a casual or formal setting.

At TED I saw a presentation on the decline of butterflies. One answer – plant gardens. This is the same sort of suggestion. If each of us took just a couple of hours it would make a difference. The WhyBroadband site links to curriculum that would help get folks going – but I’ve done some digital literacy training and I have found that when you have the luxury of working with one or two people it’s really a matter of finding out what would spark an interest with the non-adopter and exploring that topic together online. The objective isn’t necessarily for each of us to create computer geeks – just inspire the interest to learn more.

This entry was posted in Digital Divide, MN, Research by Ann Treacy. Bookmark the permalink.

About Ann Treacy

Librarian who follows rural broadband in MN and good uses of new technology (, hosts a radio show on MN music (, supports people experiencing homelessness in Minnesota ( and helps with social justice issues through Women’s March MN.

1 thought on “Latest Digital Literacy Reports from Minnesota – Each one Teach One Challenge

  1. I have mixed feelings about reports on broadband adoption. For me, public policy leaders and broadband should focus on those who cannot afford broadband, those where broadband is not available and those who cite their own digital illiteracy, almost 40% in this survey. These are people who seem to want to use broadband, but face fixable barriers. According to this survey, fixing these folks’ connection issues would add another 8% onto the existing 80% adoption rate.

    As to the 40% who find home broadband irrelevant, it would be interesting to know more about them. Do they have access elsewhere that meets their needs? Do they prefer to read physical books and magazines rather than use a computer monitor? Are they active people that would rather do things like fish, bike or craft rather than sit at a computer? Maybe they like to sit on the front porch and visit with neighbors! It seems like this group will subscribe when they need broadband – for school, for work, for health care. In any case, this seems to be more of a marketing issue for the providers, not a public policy consideration.

    The data from this survey shows that almost 80% of people already subscribe to home broadband. That is a big number! We have often heard from telecom providers that they need more subscribers to justify investment in new infrastructure, but would going from 80% adoption to 100% adoption really make the numbers work in our unserved rural areas? I doubt it.

    I have worked with rural townships that have gathered commitments for subscription from almost 100% of their residents, presented the list and map to both incumbent and possible competitive providers, and the providers have not made the investment. I have to assume that this is because the capital costs and expected revenue streams just do not match up to make the business case.

    Let’s keep the public policy focus on meeting unmet needs of people who cannot get access, lack technology skills and/or lack the financial ability to get broadband.

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