The Rural Wings Project: Bridging the Digital Divide with Satellite-Provided Internet. Phase I--Identifying and Analysing the Learning Needs of 31 Communities in 10 Countries
Henrik Hansson, Paul Mihailidis, Ken Larsson, Menelaos Sotiriou, Sofoklis Sotiriou, Nikolaos Uzunoglu, Michail Gargalakos
E-Learning Volume 4, Number 2, ISSN 1741-8887
The digitally marginalised communities are in focus in the EU-funded Rural Wings project 2006-2008. The aim is to identify and analyse the user learning needs in non-connected communities and to meet these needs by providing satellite Internet broadband connections, education and tools. This article reports the findings of the user needs investigation of 31 communities in 10 countries in the initial phase of the project designed and coordinated by Stockholm University, Sweden. Each national coordinator conducted a user needs study in their country using a common framework of questions and guidelines. The sites were selected according to national and regional needs and where satellite-provided Internet is believed to be the long-term solution. The 31 communities selected can be summarised as (a) mainland/lowland communities, 10 (b) mainland/highland communities, 12 (c) island/lowland communities, 5, and (d) island/highland communities, 4. The analysis reveals common threads of lack of infrastructure, accessibility and reliability concerning information and communication technology (ICT) implementation and containment in the community. There is a plethora of reasons for wanting more reliable and frequent Internet connections. Reasons range from educational opportunities, language opportunities, governmental inclusion, information/news outlets, and medical and weather initiative capabilities. This study provides in-depth macro-summaries of each participating country's user needs analysis in total. It also includes the actual analysis of each test site based on over 31 sites spanning 10 European nations. In addition, generalisations, comparisons and differences have been composed, to provide a framework for European trends in rural ICT access. (Contains 3 figures, 1 table and 1 note.)
Hansson, H., Mihailidis, P., Larsson, K., Sotiriou, M., Sotiriou, S., Uzunoglu, N. & Gargalakos, M. (2007). The Rural Wings Project: Bridging the Digital Divide with Satellite-Provided Internet. Phase I--Identifying and Analysing the Learning Needs of 31 Communities in 10 Countries. E-Learning, 4(2), 107-115.