L. Guthu, S. Holm

Vox, Norwegian Agency for Lifelong Learning (NORWAY)
In our presentation on this subject we would like to show you our methods for measuring digital competence in the Norwegian population, and we will present the main results from our three surveys. We will also explain some important measures that are implemented in adult education in the attempt to reduce the digital divide in Norway.

In Norway – as in many other countries - we are experiencing a growing digitalization of our society. We purchase goods and services online, we read the news on the Internet, and we socialize online. Moreover, the Norwegian Government is in the process of digitizing the Public service sector. It is expected that everybody should be able to obtain required information through this channel and therefore it is important to assess the ability of the citizens to obtain such information, to determine whether some fail to master this technology and what needs to be done to enhance the level of skills in the population.

Digital divides and differences:
Most people in Norway have access to a computer and the Internet. Figures from Statistics Norway show that nearly 90 per cent of Norwegian households have one or more computers (SSB 2011). However, although almost everyone has access to a PC and the Internet, there are still large variations in digital skills within different social groups in the population. There is a clear correlation between age, level of education and digital competence. Research also shows that digital skills are linked to people’s relation to the labor market. The digital competence is lower among immigrants, and the competence is especially low amongst immigrant women.

Many are still left behind in today’s digital society. One in four Norwegian master today’s technology only to a minor extent. The corresponding figure for immigrants in Norway is 41 per cent. From 2008 to 2010 there were only small changes in the level of digital competence in the society. A relatively large proportion of the population have limited or no experience in using digital tools. The differences between these groups can be challenging in a society with increasing requirements to digital skills.

Empirical studies – Measuring digital competence:
Vox has analyzed the digital divide through three different surveys in the period 2008 to 2011. The purpose of the surveys was to provide knowledge on the level of computer and internet literacy in the population: Who masters the digital society, and who does not?
The first survey, «The digital citizen – an analysis of the digital competence in the Norwegian population» from 2008, was directed to a representative selection of the Norwegian population above the age of 16. The second survey, «Immigrants Connected» (2010), focused on the six largest immigrant groups in Norway, while the third survey, «Many still left behind» (2011), was a continuation of the first survey conducted in 2008.
Digital competence is defined as “the sum of various digital skills” in all the surveys carried out by Vox. The Studies are inspired by the work of Educational Testing Service (ETS) from 2001, where an international panel reviewed the importance of existing and emerging information and communication technologies, and how various skills could be categorized. The skills were measured on the basis of eight ICT areas.