When thinking about digital inclusion, it is imperative to recognize the importance of relevancy in the communities we serve. Kodiak’s villages all recognize that the Internet offers new opportunities for various reasons. Our children can utilize it to conduct one on one video conferencing with teachers in the city; this offers them the opportunity learn from educators that could not otherwise visit every village. Village elders can utilize telehealth technology to reduce the stress of travel to see a doctor in the city. Business can operate from the remote villages only accessible by aircraft and boat. Alutiiq artists can make a living by selling their traditional arts online and have access cultural content from the Alutiiq community. These all create relevant uses for the internet in the communities that I have been serving. When Asked, “Why digital inclusion?” The answer should be different every time depending on the audience.
In Kodiak, I have had to address relevance for broadband use in our communities. Many people in our villages live a predominantly subsistence lifestyle. This is an Alutiiq value and a cultural tradition on Kodiak that should be preserved. As digital inclusion advocates we must remain sensitive to the cultural consequences of the introduction of the Internet in our communities. It is important for us to understand how the internet can both benefit and harm a community’s culture. We want to bolster and preserve culture with the implementation of broadband and this can be a sensitive subject. However, it offers an opportunity to connect people to resources that could have a dramatic effect on their everyday lives.
Pairing digital literacy training with relevant training opportunities for the broadband can be a powerful tool to show people how the Internet can have a positive effect on their lives. Basic computer literacy can be paired with trainings like, “How to Create an Online Store,” or, “How to Contact Your Doctor on the Internet,” and this can help to gain access to an audience that may, otherwise, not see the benefit of learning computer literacy or using the Internet. Developing relevant training opportunities requires spending time in the communities, understanding what is important to people, and targeting their goals. This will close the digital divide and empower our communities as we help to bring them into the digital age.