This glossary is intended to be used as a tool for MEDICI catalogue users and members of the knowledge community. It provides the definitions of many common terms used in the catalogue. The glossary should be used as a resource to draw upon when using the catalogue or engaging with the knowledge community. Users are welcome to share the glossary with others as a tool to aid those working in digital inclusion. The definitions given here are specific to the words’ usage in relation to digital inclusion, social policy, and evaluation, so may differ from some definitions given elsewhere. For the sake of brevity, the glossary uses the word intervention to describe any project, programme, policy, scheme or set of activities aimed at addressing digital inclusion.
- Accessibility is how easily technologies can be used by different users with different needs. For example, whether people with particular disabilities can use particular technologies, or whether the relevant assistive technologies are available.
- Assistive technologies
- Assistive technologies are equipment, devices or software which adapt technologies for use by older or disabled people. Common examples include text-to-speech and word prediction software.
- When there is a causal link between an intervention and an outcome.
- A barrier is an obstacle preventing someone from achieving something. For example, lack of assistive technologies can be a barrier to disabled people accessing the internet.
- A beneficiary is someone who receives an advantage from something (e.g. a digital exclusion intervention).
- Coding is the creation of computer programming codes, whereby people communicate with and give instructions to computers.
- Connectivity is the access people have to the internet and necessary technology.
- This is the relationship between one event and another that can be demonstrated to be due to cause and effect. Evaluations may aim (where possible) to measure whether outcomes are caused by interventions rather than being due to other external causes.
- Comparison group
- A group chosen in evaluation studies to be similar to an experimental group (also called an intervention group) except for the variable being tested. For example, an evaluation of a digital inclusion intervention may want to create a comparison group of individuals who are similar to the people receiving the intervention as much as possible, except for receiving the intervention. Comparison groups are commonly used in quasi-experimental designs.
- Digital confidence
- Digital confidence is the belief an individual has that they will be safe and competent in using digital technologies.
- Digital divide
- The digital divide is the gap in digital inclusion and access between different demographic groups (most often used to refer to the divide between digital inclusion between older and younger people).
- Digital exclusion
- Digital exclusion is the broader set of disadvantages which accompany an inability or unwillingness to use digital technologies.
- Digital inclusion
- Digital inclusion is the ability of individuals and groups to access and use information and communication technologies. This includes having access to affordable technologies, motivation to use them, the requisite skills to use them and the trust that using digital technologies is safe and worthwhile.
- Digital motivation
- Digital motivation is the ability and willingness of an individual to understand how digital technologies could be relevant and bring advantages to them.
- Digital natives
- Digital natives are people who grew up with digital technologies, so are instinctively more able to understand and make use of digital technologies.
- Digital Skills
- Digital skills are the abilities required to use digital devices such as smart phones, computers and the internet.
- Digital technology
- A digital technology is a computerised, electronic device, tool, system or resource.
- An evaluation is the application of research methods to understand how an intervention has developed against its aims (process) and/or if it works or otherwise.
- Economic evaluation
- An evaluation focusing on the economic costs associated with an intervention. Economic evaluations often make use of cost-effectiveness analysis or cost-benefit analysis.
- The extent to which a specific intervention, when used in the circumstances it was designed for, does what it is intended to do.
- Ethics deals with moral principles and the protection of participants. An important feature of ethics in evaluation is that the participant should not be harmed by their involvement.
- Evidence base
- The research that is available to support and/or direct an approach to digital inclusion or any other
- External evaluation
- Evaluation carried out by organisations/people who are not involved in the project or programme in question. This can be considered to be more independent but can also be less successful in engaging participants in any resultant change.
- Experimental design
- An evaluation approach which involves allocating people to group, often randomly, who will receive different treatment for the purposes of studying the impacts of the treatments. See also: Randomised Control Trials (RCTs) and quasi-experimental designs.
- Generalisability (external validity)
- This determines when and to what extent results gained in one setting or for one population can be used in another and, if not, what adaptations might have to be made to replicate the results.
- Good practice
- A good practice is an intervention, method, or technique which is currently considered superior to alternatives because it is more appropriate and/or produces better outcomes.
- Information and Communication Technology.
- In a non-medical/non clinical context, an intervention is a deliberate attempt by a person or organisation to influence the behaviour of or achieve positive outcomes for a group of people. This can be a policy, project, programme, model of working or set of activities.
- Impacts are the long-term effects produced by an intervention or activity. They can be direct, indirect, intended or unintended.
- In evaluation terms, this is the resources required to achieve the intended objectives.
- Routine and systematic collection of information and checking against a plan. The information might be about activities, products or services, or about outside factors affecting the organisation or project.
- Not in Employment, Education or Training.
- The goals of the intervention set out at the beginning of the evaluation.
- Outcomes are the longer-term effects of interventions.
- Outputs are the accomplishment or product of the activity. For example, number of individuals who received digital skills training. They relate to ‘what we do and who we reach’ whereas outcomes refer to ‘what difference there is’.
- Qualitative research
- Qualitative research aims to explore and understand in depth elements of social life. Qualitative methods (in general) generate words, rather than numbers, as data for analysis. Common examples include interviews, focus groups and documentary analysis.
- Quantitative research
- Quantitative research aims to explore and understand a breadth of information about elements of social life. Quantitative methods (in general) generate data in numeric form. Common examples include questionnaires, surveys and administrative data. Data are summarised and analysed often but not always using statistical techniques (for example, averages and means, multiple regressions, ANOVA – Analysis of variance).
- Quasi-experimental design
- Quasi-experimental research shares similarities with the traditional experimental design or randomised controlled trial, but with no random assignment between intervention or control groups.
- Randomised control trials (RCT)
- RCTs are a research design involving the random allocation of individuals, groups, or local areas to receive an intervention or not through a purely random mechanism resulting in two groups. One of these will be comparison or control, which may receive an existing, standard practice, a placebo, or no intervention at all.
- Replicability is the extent to which something (e.g. an intervention) can be copied or reproduced in a similar or different context.
- Social exclusion
- Social exclusion is when an individual or group has reduced opportunity to access and participate in the goods, services, and relationships afforded to the broader population.
- Social inclusion
- Social inclusion is the opportunity to participate in any and all aspects of society.
- A stakeholder is an individual, group or organisation that has a direct interest/investment in an intervention, project or programme, and can therefore affect or be affected by it.
- Science, technology, engineering and mathematics
- Sustainability is the extent to which the benefits of an intervention can be maintained in the longer term or under different funding circumstances.
- Theory of Change (ToC)
- A Theory of Change is a means of summarising and describing work at a strategic level, giving the ‘big picture’ of the context it takes place in, what it aims to achieve and how it aims to achieve it. It is both explanatory and predictive, and often includes a narrative description and logic model of an intervention. The narrative and model show the different ways in which the work in question might lead to change, explain how and why the change happens, link inputs with outputs and explore the assumptions which underpin the approach on display.
- Theory-based evaluation
- This sets out to understand and systematically test and refine an assumed connection (i.e. the theory) between an intervention and its anticipated impacts. Theory-based evaluations work with the links between activities, outcomes and context of an intervention to evidence how and why it might cause an effect. It investigates the causal relationships between the context-input-output-outcomes-impact to understand the combination of factors that has led to the intended or unintended outcomes and impacts and is refined throughout the evaluation process.