What works to improve digital inclusion among resettled refugees?

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Evidence Summary
January 2021

Among digital inclusion programs serving marginalized populations, there is strong evidence for common elements of success as well as common barriers. Programs serving refugees should incorporate these evidence-based elements.

  • Successful digital inclusion programs for marginalized populations share the following characteristics: social support, collaborative learning, hands-on experience, inclusive program design, a multi-faceted approach, and simple user interfaces.
  • There are several common barriers to digital inclusion of marginalized populations: access (connection, speed, and coverage); skill (ability to use hardware and software); and attitude (interest, motivation, and trust).

Among programs serving refugees specifically, suggestive evidence provides support for certain program models.

  • Public libraries, schools, and community centers are vital sources of digital access for refugees. Refugee service providers should collaborate with these sources of digital access and skills training.
  • Laptop and tablet provision programs are also important sources of digital access, and these should be explored by refugee service providers.
  • Digital inclusion of refugees likely occurs intergenerationally. Children in immigrant families serve as digital conduits and interpreters for their parents; yet, children’s computer use may conflict with parental expectations. These intergenerational family implications should be considered in digital inclusion programming.
  • Despite this suggestive evidence, refugee voices are underrepresented in digital inclusion program planning. More participatory project design is needed.

Future research should examine the long-term impacts of digital inclusion, as well as the potential for promoting digital inclusion remotely.

  • Further research is needed on longer-term outcomes of digital inclusion as well as the impact of digital inclusion on other outcomes, such as health and economic well-being.
  • With remote learning increasing, research should examine the potential of digital inclusion via remote learning.
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