30 January 2004 14:35
Press Release 28 January 2004 The final seminar of the OSKU project, 2000-20003 - What we have learned from the Learning Regions project, was held in the Finlandia Hall in Helsinki on Thursday. The project differed from other Sitra projects in that it was oriented especially towards the ordinary citizen and local people. The project has resulted in much new knowledge and information about how the average citizen experiences the information society. “We have learned that, above all, when developing the information society we must use local conditions and local needs as the starting point. Development means learning new ways of acting and working. That takes time and it is no use trying to accelerate the whole process by ordering people along,” says Kari-Pekka Mäki-Lohiluoma, who headed the project. It is essential to persuade the different people involved to cooperate and find common ground. Money is not the answer to everything but the available resources have to be allocated in the right way. “The most important factor when developing the information society is the individual; everything needs to be oriented towards the client. Making information-society skills accessible, in other words training citizens and helping them to use the Internet, plays a key role,” says Mäki-Lohiluoma. OSKU was subjected to careful appraisal both during and after the project. Each regional project and content project as well as OSKU in its entirety were assessed by outside research institutions. The results of this assessment show that the dynamics of developing the information society in practice are much slower and more complex than was thought when OSKU was started. The project is finished but the work goes on Although the OSKU project is now complete, work continues in the regions. We shall try to disseminate what we have learned from OSKU to other parts of Finland. The work needs a supporting network of observations and conclusions to help spread its message. Improving the basic information-society skills of citizens requires a far-reaching exchange of views between both the public and the private sector and unprejudiced experimenting with the division of labour at both regional and local levels. The Finnish-language assessment of the OSKU project (Sitra Report 37) can be found on the Internet at www.oskut.net. It was carried out by Net Effect Oy. About OSKU Sitra carried out the Learning Regions - OSKU - project over the years 2000-2003. The purpose of the project was to create the means by which people living in remote regions far from centres of information technology could be brought into the information society. The OSKU project comprised eight regional projects and six content projects. At its height 150 people were employed on the OSKU project, from project leaders to lay instructors. Each regional project was headed by a control group made up of local actors. Some 200 net stations, free to users, were made available to citizens and a total of 40,000 people were trained to use the citizens’ network. OSKU is Sitra’s largest individual project to date. Further information: Kari-Pekka Mäki-Lohiluoma, tel. +358-50 364 7883 Leni Haavisto, tel. +358-50 566 8075.