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 +# Rural life and learning benefits from the Internet
 +
 +[Moira K Stone](mailto:​mkstone@celtic.co.uk)
 +mkstone@celtic.co.uk wrote this article in 1997
 +
 +[[TOC]]
 +
 +Rural communities can suffer from lack of shops and entertainment,​
 +health and other services, plus high costs of travel. Jobs may be scarce
 +and irregular. Can IT help? Moira Stone surveyed the field and found
 +solutions on several fronts.
 +
 +### Introduction ​
 +
 +People in rural areas can live at some distance from other communities,​
 +settlements,​ villages or towns. There may be only a small number of
 +people and this does not allow the economies of scale which benefit
 +urban residents.
 +
 +In this means many people in rural communities live at some
 +distance from services of all kinds (such as shops and post offices,
 +schools and colleges, doctors, advice and benefit offices, and cinemas
 +and theatres).
 +
 +Although some people in rural areas have well-paid, regular
 +employment, for others work may be scarce, irregular and/or badly paid.
 +Just as in urban areas, it's possible to be poor or deprived.
 +
 +Information technology and the Internet are tools which can help
 +to minimise some of these challenges. In doing so, rural communities can
 +be strengthened - not only geographical communities but also those other
 +groups of which people are members: young people, business, the
 +agricultural community, and so on.
 +
 +The '​snapshots'​ in this article begin to draw out out the
 +benefits and challenges of using the Internet, together with some advice
 +for others thinking of using it.
 +
 +Information and learning ​
 +------------------------
 +
 +Information technology makes it possible for many people in rural areas
 +to find information about a huge range of subjects much more easily and
 +conveniently.
 +
 +### Cousins in Hampshire ​
 +
 +Hampshire County Council'​s Cousin (Community Users Information) service
 +brings a enormous amount of community information to the public, easily,
 +quickly and locally. Anyone can 'ask their Cousin'​ for a contact name
 +for anything from beekeeping to waste recycling. Cousin harnesses the
 +power of technology to bring together half a dozen or more local
 +directories from local authorities,​ health service providers, business,
 +voluntary agencies and charities. It can be accessed from different
 +places including information centres, local information points,
 +libraries and schools
 +
 +David Walden, the director of Age Concern Hampshire says: 'We
 +welcome Cousin as an important new resource. All our outlets are in the
 +directory. Through Cousin we can raise awareness of the services we
 +provide, recruit volunteers for our branches and inform our clients
 +about what's available to them. Cousin takes voluntary service into the
 +information age and we're delighted to be part of that.'
 +
 +E-mail: [Hantsweb@hants.gov.uk](mailto:​Hantsweb@hants.gov.uk)
 +
 +Web-site: [http://​www.hants.gov.uk/​](http://​www.hants.gov.uk/​)
 +
 +### LOIS in Hereford and Worcester ​
 +
 +The Hereford and Worcester Library Online Information Service (LOIS)
 +began in March 1993 as the Golden Valley Information Project. This
 +tested the feasibility of providing electronic information services to
 +the Golden Valley area, a relatively isolated area which is home to
 +about 2,500 people.
 +
 +Computer terminals which could access external databases were
 +put in public places such as village post offices, a shop and a resource
 +centre. The public'​s response to this, together with other information,​
 +has led to a strategy to place public computer terminals throughout the
 +county.
 +
 +Among the benefits of LOIS are that **p**eople can now find out
 +information from train times across the country and entertainment
 +listings to education courses and benefits details. All of this would
 +have been difficult to find before. Job vacancies within local
 +government are posted weekly. Soon other job vacancies will be
 +advertised and, in time, schools'​ prospectuses.
 +
 +However, there are challenges. **F**inding the right place to
 +put a public computer terminal can be difficult in a rural area. Even
 +when somewhere is found circumstances can change. A room in a school
 +worked well for a time, for example, but eventually it was needed for
 +other purposes. The post office might seem an ideal location but in some
 +communities it's only open in the morning.
 +
 +Those developing LOIS spent a lot of time in discussing with
 +residents of Golden Valley the types of information they needed. David
 +Morris of Hereford and Worcester'​s Library Online Information Service
 +suggests: 'Give it time for people to become comfortable with the
 +technology.
 +
 +E-mail: [dmorris@tacin.co.uk](mailto:​dmorris@tacin.co.uk)
 +
 +LOIS web-site: [http://​www.open.gov.uk/​hereford/​homepage.html](http://​www.open.gov.uk/​hereford/​homepage.html)
 +
 +Golden Valley web-site: [http://​www.open.gov.uk/​hereford/​gvishome.htm](http://​www.open.gov.uk/​hereford/​gvishome.htm)
 +
 +### University of Highlands and Islands ​
 +
 +Information technology now makes it possible for students to choose from
 +a wider range of subjects at all levels, whether they live in a city or
 +a small rural community. There'​s less of a need for a knowledgeable
 +teacher or resources to be available locally or for there to be enough
 +students to make running a course economical. The technology makes it
 +possible for teaching to be delivered from urban or larger centres to
 +smaller ones. Students from small schools in the Highlands and Islands
 +of Scotland, for example, join with others in taking lessons, preparing
 +for exams and talking to friends all round the world. In West Wales,
 +eight schools are taking part in a pilot project about remote sensing
 +and geography. The schools make use of a large archive of remotely
 +sensed images from the Satellite Centre, together with image-processing
 +software and support on using it. Video-conferencing allows them to
 +share data.
 +
 +The ambitious University of Highlands and Islands project will
 +use technology to link 11 further education collges and research
 +institutions. '​Distance learning'​ techniques such as video and computer
 +conferences will be used by students across an area bigger than Belgium.
 +The first UHI network degree will be one in rural development. Sabhal
 +Mór Ostaig, the Gaelic-medium college on Skye, is part of the
 +developing network. It has developed a web-site so that it can become a
 +centre for providing information in and about Gaidhlig (Scottish Gaelic)
 +and to advertise the college and its courses across the world.
 +
 +University of the Highlands and Islands web-site: [http://​www.uhi.ac.uk/​en](http://​www.uhi.ac.uk/​en)
 +
 +Sabhal Mór Ostaig web-site: [http://​www.uhi.smo.ac.uk](http://​www.uhi.smo.ac.uk/​)
 +
 +### North East Scotland Telematics Forum 
 +
 +NEST, the North East Scotland Telematics Forum is currently running an
 +innovative training programme, the Telematics Competence Programme, on
 +behalf of Community Business Grampian Limited. It leads to three units
 +of the Information Technology Scottish Vocational Qualification and may
 +be the first in Britain to provide a formal qualification in telematics.
 +A team of participants work together on a project usually destined to be
 +placed on the Internet. What makes it unique is that they work from home
 +or resource centres around the region and only meet four times, for
 +workshops at the Northern College in Aberdeen. Course tutors stay in
 +touch by e-mail and by personal visits and all course work is
 +transferred electronically to them.
 +
 +Web-site: [http://​regionlink.com/​grampian/​gtp/​tele.htm](http://​regionlink.com/​grampian/​gtp/​tele.htm)
 +
 +Making links and having a voice 
 +-------------------------------
 +
 +One of the possibilities offered by the Internet is for community to
 +talk to community.
 +
 +### Network 2000
 +
 +Network 2000 in Devon and Cornwall is based on the recognition that work
 +in society is changing and that people need a range of skills to
 +accompany them throughout their lives. Interactive and visual skills
 +connected with telematics (information technology and
 +telecommunications) are part of this range. Network 2000 believes,
 +therefore, that training and '​learning for life' are the key, both to
 +individual development and to the future prosperity of the South
 +West.
 +
 +The Network also promotes direct access. In January 1996 a
 +number of rural community strategic organisations took part in a live
 +satellite and video-conferencing link-up with Jimmy Jamar, the head of
 +the European Lifelong Learning Year event. People from Devon and
 +Cornwall were able to question him directly without editing.
 +
 +A European Training by Satellite project links rural areas in
 +Devon and Cornwall with rural clusters in Finland, Denmark, Spain,
 +Sicily and a number of other European partners. The project is creating
 +joint training programmes for the tourism sector in rural areas using
 +satellite television. With simply a telephone in the same room as the
 +television, people are able to contribute by telephone. Where groups
 +also have video-conferencing facilities, they can take part '​visually'​
 +from their own area and be broadcast simultaneously across Europe by
 +satellite.
 +
 +The most recent broadcast of this type (called '​co-terminus
 +ISDN/​satellite broadcast'​) took place in October 1996 from the ITN
 +building in London. Even seasoned business television broadcasters were
 +impressed. One of whom said: 'In all the years I've been broadcasting,​
 +I've never actually seen the audience come back to us and know who they
 +are.'
 +
 +Christine Fraser of Network 2000 comments: 'When you take part
 +in projects like this which reach out to you, then you have to be active
 +rather than passive. "​Interactivity"​ itself is a challenge.
 +
 +E-mail: [christin@net2000.zynet.co.uk](mailto:​christin@net2000.zynet.co.uk)
 +
 +Lifelong learning event web-site: [http://​www.zynet.co.uk/​net2000/​](http://​www.zynet.co.uk/​net2000/​)
 +
 +### Western Isles internet café ​
 +
 +Angus and Mairi Mackenzie have got a unique location for children'​s
 +parties. And a collection of football memorabilia. They run the Western
 +Isles internet café in Stornoway, the first in the Western Isles and
 +only the fifth in Scotland. The café has been open since March 1996 and
 +has five multi-media PCs with 17" screens available for the public to
 +come in and use to get onto the net. People of all ages use the café
 +although, at present, three-quarters are between 10 and 17 years old.
 +Angus and Mairi Mackenzie say: 'We are more than happy to pass e-mail
 +messages on to others on Lewis on your behalf.'​ It's no more than you'd
 +do if you found a person in common with someone you met whilst
 +travelling but also a good marketing device.
 +
 +Among the benefits are that the Internet offers people in rural
 +communities 'an instant information access and communication method, not
 +disrupted by postal strikes, adverse weather or non-sailing of the
 +ferry! Children can further their education by corresponding with people
 +all over the world.'​
 +
 +E-mail: [bayble@captions.co.uk](mailto:​bayble@captions.co.uk) Web-site: [http://​www.captions.co.uk/​](http://​www.captions.co.uk/​)
 +
 +### County Mayo
 +
 +In County Mayo in the west of Ireland Roisin Hambly (aged 14) puts
 +together her global e-zine with the help of her father. It's called
 +Roizine. The magazine has sections on entertainment,​ poetry, short
 +stories and stars or you can find an e-pal. There are links to pages
 +about Mayo.
 +
 +Roisin says: 'The benefits of the net are that I get to contact
 +lots of interesting people all over the world and see the homepages they
 +themselves have made. I've got loads of e-pals and I've learnt a lot
 +about different cultures and I've made great friends. The benefits of my
 +magazine to me are that it's a hobby; it's interesting reading other
 +people'​s work; knowing that at anytime, someone, somewhere could be
 +looking at my magazine. The benefits to others are that they get a
 +chance to put their work in a magazine that can be looked at by anyone;
 +they can find e-pals easily; they get an insight into Irish life.'
 +
 +She adds: I've only been on the net since April or May and I
 +think for a while I was really addicted! There'​s no end of things you
 +can find, it's very helpful for some school work or if you're interested
 +in contacting people in different countries. It's really easy to get the
 +hang of it - even my mother can use it and she hates computers! When I
 +first started up my magazine it had about three pages and one person on
 +the e-pal page. It took a fair bit of work to get it off the ground but
 +once people started to find it and send in their work it got bigger and
 +better. Now when I have to make changes it doesn'​t take long. I'm really
 +glad I set up my magazine and I think anyone who's thinking about it
 +should definitely give it a go.
 +
 +E-mail: [editor@mayo-ireland.ie](mailto:​editor@mayo-ireland.ie) ​
 +
 +Web-site: [http://​www.mayo-ireland.ie/​Roizine.htm](http://​www.mayo-ireland.ie/​Roizine.htm)
 +
 +
 +Earning a living ​
 +----------------
 +
 +Most businesses operating and employing people in rural areas are small
 +and that includes tourism and accommodation businesses. How do they make
 +sure they stay in business and make a profit, thereby putting money into
 +the local economy? How do they market their product effectively?​ Being
 +part of an umbrella organisation is one way. Using the Internet as a
 +marketing tool to convert interest from anywhere in the world into an
 +immediate sale is another.
 +
 +It's an easy mistake to think that only farming happens on
 +farms. Many, if not all, farms have always had more than one source of
 +income and that has become increasingly important. Tourism is an area
 +into which many farms have diversified,​ whether by providing bed and
 +breakfast accommodation or tourist activities.
 +
 +### Farm Holiday Bureau ​
 +
 +The Farm Holiday Bureau is a network of over 1,000 farms which provide
 +bed and breakfast or self-catering accommodation in England, Scotland,
 +Wales and Northern Ireland. In the last year (1995-96) it has put its
 +400-page guide to members on the world-wide web. Each member can also
 +pay an annual fee of between £35 and £40 to have their own page which
 +usually incorporates a picture of the farm. Webscape, the Bureau'​s
 +Internet provider, then links the farmhouses to make sure that pages are
 +visited. In addition, the information is available in Japanese on a
 +Japanese web-server. (Webscape is also the service provider for the
 +Icelandic Farm Holiday Bureau.)
 +
 +Visitors to the Bureau'​s pages can order a copy of the printed
 +guide and be put on the e-mail news list. They can make bookings using
 +e-mail or fax directly from the Internet, if farms have either of these
 +facilities.
 +
 +In the year in which the service has been running, there have
 +been 25,000 visitors to one or more of the Farm Holiday Bureau pages,
 +equivalent to the number of printed guides sold. Visits are made not
 +only via the first of the web pages (its 'front door') but also directly
 +to farms' own pages. Small bed and breakfast operations are getting
 +world-wide advertising at an affordable price.
 +
 +Roger Phillips of Webscape suggests: 'Start with a small site
 +which can cost as little as £50 a year. Then decide whether and how you
 +want to expand it. Let it expand naturally.
 +
 +E-mail: [info@fhbaccom.demon.co.uk](mailto:​info@fhbaccom.demon.co.uk)\ ​
 +
 +Farm Holiday Bureau web-site: [http://​www.webscape.co.uk/​farmaccom/​](http://​www.webscape.co.uk/​farmaccom/​)\ ​
 +
 +Japanese version: [http://​www.aandepro.com/​farmholiday/​](http://​www.aandepro.com/​farmholiday/​)\ ​
 +
 +Icelandic Farm Holiday Bureau web-site: [http://​www.webscape.co.uk/​iceland/​](http://​www.webscape.co.uk/​iceland/​)
 +
 +### Bicycle Beano
 +
 +'It was the quietness that was heard most, broken only by the sound of a
 +cow lowing, or the breeze stirring the trees and the crunch of gravel
 +under our tires.'​ So wrote the New York Times about a cycling holiday
 +organised by Bicycle Beano in Mid Wales and the Marches area of
 +England.
 +
 +In order to target potential customers in North America and
 +Europe (particularly Germany) Jane Barnes and Rob Green decided to be
 +ahead of the game and put their brochure on the world-wide web in May
 +1995. Potential customers can browse through the brochure, choose a
 +holiday and then make a booking. At present this is done by printing out
 +the booking form and sending a deposit by post although provisional
 +bookings can be made by e-mail. There are plans to have a multi-lingual
 +site.
 +
 +Direct marketing abroad is often too expensive and
 +time-consuming for small rural businesses but the world-wide web makes
 +it possible to reach individual potential customers. People are able to
 +respond immediately and make a booking. In the future, Bicycle Beano
 +will certainly save on costs, especially postage abroad and printing
 +brochures.
 +
 +Jane Barnes says: 'You have to make sure that your pages are
 +quick to load but still look good. We've gone for a black background
 +which shows up our photos nicely. You also have to work hard to make
 +sure that your site is visited - by sending information around to the
 +major search engines and other sites.
 +
 +Jane offers this advice: 'Count the cost because doing it
 +properly will cost more than just buying the basic kit. You have to
 +decide if you think it's going to be worthwhile. And you won't get it
 +right in the first year!
 +E-mail: [bicycle@beano.kc3Ltd.co.uk](mailto:​bicycle@beano.kc3Ltd.co.uk)\ ​
 +
 +Web-site: [http://​www.kc3Ltd.co.uk/​local/​beano/​](http://​www.kc3Ltd.co.uk/​local/​beano/​)
 +
 +
 +More information
 +----------------
 +
 +### AeRIE - Applied Rural Telecom Resource Guide
 +
 +Web-site: [http://​www.yampa.com/​aerie/​resource/​resource.html](http://​www.yampa.com/​aerie/​resource/​resource.html)
 +
 +The guide provides rural communities throughout the United
 +States and the world with a toolkit of resources to help them meet their
 +economic and community development goals using telecommunications. The
 +guide offers a directory of economic development resources, an overview
 +of basic telecommunications concepts, a schedule of forthcoming
 +conferences and events, and background information on rural
 +infrastructure.
 +
 +### LEADER
 +
 +NiAA (Northern Informatics Applications Agency)
 +
 +### Scottish Teleworking Association ​
 +
 +E-mail: <​100447.1113@compuserve.com>​
 +
 +### TCA
 +
 +E-mail: [100272.3137@compuserve.com](mailto:​100272.3137@compuserve.com)\ Web-site: http://​www.tca.org.uk/​
 +
 +### Telecottages Wales
 +
 +E-mail: <​74431.1372@compuserve.com>​\ Web-site: <​http://​www.telecottages.org/>​
 +
 +### Telework Ireland
 +
 +E-mail: <​100272.1472@compuserve.com>​
 +
 +<​http://​www.cis.ie/​tci/>​
 +
  
partnerships/articles/rural1.txt · Last modified: 2017/06/12 10:20 (external edit)