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How to carry out a digital skills survey

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Use this page when you're preparing to carry out a digital skills survey. It applies when surveying staff, leadership and trustees, and volunteers. This page can be used as part of a process to work out digital skills needs.

When charities are progressing with digital, both confidence and skills increase together. The result is people being better able to do their jobs or fulfil their roles. Measure where you are on digital skills and confidence before thinking about making improvements.

Use digital surveys to:

  • assess the level of skills within your organisation
  • assess the level of confidence in using digital tools and platforms
  • recognise any barriers to using digital
  • identify learning styles to plan effective digital training and support.

Choosing and using a rating scale

You're asking people to respond to questions based on perception. You must choose and use a digital scale for this approach to work. It will provide a benchmark against which you can track progress to show distance travelled throughout your programme.

Digital scales vary from informal to formal in the way the ratings are phrased and presented. But the principles are the same.

  • The lowest end of the scale marks digital task avoidance, low confidence and a training need.
  • The highest end of the scale marks effective use of digital to complete tasks, high confidence, and the ability to share knowledge with others.

Developing a rating scale

The first step is to set the numbers on your rating scales. They plot staff, trustee and volunteer positions. Each one will have a description of the skills and confidence levels sitting behind it. See below for an example.

1 — Digital tools and platforms cause panic and task avoidance.

2 — Lacking skills and confidence to try new approaches or tools.

3 — Basic skills for daily tasks but doesn’t include digital in longer-term planning.

4 — Some skills gaps but keen and seeks learning opportunities.

5 — Skilled and confident, influences and supports others to try digital.

These aren’t revealed to the people completing the survey. They could knock their confidence. Instead, apply simple phrases to help them assess their skills and confidence.

Example of informal wording for a rating scale

1 — Digital scares me.

2 — Digital just isn’t for me.

3 — Digital is useful, sometimes.

4 — Digital is exciting.

5 — Digital's just the way I do things.

Example of formal wording for a rating scale

1 — Willing unable

2 — Reluctantly online

3 — Task specific

4 — Confident

5 — Expert

Settle on a style of language for your rating positions. Choose one from above that'll work best in your organisation or create your own.

Things a digital skills survey includes

Your digital skills survey needs to include the following.

Basic details

Basic details include name, team, job title. Avoid asking for too much information, especially if you can get it from another source.

Role information

Ask people what they need to do as part of their role. It’s good practice to provide this as a list of tasks. It'll give you a better understanding of their role and what sort of training and support they may need.

Barriers or missed opportunities

Ask people to explain what’s stopped them using digital in their work. This will help you identify potential barriers or challenges that'll need to be overcome.

How people feel

Ask people to rate how they feel about the programme as a whole. This'll give you a good indication of how they feel about digital in general.

Learning styles

Everyone learns in different ways. Ask people how they'd react if they were asked to do certain tasks. These should relate to sessions you’re thinking of running. Asking people about their preferred learning styles provides insight into your organisation’s learning culture.

Other comments

Invite people to add any other comments, ideas, feedback or questions about the programme. Giving people the opportunity to provide feedback will make them feel valued and included.

Digital skills survey template

You can use this Word template to create your own survey. Send it as a text document or hand it out as a printed page. You'll need to replace the suggested questions with your own versions. That’ll make it more useful to your organisation.

Alternatively, you can use the questions from the template to create your own version in your preferred survey tool.

There’s advice on choosing and using survey builders here.

You can also use our advice on writing surveys and questionnaires in general. This'll help you word your questions well and help you understand the results you get. Guide to using questionnaires.

What to do with digital survey results

There are some key steps to effective use of digital survey results.

  1. Plot. Once you’ve done your survey you can plot people on the scale based on their responses.
  2. Plan. The results will show priority training needs and potential barriers. Adapt your digital programme to address these.
  3. Deliver. Use the learning styles results to offer appropriate training.
  4. Measure. Revisit the survey to track any shift in numbers by the end of the programme.
  5. Repeat. Digital changes rapidly so it’s worth supporting continuous improvement.

Last reviewed: 02 March 2021

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This page was last reviewed for accuracy on 02 March 2021

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