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Issue 13 July 2008   Monday, July 21, 2008

ISSN 1748-3603

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Bridging the Digital Divide in the UK’s Greenest City
by Matthew Chilcott

A free access e-case study resource that shares some of the secrets of the UK’s Greenest City has been released by The Institute of Digital Learning at the University of Wales, Newport. The case study focuses on the eInclusion Computer Recycling Community Interest Company.
In October 2007, research undertaken by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) identified that Newport in South Wales could claim to be the UK’s greenest city (WWF, 2007). The WWF report highlighted that Newport uses fewer natural resources than any other urban centre. It also revealed that Welsh cities are, on average, greener than their English and Scottish counterparts.
‘eInclusion Recycling: Bridging the Digital Divide in the UK’s Greenest City’, is an e-case study published by the Institute of Digital Learning at University of Wales, Newport. The case study highlights the key roles that active citizenship, social enterprise and technology have played in making the City of Newport a leader in green enterprise. It has been designed to awareness raise and cascade knowledge about an innovative form of green social enterprise, pioneered by eInclusion Recycling, a community interest company. The eInclusion Recycling project has had significant impact on Newport’s communities, businesses, environment and on addressing of the digital divide in Wales’ third largest City.
Background and context
The Digital Inclusion Wales conference held in Cardiff in March 2008, hosted by Communities @ One, showcased the outcomes of a wide range of community activities and approaches that had proved effective in addressing elements of the digital divide in Wales. The event also identified that such successful outcomes placed Wales in a leading position to address the digital divide in a European context. It was announced that the future round of European Convergence funding to support further activity in Wales would seek to unite community-based digital inclusion activity with active citizenship goals. Through new inclusion projects, Welsh communities would be encouraged to utilise the digital resources now available in their communities and to instigate new forms of social enterprise activity. 
At the same time, and as part of the Welsh Assembly Government’s sustainable development measures, in May 2008, Wales became the first Country in world to formally report on its ecological footprint: the measure of its impact on the planet’s resources. By 2020, Wales aims for renewable energy sources to provide all of its electricity supplies. During the same month, the Welsh Assembly Government’s Environment Minister announced a £3 million investment in Community based recycling and re-use targets. Social enterprise and business development will again be at the forefront of this community investment. The eInclusion Recycling e-case study meets a knowledge transfer need for a combination of these goals. The resource informs educators, students, local authorities and the community development and voluntary sectors about a transferable model to help meet these collective social enterprise start-up goals.
The e-case study explores the impact that the work of eInclusion Recycling has had in Newport to date. The innovative community-owned business seeks to bridge the digital divide in Newport through support for businesses and households in recycling their computer hardware. The case study reveals how enterprising communities can be. It shows how traditionally excluded members of society can make full and rewarding contributions to their communities, in partnership with technology, within new and exciting forms of enterprise. The case study is complemented by an interactive digital manual, published via Yudu Freedom. This provides the context of the company and details eInclusion’s social inclusion through technology programme, the Community Interest Company business model and provides interim reports on the health of the company. The manual also highlights the need for greater international community and government engagement with the Global toxic trade eWaste catastrophe.

The Institute of Digital Learning team have a range of experience in developing diversity and inclusion and workplace digital learning materials for a broad spectrum of UK and international users. Proven delivery approaches have therefore been applied to the eInclusion Recycling e-case study. The e-case study was developed using Flash. It has 4 chapters:
i) An introduction to the business by the founder of eInclusion Recycling - Julie Traynor.
ii) An overview of the impact of the company from key stakeholders.
iii) A detailed interview with members of the eInclusion Recycling team who explain how their business model is helping to bridge the digital divide in Newport.
iv) An exploratory interview with members of the core team on the Community Interest Company business model and the ownership of the business by the community it serves.

Figure 1: Screenshot from the e-case study

Deployment and access
The e-Case Study was officially launched at the RSC Wales-facilitated Moodle Moot in July 2008. It is available as a web-based resource that educators can integrate directly into their institutional virtual learning envionments. Whilst this publication format will fulfil the needs of the education community, the Institute of Digital Learning team are conscious of the need to provide access to the same materials in hard copy to make them accessible in community libraries, learning centres and other public sector organisations (due to firewall restrictions, for example). Funding is therefore being investigated to support the need for this form of publication.  
Example Applications
A new Centre for Excellence in Learning and Teaching (CELT) at the University of Wales, Newport, has been created to stimulate academic research in higher education pedagogy. Current research themes include methods for embedding issues of Sustainable Development and Global Citizenship (SDGC) within the university curriculum.
The Welsh Assembly Government and Higher Education Funding Council for Wales are leading the UK in pushing the SDGC education agenda forward in higher education and the University of Wales, Newport, aims to be at the forefront of this initiative. The Newport CELT will co-ordinate pedagogic research teams, comprising academic staff from across the University’s four Schools, which will undertake extensive reviews of existing practice and analyse these data to inform the development of new pedagogic approaches to embedding SDGC content within courses from all subject areas of the University curriculum. It is intended that the eInclusion Recycling e-case study will constitute one of a number of learning resources, designed with interdisciplinary application, in supporting University-wide academic subject teams to enrich their curriculum with the SDGC concepts raised in the piece. 
Researchers in the Newport Business School are undertaking investigation into the eInclusion Recycling business concept and its impact. Students on the University’s MBA programme (delivered at Newport and around the world) will also have an opportunity to explore the e-case study in Welsh innovation in a green social enterprise context and to investigate how the business model can be internationalised. The company’s ethos, goals and activity may also offer an effective method in seeking to address the growing social and environmental impact of the toxic problem of ‘e-waste’ and dealing effectively with the world’s discarded technologies.    
The University of Wales, Newport, will also be making full use of the case study to help promote social enterprise to students across the University as an exciting and rewarding alternative form of graduate career opportunity.
The Future
At a time when intellectual property rights and company disclosure can sometimes impede the sharing of ideas, it has been liberating to work with eInclusion Recycling, whose ethos involves the desire to cascade their effective practice and nationalise and internationalise their business model to the benefit of other individuals, communities and the environment.
The eInclusion Recycling business model has already been applied in new authorities in Wales and Newport’s company will shortly be joined by a replica Community Interest Company in Merthyr Tydfil.
A further response is being provided to the social enterprise skills development needs of Welsh communities to meet both Digital Inclusion and Community Recycling social enterprise goals in Wales. It is now intended that the Institute of Digital Learning in collaboration with RISE (the UK’s largest learning network) will collaborate with leading organisations (such as the Wales Cooperative Centre team, Community Enterprise Wales and the Social Enterprise Ambassador UK). They will be developing a social/community enterprise awareness-raising e-toolkit as a tool for community development practitioners. This will follow a similar design and free access philosophy. 
For direct on demand free access the case study please visit:

Matthew Chilcott,
Institute of Digital Learning
University of Wales, Newport

Further information 
eInclusion Recycling is a new form of social enterprise known as a Community Interest Company (CIC). The company is owned by the Community it serves and is a fully licensed computer recycling facility which adheres to stringent environmental policy to facilitate the protection of the local environment and the environment of developing countries.  
The company operates a socially responsible business policy that uses their business as a force for social change. Central to this work are the Social Inclusion programmes which facilitate the Newport Community in coming together to eradicate social exclusion through the vehicle of computer recycling. These programmes provide individuals and communities with technology and expertise to assist them in creating opportunities for themselves and their communities.
For direct access to the company and its services please visit:
The University of Wales, Newport is a leading Community University engaged in flagship community engagement and development initiatives across the region of South East Wales. The University is at the forefront in embracing enterprise and entrepreneurship across all of the subjects taught at Newport. To find out more please visit:
The Institute of Digital Learning at Newport seek to ‘enable education research and development in the digital age’. The Institute has a recognised specialism in applying the latest digital learning tools to develop on line learning across a broad spectrum of curriculum areas, delivery and accreditation levels. To find out more please visit:
For further information about the research findings supporting Newport’s identification as the UK’s greenest city please visit:
For further information about Communities @ One and the outcomes of the Digital Inclusion Wales 2008 conference please visit:
For further information about the Welsh Assembly Government’s Community Recycling and social enterprise initiatives please visit:
For direct access to further details about the HEFCW’s Sustainable Development and Global Citizenship agenda please visit:
To access the HEFCW’s April 2008 Enhancing Learning and Teaching Through Technology: a Strategy for Higher Education in Wales publication please visit:
For background information about the lead developer for the e-Case Study – Jo Hartwig please visit:
For background information about the author of this feature – Matt Chilcott please visit:

WWF(2007) Ecological footprintof British city residents: [accessed 17/7/08]

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