Sometimes success and failure are separated by a hair's breadth

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Sometimes success and failure are separated by a hair's breadth

The Journey to Here ... or Why We Nearly Didn't Make It.

Playbase grew out of the playgroup movement some 20 years ago. Parents who were passionate about the importance of play in the development of the early years child, put together courses that were a response to the expressed needs of the groups of parents with which they were working. Playbase has continued to grow its core services in line with the changing needs of its students ever since.

Two years ago we realised that we needed to respond to the changes in the digital world by improving our own skills and finding ways to help our students to improve theirs. A report by the Royal Edinburgh Society told us that one in 5 Scottish adults did not have basic digital skills or were not online. We also learnt that 44% of larger companies put ALL of their job vacancies online. We felt that, if we could help our students improve their digital skills and awareness at the same time as they were attending our child care courses, then we would be truly helping them on the path to further education, training or employment, to accessing services, to finding out about jobs, to becoming fully included digital citizens.

So we set out on a journey - a quest. What did we need to do to become more digitally literate? What could we do to help our students improve their digital literacy? What stood in our way? Resources, actually, or a lack of them. A working computer. Two working computers. A chance to trial our idea with our client group and to find out what they thought about it - about us. And here we have the People’s Postcode Trust to thank for buying us our two computers and funding a pilot course to test the idea out with our students at North Edinburgh Arts.

Communication. We were not very good at it. We know this because Just Enterprise told us so. And helped us to get better at it. We needed to be able to tell the public what we had to offer - Just Enterprise called it marketing. They told us to explain ourselves more clearly, so we did, but it took a long time. Because of the support from Just Enterprise we were able to see where we needed to go next.

We needed to be able to access the skills that our staff possessed and that meant more hours. If we had more hours we could capture our vision and create a service that would reach the whole of Scotland. We could put our courses - courses that reach parents, grandparents and carers and give them skills at a time when they need it - online, at their digital fingertips. We could offer a path to accredited learning locally, as a classroom based service and further afield, via an online learning platform. People in remoter areas could get a Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework Level 3 qualification at home, whilst their child was very young, so that they would be ready to access further opportunities when and if they wished. Mums and Dads who could not attend a class could study at home in their own time.

Play. And how could we be playful at the same time? How could we create something that was helpful to people and might make them use a digital resource more frequently? Something that would help to build their confidence around using a smartphone or the web? So we also piloted a simple app called ‘What Will We Do Today?’ An app that suggested a quality play activity that parents, grandparents and carers could use to explore different ideas that would help them to help their child, learn through play.

Well, we got our staff hours through three years funding support from the Robertson Trust but there was a point it nearly didn’t happen. It was over a very scary period of about two or three weeks. We needed time, and we didn’t have any. We needed to be able to fund some staff hours to complete a funding application that had the potential of changing everything. It is here that we have to thank the Nigel Bruce Charitable Trust who donated a small, strategic and very timely grant that made all the difference in the world.

And that helped us to successfully apply to Foundation Scotland for Enterprise Ready Funding to help us achieve our vision, our quest, a gorgeous rebrand, a sophisticated online learning platform, courses aligned to the SCQF, our level 3 course accredited, our course materials rewritten for an online learning environment, and our app, such a special thing and designed with the user in mind. At the heart of all of this is the ‘user’, our students, who have helped us to look at ourselves and capture what is good and develop it.

Our creative team - Starbit, Designers on the Run, Ann Robb and Cathy Tingle - have all focused on the ‘user’ designing a brand and website that looks and feels intuitive, uncomplicated and easy to use for persons new to the digital world.

Students from Scotland and beyond, who wish to book our online courses (Playbase 3 is accredited) should take the first step and click here.

Playbase Training.

Freda O’Byrne Chair.

@FredaOByrne uk.linkedin.com/in/fredaobyrne