During the coronavirus pandemic, many tools and services that previously received little attention have become a permanent part of everyday life for Finns. Tools that aid working from home and allow safe distances to be maintained outside have become increasingly valued and have made everyday chores easier. One digital service that has become more common during the past year is the use of QR codes in various services. Moniheli ry’s DigiUp project manager Artem Kuosti and project coordinator Yuri Kitaba believe that getting to grips with QR codes would be a useful skill for people beginning to develop their digital abilities.
– QR codes would probably be more readily available if more people knew how to use them. When used appropriately, they make transactions quicker and easier. Instead of the customer or user having to google and find answers themselves, the code takes you directly to the right place. It also reduces the digital skill level required from the user, says Kuosti.
QR codes have been in use since the early days of smartphones, but they have broken through into common use relatively slow. Especially in the last year, however, codes have begun to pop up in new places.
– For example, in many restaurants, you can open the menu and order using a QR code. The use of QR codes in museums has increased and is a great way to find out more about the artwork. In the post-COVID world, solutions like this will certainly become more prevalent. QR codes are rarely used in government services, but that too may change soon, says Kitaba.
One code can replace stacks of papers and pamphlets
The benefit of QR codes comes from their versatility. The information behind the code can be updated whenever necessary, and location-specific codes can be used to provide the user with additional information about a particular location. Rapidly expiring information and inconveniently portable papers and pamphlets can be replaced with a single code.
– We will soon be getting business cards with a QR code. We have had to think about whether everyone knows what to do when they get one and whether everyone even has the equipment to make them work, but we also think this is a good opportunity to learn how to use QR codes. Of course, we have also prepared for situations where the codes are not enough, says Kuosti.
Using codes on your phone is easy but works slightly differently on different devices. Below you will find a QR code to help you practice using it. The link behind the code takes you to the homepage of the DigiUp project.
– Using an iPhone, for example, is very simple. You open the camera application on your phone, after which you direct the camera towards the QR code. When you see the code on your screen, a link appears on the phone, which opens the code. There are differences between models, and sometimes you need to download a separate QR code reader to your phone. The basic principle is the same on the app: open the app and point your camera at the code, guides Kuosti.
DigiUp aims to develop the digital skills of multicultural associations
Moniheli ry. is a network of more than 100 multicultural, immigrant and other associations supporting integration in Finland. They have recently focused on strengthening the digital skills of associations, and the purpose of the three-year (2021-2023) DigiUp project is to develop multilingual and plain language digital support.
– We have three key objectives, all of which aim to strengthen the digital skills of foreign-language speaking and immigrant associations. Our primary task this year is mapping digital skills of associations the organizations in six different languages. We will analyze the digital skill levels of associations both quantitatively and qualitatively. Then we continue developing digital support based on the results of the survey, Kuosti explains.
This year, the project has also launched a digital support service for associations, including training and the production of training materials. The goal is to make a wide range of support available in the future as well.
– Next year, we will make use of our accumulated expertise in culturally sensitive and plain language digital support by piloting our volunteering model. We also provide training for associations, for example, on the use of Zoom, information security and the importance of GDPR. These are areas in which we can immediately benefit associations, claims Kuosti.
Language skills play a significant role in the work, but understanding different cultures is equally important. In all its work, DigiUp strives to take into account the various ways in which social services are organized in differing cultures.
– We produce all our material in plain language Finnish and English, in addition to which we try to translate them into other languages with the help of associations. It is not just a question of language skills, but people also come from cultures with completely different service designs and may have difficulty functioning in the Finnish service system. It is important to have clear and understandable guidelines, confirms Kitaba.
Advocacy work also plays a key role in the project’s operations. DigiUp will try to take the discussion on the digital skills and needs of immigrants and foreign-language speakers to a new level.
– It is crucial that the challenges facing immigrants and foreign-language speakers are identified and that we are able to strengthen the dialogue regarding the needs between associations, authorities and service providers on needs. We want to start a dialogue on how to produce services that really reach and are accessible to everyone. We want to act as a bridge in this discussion, concludes Kuosti.