Essential Digital Skills

Once your learner has mastered the Foundation Digital Skills and feels confident using their device, you can introduce new activities.

This is where you can introduce online tasks that meet their interests and needs.

You can link these activities to the Essential Digital Skills checklist.

Communicating with family and friends

It’s important to understand what platforms your learner’s family and friends are using, so you can tailor your support.

It also means that the person you are helping can get more help from those they’re close to, if that’s something they feel comfortable doing.

Video calling

Video calling is useful for helping people feel less isolated.

There are some messaging apps (for example WhatsApp and Messenger) that you can use to make video calls too. This helps makes the move to video calling easier for your learner.

Here are some useful guides:

Shopping online for essentials

Find out where your learner usually does their shopping and show them the website or app for that supermarket.

You may not be able to support them to do an online shop right away, but you can help them feel more confident and comfortable with the process.

It is also worth checking if they qualify for priority delivery from supermarkets.

Learn My Way has a tutorial on online shopping, and Digital Unite has a set of guides to online shopping.  

Managing health and wellbeing

There are a range of online resources to help people manage their health and wellbeing.

  • NHS Inform – Scotland’s national health information service
  • NHS Inform videos on YouTube – videos on a range of health conditions
  • NHS Near Me – a video call service which means you can have medical appointments at home, or at a local NHS clinic
  • Clear Your Head – a Scottish Government website with practical tips on how to cope with pressure, stress and anxiety during coronavirus
  • – a Scottish Government website that includes information on health, social care and wellbeing

Finding safe and reliable sources of information

During coronavirus, it’s important that we help learners find reliable and accurate sources of information through NHS Scotland and the Scottish Government.

Here are the main sources of relevant and official information:

The UK Government’s SHARE checklist can help your learner make sure the information they’re reading about the coronavirus is correct.

They can also check Full Fact, the UK’s independent fact checking charity. It’s working to fact check and correct false information about the coronavirus.

Accessing public services

Your learner may want to use online public services. This includes things like paying their council tax, applying for benefits or applying for a primary school place.

Learn My Way has courses on using public services online and a how to guide for Universal Credit.

The website has information on benefits, funds and grants including Child Benefit and tax credits.

Online safety

Staying safe online is an essential digital skill that should be included in everything you do with your learner.

One Digital has created a guide about what to teach learners about online safety.

Here are other resources that can help:

  • Get Safe Online – guides to protecting your computer and protecting yourself when you’re online
  • Learn My Way – course on being safe online and keeping your device and personal information safe
  • Digital Unite – hints and tips on online safety
  • – a guide to staying safe online
  • Kidscape – simple tips for staying safe on social media. These tips are aimed at children and young people, but are helpful for starting a conversation with an adult who’s new to social media
  • BBC bitesize – explains what trolling is and what to do if it happens to you
  • BBC News – video on what fake news is and how to spot it
  • Citizens Advice Scotland – as well as protecting yourself online, you can use the Online Scam Helper to check if something’s a scam, and find out what to do if you’ve been scammed
  • GF Global – information on avoiding spam and phishing (posing as a well-known, trustworthy company to trick people into sharing personal information)

Creating strong passwords

One of the first tasks you might need to do is help your learner set up an email account so that they can access the App Store to download apps.

This will mean helping them to create a strong password. It also means helping them understand that, in the online world, passwords are like keys – so if someone else has them they can get hold of your personal information.


Here are some online entertainment options that do not need a paid for subscription:

You should remind your learner that they have 20GB of data, so spending a lot of time on streaming services may use up their allowance.

It might be helpful to have a chat about streaming on standard definition instead of high definition, so their data won’t run out as quickly.

Supporting families with children and young people at home

For many parents and carers, having children at home and supporting them with their school work can be a challenge.

The lockdown restrictions have had a huge impact on children and young people. And it’s led to a reliance on the internet to support their education and social lives.

Here are some resources may help your learner:

Improving digital skills

Here are some websites that help learners develop their digital skills:

  • Let’s Get Online – a Scottish Government website where learners can find out the basics about using the internet and look for digital skills courses in their local area
  • Learn My Way – free courses on how to use the internet. They cover things like using a mouse, watching and listening online and finding a job online
  • Digital Unite – ‘how-to’ guides on topics like computer basics, social networking and blogs and government services, shopping and banking
  • BT Skills for Tomorrow – free courses covering both skills for home life and skills for work life
  • SQA Academy – an online safety course
  • Microsoft Digital Literacy Curriculum – covers using a computer, what the internet is, communicating online and online safety
  • Barclays Digital Wings – tools and tutorials to help learners build their digital knowledge. Includes: a beginners guide to the internet, staying safe online, and social media

Communicating with support services

During coronavirus, it’s particularly important that learners are able to contact support services, such as:

  • community organisations
  • social services
  • doctors
  • pharmacy
  • foodbanks
  • landlords
  • housing associations
  • community volunteers

Many voluntary sector organisations may be using Zoom to provide key services, such as mental health support or welfare rights advice.

So you may have to support your learner to get in touch with the services they need online.

A Local Information System for Scotland (ALISS) provides information about different support services across Scotland.