BBC WebWise Campaign helps local online communities

Announcement September 24 1999

BBC Webwise is giving a further chance for anyone to gain the confidence to use the Internet this autumn. A new feature will be information on the website to help communities get online.

This includes:

The first live chat will feature virtual communities guru Howard Rheingold on October 4. The Web Guide Community Hub will be online later in the month, and further WebWise material will follow from November.

BBC WebWise provides thousands of pages of help on both basic and advanced use of the Internet, with features, case studies and expert answers to queries. Web Guide offers comprehensive reviews of Web sites across a wide range of topics.

The WebWise Communities Campaign will draw on the pioneering work of UK Communities Online and Partnerships Online One feature of the campaign will be an enhanced version of the Neighbourhoods Online game for public use. The game helps people play through ways they can use new media technologies to tackle local issues.

Ideas in the game include creating an online community newsletter, email for key local activists, online community conferencing, arts and history projects, and a community technology centre.

A campaign toolkit will provide online community builders with the means to carry through these ideas, and there will be opportunities to share experience with others in the Communities Online network. Later plans include development of learning materials and courses about local online communities.

An outline of the campaign was first announced at the BBC Online Communities Day conference in June 1999. The Department of Trade and Industry funded David Wilcox of Partnerships Online to facilitate online discussion following the conference, and he will be working with BBC staff on the Web Guide and on campaign support materials.

The game and some of the other materials will be developed with non-BBC funding so that they are available more widely for use with other partners.

Another Communities Day conference is planned for Spring 2000, and over the coming months BBC Online staff will be meeting those involved in local projects to share ideas in development of the campaign.

Contact David Wilcox