Digital Literacy + Coding Pilot
Can we help to future-proof youth by rapidly scaling digital literacy + coding training outside of the classroom?
Our research indicates that within the next two decades, 42 percent of Canadian jobs are at risk of being impacted by automation. At the same time, technology is becoming pervasive, creating new opportunities and changing the nature of work across industries.
To support full participation in an increasingly digital economy, the next generation must have access to digital literacy training. And to tap into Canada’s diverse talent pool, these skills must be made available to groups that are currently underrepresented in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields.
At the moment, both formal education systems and after-school programming are responding to the need for digital literacy training. However, they face their own challenges. Formal curricula can be slow to change, and the necessary resources are often out of reach for underfunded schools. After-school programs, which can more easily adapt to the continuously changing digital landscape, are often faced with geographic or financial barriers to entry.
Our Solution: The Digital Literacy + Coding Pilot
The Digital Literacy + Coding Pilot is designed to help bridge the gap between youth in underrepresented groups and the digital skills that are critical to economic participation. It will do this by:
1. Partnering with community organizations, represented in the majority of Ontarian communities;
2. Working alongside the formal education system to help inform future curriculum decisions;
3. Focusing on the needs of those currently underserved by existing digital skills programs; and
4. Placing an emphasis on coding as an entry point to a broader set of digital competencies, like problem-solving and critical thinking skills.
The Digital Literacy + Coding Pilot will be:
- Focused on building digital skills and competencies, which will include coding;
- Continuously, tested, refined, and evaluated throughout its run;
- Overseen by experts in education, program delivery, community needs, and technology industry needs;
- Offered to eight cohorts of 15-30 participants between the ages of 12 and 15, 60 percent of whom will be female, with a focus on youth traditionally underrepresented in STEM fields; and
- Delivered through extracurricular programming, but connected to the formal education system.
There is a clear need to make digital skill-building experiences accessible to all youth across Ontario. The Digital Literacy + Coding Pilot leverages the expertise and experience of project partners to design, implement, and evaluate a scalable model for achieving this goal. At the very core of this model is community infrastructure, such as libraries, community centres, YMCAs, and Boys and Girls Clubs, and by enabling them to deliver digital literacy, we’re building a model that can work in any community across Canada.
The two-year project was designed by a diverse range of experts in digital literacy programming, youth engagement, community development and education policy. The program will be assessed regularly in order to generate key policy insights and recommendations for policymakers in education and digital skills training.
Over the next two years, the pilot will operate at six sites in five cities across Ontario. They are:
- Toronto Public Library – Centennial Branch
- YMCA Toronto – YMCA Academy
- Hamilton Boys & Girls Club
- London Boys & Girls Club
- Belleville Public Library
- YMCA Sudbury
This pilot was co-created by a range of partners we convened as a Steering Committee. Steering Committee organizations include Actua, Boys & Girls Clubs of Canada, the Information and Communications Technology Council, Canada Learning Code, Ontario Ministry of Education, RBC Capital Markets, Ryerson University, Shopify, Toronto Public Library, YMCA, and United Way Greater Toronto. These partners continue to oversee and provide guidance on the pilot.
The Digital Literacy + Coding Pilot brings together community, program delivery, industry, education and academic partners. By working together, we are working to produce a scalable model that will help open the door to digital skills for youth across Ontario.
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