The State of Digital Literacy: A Literature Review

There is a growing recognition around the world of the importance of digital literacy in preparing students, workers, and citizens for an increasingly digital 21st Century.

This literature review informs the Brookfield Institute for Innovation + Entrepreneurship (BII+E)’s research on the state of digital literacy in Canada, grounding it in existing research.

It focuses on digital literacy as it pertains to the changing nature of work, drawing upon Canadian and international research and best practices in order to define digital literacy, the skills it comprises, and its importance. These sources have pulled insights mainly from educational and pedagogical research and work on technology and the economy.

Read this literature review to learn more about:

  • Existing definitions of digital literacy and the skills it comprises
  • The digital economy and the changing nature of the Canadian workplace
  • How digital literacy can address and exacerbate existing social divides and exclusions
  • Emerging research questions and gaps in existing research

Based on this scan of literature on digital literacy, we can identify several areas where further research is necessary. Research is needed to:

  • Adequately understand the state of digital literacy in Canada.
  • Understand and identify the precise digital skill needs in various sectors of the economy.
  • Map the current landscape of digital literacy policies and programs and understand what forms of digital literacy are best taught within the formal education system and which are best taught outside it.
  • Quantify and examine the digital divide in Canada along key demographic characteristics, particularly in terms of race and socioeconomic status.
  • Explore how digital literacy can be taught to older workers, particularly through cost-effective re-training and rapid upskilling programs in digital skills.
  • Examine the links between computational thinking, other cognitive factors and digital literacy.

BII+E is pursuing research and piloting work that aims to shed further light on a number of these areas.

This literature review is a working paper. If you are aware of any important research or analysis that is missing, please contact Andrew Do or Annalise Huynh.

For media enquiries, please contact Coralie D’Souza, Director of Communications, Events + Community Relations at the Brookfield Institute for Innovation + Entrepreneurship.

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