In 2016, the British Columbia provincial government announced $6 million in funding to launch a compulsory coding curriculum from kindergarten to age 14, with optional classes in high school. The province’s Applied Design, Skills, and Technologies curriculum also includes high school classes in web development and computer programming, digital communications and media design, electronics and robotics and coding for manufacturing.
In the same year, the government of Nova Scotia made a $1 million investment to support coding in schools from kindergarten to age 18.
Provinces like Manitoba and the Northwest Territories have chosen to infuse technology and digital literacy concepts throughout the curriculum. Individual teachers are also using this approach in other jurisdictions, developing creative ways to apply coding, data analysis, social media and online collaboration tools to existing curricula.
But not every province offers formal coding classes, and not every school has access to high-speed internet. Some communities and school boards are getting creative to fill the gaps. Just last year, three municipalities and a school board formed their own non-profit fibre optic internet service, upgrading the community from internet speeds between 10 and 100 megabits/second to up to 1,000.
While inequality persists, consistent digital access (to hardware, software, wifi and data) is a foundational requirement for building and maintaining digital literacy and confidence using technology — increasingly critical skills for work and public life.
As technology advances, the baseline digital skills that people need have not changed that much — we all still need to be able to click a mouse, find information online and send an email — but user interfaces and hardware have changed substantially.
Touch screens and voice activation are becoming more common, and everything has gotten faster and more lightweight. People with lower incomes are constantly at risk of being left behind by the latest product developments, and people with lower levels of digital literacy can struggle to catch up with the new releases.