One year down, one to go! Since launching last winter, over 600 young people have participated in our Digitally Lit program. During this time, we have been able to release two iterations of our curriculum, giving us an opportunity to innovate on our materials and release a final digital version available for all sites to use. We also began working with an outstanding evaluator to help us document key learnings and impacts during the pilot period. Although the evaluator’s report will not be available until the end of the year, we want to continue to reflect regularly on what we’re learning, and what it means for the future of digital literacy in Canada.
What Have We Learned So Far?
From the inception of the Digitally Lit program, our target was to ensure that 60% of our participants identified as female. However, our latest numbers indicate that our female participant average is sitting at roughly 30% across all six sites. We have prioritized working with each site to develop engagement and recruitment plans to encourage greater female participation. Sites have begun seeking out girl-focused spaces to lead the program as well as expanding outreach to locals schools and other community organizations to help spread the word about Digitally Lit.
Our facilitators also play a major role in the success of Digitally Lit. Each facilitator must spend considerable time building trust with the group in an effort to better serve them. However, this effort does not always align with the schedules of our young participants. A major challenge working with youth is that they are often obligated to balance a number of responsibilities, such as working part-time jobs, caring for younger siblings, attending school and participating in extracurricular activities. Regular attendance then becomes a challenge for some participants, and instructors have been employing different strategies to ensure all youth have access to a meaningful experience throughout the program.
Some sites have begun to run review sessions in parallel to regular programming and weekend drop-in sessions for those looking to catch up on what they missed. Other sites have created buddy-systems or have adapted open computer time to include one-on-one time with the Digitally Lit facilitator if participants need extra support.