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Levelling Up: The quest for digital literacy

A map of the digital literacy education and training landscape in Canada, including the existing gaps and potential opportunities to improve the development and supply of digital literacy skills
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Levelling Up: The quest for digital literacy
Annalise Huynh
Policy Analyst + Designer
Nisa Malli
Senior Policy Analyst

About this Report

Leveling Up: The Quest for Digital Literacy maps the digital literacy education and training landscape in Canada. It highlights the types of digital skills that people in Canada are pursuing, sheds light on barriers to access, and identifies existing gaps and potential opportunities to improve the development and supply of digital literacy skills.

The growth of digital literacy programs in Canada is exciting. There is a wide array of programs available with promising delivery models and curricula. Some operate entirely within the formal K–12 and post-secondary education systems, while others are led by non-profit and private sector actors working alongside—and sometimes in partnership with—schools, colleges, and universities. However, the landscape of opportunities for learning digital skills is fragmented and difficult for some learners to navigate. Many people in Canada are at risk of falling through the cracks, unsure of what skills they are missing or how to develop them.

Read this report to help you:
  • Understand how public, non-profit, and private organizations make up the formal and informal digital literacy education and training systems in Canada, and how they work together;
  • Explore a framework for understanding types and levels of digital literacy and skills, and the range of digital literacy education and training programs that Canadians are pursuing;
  • Understand barriers to digital access, and other factors contributing to the digital divide across the country;
  • Learn about opportunities to improve access to and delivery of digital literacy education and training in Canada, from targeted support for underserved or disadvantaged people to mid-career training, more training for teachers, and rigorous evaluation of what’s working and what isn’t.

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Key findings from the report:

  • Digital literacy, and the skills and capabilities that it comprises, continues to evolve as technology becomes more all-encompassing, forcing people to remain up-to-date to facilitate civic and social participation, access public services, and succeed in a digitizing economy.
  • While coding is an in-demand digital skill, learning specific coding languages is not enough in today’s evolving digital environment. Curricula should also include the more transferable skills associated with computational thinking and computer science theory needed to understand, use, and create digital tools and products. Advanced training may also involve skills related to data science, cybersecurity, digital production and creative arts, machine learning and artificial intelligence.
  • There is a wide array of digital literacy education and training programs available, some entirely within the formal K-12 and post-secondary education system and others led by nonprofit and private sector actors working alongside, and sometimes in partnership with, schools, colleges and universities.
  • However, the landscape of opportunities for learning digital skills is fragmented and difficult for some learners to navigate, even those that are digitally savvy. In their quest for digital literacy development, learners are moving between educational sectors, programs and fields, building career and learning pathways that may pivot and take sharp turns or—in some cases—missteps.
  • Many people in Canada are at risk of falling through the cracks, with  low levels of digital literacy continuing to overlap with other aspects of socioeconomic marginalization, including low incomes, low literacy and numeracy rates, and remote and un-networked communities.
  • Canada suffers from a digital divide despite public funding commitments for Internet, hardware and training. Consistent digital access (to hardware, software, Wifi and data) and training in digital skills are foundational requirements for building and maintaining digital literacy and confidence using technology.

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Sep 21, 2018

Opinion: Community initiatives are still needed to bridge the digital literacy divide. This op-ed was originally posted on Apolitical.
Canada’s coding classes prepare kids for the future — but many are left behind

Jun 19, 2018

Brookfield Institute for Innovation + Entrepreneurship releases new report identifying the existing gaps and potential opportunities to improve digital literacy in Canada
Levelling up: The quest for digital literacy

Jun 5, 2018

Two years after its launch, the Digital Literacy + Coding Pilot is gaining important insights about the impact of their pilot program and the value of digital skills across Ontario
Digital Literacy

May 31, 2018

We joined the City of Toronto in celebrating the first Digital Literacy Day, which featured programs and opportunities for learners of all ages
The Brookfield Institute celebrates Digital Literacy Day
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