What is Northstar?
In schools, workplaces, and communities around the globe, technology is becoming increasingly integrated into daily tasks. Because of this, digital skills are no longer being thought of as an extra perk on a resume. Instead, they’re often seen as a requirement. Recognizing this need, the Saint Paul Public Library and the Saint Paul Community Literacy Consortium in Minnesota began a community-based process in 2010 to define the skills needed to thrive in today’s technological world. From this, the Northstar Digital Literacy Assessments were established.
As a nationally-recognized platform, Northstar empowers community members to take digital learning into their own hands, providing users with self-guided online modules that assess participants’ skill levels on digital tasks. The platform focuses on three basic computer literacy standards and modules, including:
- Northstar’s assessments and modules are publicly available. Anyone can take an assessment for free by clicking the button below or by visiting the Northstar website. For individuals interested in receiving certifications recognizing their digital skills sets, proctor-supervised assessments are available at over 500 testing locations in the United States, Canada, Nigeria, South Africa, New Zealand, and Australia. Users who score 85 percent or higher will earn a certificate. Thus far, Northstar assessments have been taken over three million times! To learn more, watch this video.
Northstar Introductory Videos
Certified Active Teachers
Jenny Lynn Whitley
The Digital Divide in America
Without A Net: The Digital Divide in America
Homework Gap – Student Challenge (laptops vs. encyclopedias)
Additional External Digital Literacy Resources (Northstar)
Digital Access for Older Adults (Age Friendly Pittsburgh, 2021)
Indicators of Broadband Need (Maps by the NTIA on ESRI revealing unserved and underserved communities, updated 2020)
Rural Pennsylvania (Maps by The Center for Rural Pennsylvania defining rural communities, updated 2020)
Computer Need (Maps by Digitunity on Tableau, updated 2020)
Southwestern Pennsylvania Connected (Maps by the SPC studies, updated 2021)
Greater Pittsburgh Digital Inclusion Alliance (a community-wide, multi-sector committee of organizations following the lead of the National Digital Inclusion Alliance (NDIA) to cooperatively address equitable access to and use of communication technologies, updated 2022)