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:
- Essential Computer Skills – Computer Basics, Internet Basics, Email, Windows OS, Mac OS X
- Essential Software Skills – Word, Excel, PowerPoint
- Using Technology to Accomplish Tasks – Social Media, Information Literacy
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.
The Digital Divide in America
When it comes to accessing technology and the internet, many individuals locally, nationally, and internationally are being left behind. In fact, according to the Pew Research Center, 10 percent of adults in the United States of America do not use the internet. That’s more than 25 million people in the United States alone.
As defined by Merriam-Webster, the term “Digital Divide” refers to “the economic, educational, and social inequalities between those who have computers and online access and those who do not.” Inequality is an accurate word to describe the limitations of the Digital Divide. While some may think of technology as a luxury, tech is becoming increasingly important in completing basic functions in the 21st century. In their documentary “Without A Net: The Digital Divide in America,” Verizon explores this challenging issue, highlighting the impact that limited or no access to technology has on the lives of American students. To learn more, watch the full video below.
Without A Net: The Digital Divide in America
Teacher and Library Materials
- Kyle Spangler
- Dave Sevick
- David Mitchell
- James Bryant
- Wayne Gaines
- Gerry Walsh
- Gina McGrath
- Jennifer Whitley
- Phil Cox
- Patricia Marsh
- Johnathan Wright