Digital literacy skills have become increasingly essential for workers at all levels. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 77% of jobs will require some degree of technology skills within the next decade.
The Minnesota Literacy Council’s Northstar Digital Literacy Assessment originated through a community collaborative seeking a way to assess basic digital literacy proficiency in adults in order to assist with targeted instruction. At the time, no such tool existed.
Last month, Northstar passed the milestone of 3 million assessments taken. Anyone can take Northstar assessments for free at digitalliteracyassessment.org, and those who wish to earn a certificate to demonstrate their skills to potential employers can take the assessments at one of more than 600 approved testing locations, which include workforce centers, Adult Basic Education programs, libraries, nonprofits, government agencies and businesses in 50 states and 7 countries.
The benefits to learners often go far beyond job credentials.
“I have seen learners cry with joy upon receiving certificates proving they have mastered digital literacy skills that once seemed out of reach,” says Eric Nesheim, executive director of the Minnesota Literacy Council. For those experiencing low confidence as they navigate job transitions, learning new skills and having a certificate to prove it provides an extra push to move ahead with the career search. “Many of our learners have not experienced positive academic success in the past and proving to themselves and others that they are able to conquer digital literacy skills is a huge boost to their self-esteem,” says Theresa Sladek, Northstar specialist.
In November, the Minnesota Literacy Council rolled out a new and improved version of Northstar. Northstar 2.0 features a revamped website, streamlined administrator experience, improved security and updated standards for all testing modules. Additional improvements are underway. Two new modules are in development: Career Search Skills and Managing Your Digital Footprint, and the Northstar team is creating comprehensive curriculum resources for both individual and classroom use.