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Levelling Up: The quest for digital literacy

 A map of the digital literacy education and training landscape in Canada to improve the development and supply of digital literacy skills.

Digital literacy is a fundamental component of 21st-Century literacy and vital for civic and social participation, accessing public services, and succeeding in a digitizing economy. Levelling 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.

Digital literacy is a fundamental component of 21st-Century literacy and vital for civic and social participation, accessing public services, and succeeding in a digitizing economy. There has been an exciting growth of programs across Canada supporting the development of digital literacy at all ages, both within the formal educational system and delivered by non- and for-profit actors working alongside and in partnership with schools, colleges, and universities. However, the landscape of opportunities for learning digital skills remains fragmented and difficult for some learners to navigate. Many people in Canada are at risk of falling through the cracks, uncertain of the skills they are missing, how to develop them, and how to make sure they are not left behind.

This report maps the digital literacy education and training landscape in Canada, from early childhood education to programs for seniors, and from “Introduction to Windows” to machine learning, video game design, and other advanced digital skills and professions. It examines how learners are building pathways through programs and the challenges they face in developing digital literacy, the roles of organizations and educational institutions within the digital literacy sector, trends in curriculum and pedagogical approaches, and it highlights exciting program models across the country. With this report, the Brookfield Institute for Innovation + Entrepreneurship hopes to provide a resource for the digital literacy sector, share successful models, and identify gaps and opportunities for program and policy improvements.

This report draws on over 90 semi-structured interviews with digital literacy education and training providers across Canada; school boards and teachers known for their successful implementation of digital literacy curriculum; policymakers at all levels of government across the country; and academics studying digital literacy, computational thinking, the digital economy, and technology in the classroom. Interviewees and case studies were selected to reflect a diversity of geographies, learner demographics, pedagogies, program models, sectors, and skills taught.

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