The day before Net Inclusion 2017 comes to St. Paul, Minnesota, colleagues from adult education, libraries and workforce development are gathering for an event that will focus on how collaborative digital literacy efforts can increase communities’ capacity to improve adult literacy and workforce outcomes for Minnesotans.

Better Together has two parts: 1) a learning strand highlighting resources that promote digital literacy and workforce skills, and 2) a Northstar strand giving participants the opportunity to provide input for the next level of the Northstar Digital Literacy Project. The event builds on the success of three similar events held last year, and the planning team was excited to hold this year’s session to complement Net Inclusion.

The St. Paul Public Library and the St. Paul Community Consortium used a community-based process to develop Northstar’s standards, assessments, and curricula in ten areas: basic computer use, Internet, Windows Operating System, Mac OS, email, Microsoft Word, social media, Microsoft Excel, Microsoft PowerPoint, and information literacy. Students can earn certificates and badges by taking proctored Northstar assessments at sponsor sites. Students must score at least 85% to receive a certificate.

Northstar is free for individuals to use, including taking assessments and earning certificates through a sponsor site. Libraries, workforce centers, adult education programs, and other organizations have the option to become a sponsor site. In addition to having the ability to award badges and certifcates, those sites receive detailed reports on testing results.

The discussion about the future of Northstar will focus on incorporating the standards into career pathways, identifying skills needed to succeed in postsecondary studies, recognizing skills necessary to navigate employment, and defining the gap between the standards and entering IT career pathways.

The agenda and handouts are available here. The planning team includes representatives from the Minnesota Department of Education, the Minnesota Literacy Council, St. Paul Public Library, the Saint Paul Community Literacy Consortium, and the Northstar Digital Literacy Project.