Digital Literacy Initiative Aims to Help Americans Build Online Skills

Fri, May 13, 2011 by Aneesh Chopra and Lawrence Strickling

Today, Commerce Secretary Gary Locke launched DigitalLiteracy.gov, a new online portal to help Americans find jobs and obtain the 21st century skills being sought by today’s employers.

The Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) developed DigitalLiteracy.gov in partnership with nine Federal agencies, with the goal of creating an online hub for librarians, educators, and other digital literacy practitioners to share content and best practices. Through DigitalLiteracy.gov, NTIA is making available to all Americans the methods for improving broadband adoption that are being developed by Recovery Act projects.

Resources and tools on the site can be used to teach and help develop digital literacy skills including lesson plans, online training tools, and train-the-trainer materials. In addition, any user can go to the site’s workforce page to connect to a wide variety of career-building applications that teach a range of skills including word processing fundamentals, resume -building tips, and job search techniques.

The premise is simple: We live in an Internet economy where high-speed Internet access and online skills are necessary for seeking, applying for, and getting today’s jobs. DigitalLiteracy.gov will help Americans build the online skills needed to fully share in the benefits of broadband, including developing workforce skills, finding reliable healthcare information, or designing a website.

Most important, as the resources on this Web portal expand we expect additional content from broadband grantees who are developing and implementing digital literacy training programs in their communities. This will allow us to leverage the investments from local Recovery Act projects to provide digital literacy resources to all Americans and help achieve the Administration’s goal of winning the future and ensuring that America remains the leader in an increasingly competitive world.

Additionally, users can rate the content, provide feedback, and communicate with each other about how they are using the tools. This is a case of technology helping to facilitate new and effective ways for practitioners to share experiences and expand their collective knowledge base. Over time, the site will help to improve our understanding of what practices work for different communities and increase the impact, sustainability, and scale of digital literacy efforts.

We welcome your feedback and encourage you to share resources being put into practice in your community. Collaboration is key, and together we can leverage these resources to better prepare Americans for success in today’s digital economy.

Aneesh Chopra is U.S. Chief Technology Officer

Lawrence Strickling is Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information at the Department of Commerce

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An instructor stands behind a student sitting at a computer workstation. WorkForce West Virginia

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