Digital literacy is the ability to use information and communication technologies to find, evaluate, create, and communicate information, requiring both cognitive and technical skills. Programs aimed at improving digital skills can help consumers overcome the technical barriers to broadband adoption via education and awareness building. Digital literacy impacts not only a user’s ability to navigate the internet safely and in a meaningful way, but also impacts that user’s ability to utilize technology in the workplace, access government services delivered electronically, participate in telemedicine applications, or access online educational opportunities. A focus on digital literacy helps to further bridge the digital divide by bringing together partners for the teaching and learning of digital skills. The following are resources providing access to digital literacy training platforms available for use in the community as well as more information on technology competencies and examples of community’s addressing the digital literacy challenge.
Connected Nation’s DRIVE: http://driveyourlearning.org
Goodwill Community Foundation Online Technology Education: https://edu.gcfglobal.org/en/subjects/tech/.
National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s digital literacy resources: https://digitalliteracy.gov/
Microsoft Digital Literacy: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/digitalliteracy
Michigan Integrated Technology Competencies for Students: http://www.techplan.org/mitecs/
Harbor Springs, Michigan
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With a population of just under 1,200, digital learning resources are hard for many residents of Harbor Springs, Michigan, to find. Harbor Area Regional Board of Resources, Inc. (HARBOR Inc.) and community partners are changing that with HarborActive, an interactive digital literacy training initiative. HarborActive provides hands-on training across a variety of programs and applications, with classes designed for both businesses and casual users. HARBOR Inc. began working with Connect Michigan in 2011, designing a Community Technology Action Plan to advance broadband adoption and use in the area. HarborActive addresses the need for digital literacy at the root of broadband growth.
HarborActive was founded by Rachel Smolinski, Executive Director of HARBOR, Inc. and Marcie Wolf, partner at Abuzz Creative, a web design, social media marketing and video production company. HarborActive brings many of Harbor Spring’s richest community resources together, including the Harbor Springs Chamber of Commerce, the Harbor Springs library, and Community Connections of Greater Harbor Springs, an organization focused on aging in place and quality of life for seniors. “Forming these partnerships within the community is what HARBOR Inc. focuses on,” Smolinski explained. “HarborActive gives residents, businesses, and community leaders an opportunity to come together and share their knowledge in a casual and interactive environment. “We’ve had a lot of fun with it already and there are a lot of opportunities still available.”
Roscommon County, Michigan
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Marketing businesses and economic development agencies are teaming up in Roscommon County, Michigan, to help small businesses strengthen their online marketing skills. The Boost Your Business seminars provide free, hands-on instruction using Facebook and website marketing, giving small and home-based businesses and non-profits the opportunity to hone social media skills and use the latest online marketing tools to get real results.
“With a number of Roscommon County residents who make crafts, sell goods, or offer services from their home, many are still unaware of how to take advantage of the internet to market their product or services,” said Adele Woskobojnik, owner of Marketing Sense Consulting and one of the key collaborators behind the class. “The seminars help these entrepreneurs decide if social media is enough for them to reach their goals, or if should they have more of a web presence.”