As more and more services move online, Sno-Isle Libraries works to find innovative ways to help customers gain the skills they need to successfully navigate the complex digital world.
“The digital divide is real and we want to help people build their skills with computers and get them comfortable with the internet since so many services and activities are online or web-based now,” Sno-Isle Libraries Adult Services Coordinator Emily Felt said.
Sno-Isle Libraries now offers Northstar Digital Literacy, a free online learning and assessment tool. It’s designed to help people improve their basic knowledge of how things work with computers and enhance their skills around websites and widely used software programs.
The lessons combine videos, reading and practice scenarios to build skills. Topics cover basic computer skills, internet, email, Windows, Microsoft Word, and career-search skills.
Northstar offers personal assessments of digital skills, online learning lessons, and personal Northstar Learner Accounts that allow customers to track their progress. When Northstar learners complete an assessment, they are automatically directed to the Northstar Online Learning lessons that target specific skill areas.
“Access to this kind of training is really important because it lets people participate in society,” Felt said. “During the pandemic, Sno-Isle Libraries expanded community access to the internet with laptop computers and Wi-Fi hotspots, and we can now use Northstar as another helpful tool.”
After Northstar test takers pass assessments, they should feel comfortable using their new skills to search for information online, search for a job, and use email, Felt said. They can then pursue more advanced training, certifications, or career pathways elsewhere.
“We’re looking forward to offering Northstar to our customers to help increase digital inclusion in Snohomish and Island counties,” Felt said.
Northstar Digital Literacy is being provided regionally by the Washington State Library.