Accelerated digital transformation of our schools, workplaces, and social services during the COVID-19 pandemic has helped raise public awareness around persistent digital divides and the inequities they exacerbate. Less known is that only 10% of the 32 million adults who need to learn to use a computer in the U.S. are able to access digital literacy classes. We have an equity imperative to collaborate, design, and scale new ways to support learner-workers to access the internet and devices and opportunities for digital skills development.
A new report by the Digital US coalition exposes how, at a time when technology innovation requires all of US to develop digital resilience, a lynchpin in developing a more equitable ecosystem for reskilling and ensuring economic recovery will be offering more accessible, just-in-time “digital navigator” services at scale.
Digital Navigators are trained staff or volunteers that help learner-workers (whether through phone or virtual hotlines or at drop-in locations) secure affordable internet access and/or devices and learn to use them to help meet their goals, such as to find and use an online learning program to reskill, to access critical services, or search for or apply for a job.
With funding from Walmart, the EdTech Center @ World Education is working with some of its Digital US Coalition partners to develop new models for offering “digital navigator” services; coordinate pilots to demonstrate impact and replicability; and develop training materials, an online resource hub, and a community of practice to facilitate national scaling.