This past April, the Brookfield Institute for Innovation + Entrepreneurship (BII+E) unveiled a new digital literacy and coding pilot program designed to prepare youth for the digital economy. This new pilot program builds upon existing community infrastructure, such as libraries and community organizations, to develop a model that has the potential to scale across Canada.
As our Digital Literacy + Coding Pilot grows, we’re learning as we go. One of the most important components of this process has been listening and gaining insight from youth and community partners as the pilot progresses – and the ability to pivot when necessary. We’re excited to share these insights with you.
What is the Digital Literacy + Coding Pilot?
The Digital Literacy + Coding Pilot is a project of the Brookfield Institute in partnership with the YMCA, Boys and Girls Club of Canada and public libraries in five cities across Ontario! We wanted to create a project where youth who are not traditionally represented in STEM fields could learn about HTML code and digital literacy. We decided to focus on digital literacy because we ultimately wanted young people to be able to use technological tools to solve problems, share their stories and critically understand how to engage with digital content.
Working with our partners, we are using after-school spaces to deliver a program that blends play, hands-on and interactive activities to teach youth between the ages of 12-15 about how to create with code.
Bringing the pilot into after-school spaces meant we were able to bring together a diverse group of youth from different schools in the community, allowing them to build and grow their personal networks
Since January 2018, we have launched the program in Toronto, London, Belleville, Hamilton and Sudbury! Each site is adapting the program to meet the needs of its youth to ensure they find learning digital literacy and code to be fun and exciting!
Youth will learn how to develop their own web pages, build online games and apps from scratch as well as discover some really awesome online tools for their digital projects. Activities are designed to allow youth to connect their passions to code and then create something they can share with their communities.
Our goal is to reach over 1000+ young people over the next two years. This means 1000+ more young people in Canada who are empowered to create, design and participate online using code.
What have we seen so far?
As we have launched in different cities, participants are bringing their own personalities to their learning spaces!
A FEW HIGHLIGHTS:
- Currently, we are engaging 20-25 youth on average for each session at current sites, and seeing increases each week.
- All sites have entered the “hands-on” point of the pilot, where they have begun to implement what they have learned about HTML and design their digital projects.
- Youth have begun to build webpages which highlight relevant issues and their passions.
- As we continue moving forward, we have the ability to adapt our core curriculum and create additional resources to help ensure youth are able to continually engage in the pilot.
- Bringing the pilot into after-school spaces meant we were able to bring together a diverse group of youth from different schools in the community, allowing them to build and grow their personal networks.
We are so excited that the Digital Literacy + Coding pilot is not only bringing together amazing young people and exposing them to integral digital literacy and code education, but we are also feeding key insights and first-hand community experiences into our broader research on digital literacy and beyond.