Our partners at Microsoft have developed a Digital Literacy program that helps to bridge the digital divide. We’re working with them to integrate their curriculum with efforts already in place in the Vermont State Libraries. What comes out of this project should be fruitful and beneficial to all of those trying bridge the gap between the digitally knowledgeable and the digital novices. What follows is a guest post from Richard Langford, Strategic Alliance Manager at Microsoft.

Digital literacy refers to the basic skills necessary to seize the opportunities of broadband Internet, how to use a computer, navigate the web, or take actions like preparing and uploading an online resume, or processing a basic Internet transaction.
If you’re not digitally literate, you’re at a significant disadvantage in the workforce. 50 percent of today’s jobs require some technology skills and this percentage is expected to grow to 77 percent in the next decade.

– Quoted from FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski’s remarks on Broadband Adoption, October 12, 2011

Microsoft is very excited to be partnering with the Vermont Digital Economy Project to bring Vermonters the tools that they need to build a solid foundation for competing in the 21st century economy.

In the broadest sense, digital literacy is about mastering a wide array of information and communications technologies—both hardware and software—including computers, tablets, cell phones, the Internet, intelligent whiteboards, digital pens and polling devices, and other digital devices. For individual learners however, digital literacy is about an ongoing, lifelong effort to acquire and master that subset of digital knowledge and skills that they need to achieve their personal learning, employment, and life objectives.

A person is digitally literate when he or she is able to effectively, responsibly, and safely use a range of information and communications technologies to locate, access, retrieve, organize, integrate, synthesize, evaluate, and analyze data and information; create and construct new knowledge; and express one’s self creatively and communicate with others in ways that contribute both to their own and society’s social and economic development.

The goal of Microsoft Digital Literacy is to teach and assess basic computer concepts and skills so that people can use computer technology in everyday life to develop new social and economic opportunities for themselves, their families, and their communities.

Whether you are entirely new to computing or have some experience, this curriculum will help you develop a fundamental understanding of computers. From using the Internet to sending e-mail or creating a résumé, the Digital Literacy Curriculum helps you develop the essential skills you need to begin computing with confidence.