Digital Inclusion

For Library Staff, Digital Navigators, & Digital Inclusion Practitioners 

According to the National Digital Inclusion Alliance (NDIA), digital inclusion “refers to the activities necessary to ensure that all individuals and communities, including the most disadvantaged, have access to and use of Information and Communication Technologies.”   

Digital Inclusion has 5 elements: 

  • affordable, robust broadband internet service 

  • internet-enables devices that meet the needs of the user  

  • access to digital literacy training  

  • quality technical support 

  • applications and online content designed to enable and encourage self-sufficiency, participation and collaboration.  

The following resources touch on one or more of these elements. 

Digital Inclusion Resources

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The NC DIT Division of Broadband and Digital Equity has many resources about broadband in North Carolina, the Digital Divide, and more.  You can view these resources at their website, but those that may be more meaningful to library staff, digital navigators, and digital inclusion practitioners are listed directly here for your convenience. 

Digital Inclusion Template & Guide 

“The Digital Inclusion Plan Template and Guide aims to assist communities by simplifying the process of creating a digital inclusion plan and expediting the implementation of digital inclusion activities.” 

Internet Connectivity Survey 

Libraries are encouraged to complete the Internet Connectivity Survey for NC Community Anchor Institutions to help the NC Broadband Office better understand gaps in service.   

The results from this survey can be found on this map from the Friday Institute -  Uncheck all except CAI2021. 

Technical Assistance Program 

The Broadband Infrastructure Office is offering a Technical Assistance program which includes a Community Broadband Planning Playbook.  This guide can help libraries in their efforts to increase broadband access in their communities.  

Affordable Connectivity Program 

The NC Division of Broadband and Digital Equity also has information about the federal Affordable Connectivity Program, which gives low-income households a discount on their internet service.  

You can also view a recorded session from the Broadband Infrastructure office and the State Library of North Carolina regarding the Affordable Connectivity Program during its initial iteration, Emergency Broadband Benefit. (Log-in may be required.)  If you’ve previously viewed that session and just want information on the update as the Affordable Connectivity Program, you can view the update at the end of the session directly, here.    

Affordable Connectivity Program – Outreach (FCC) 

In addition to the above resources regarding the Affordable Connectivity Program, you can also access the FCC’s Consumer Outreach Toolkit here. More information is also available on their website.  Eligibility and application information can be found here.  

Digital Inclusion in North Carolina (State Library of NC) 

The Digital Inclusion in North Carolina course is an introduction to Digital Inclusion concepts, the needs that exist in North Carolina, and the existing Digital Inclusion resources in the state. The course is available at SLNC Academy and Articulate.   

Digital Navigator Resources (Digital US) 

Digital US has a resource hub for Digital Navigators which includes a training guide (Google doc), and Digital Navigator Playbook, in addition to other digital literacy resources.  

Digital Navigators Toolkit (Urban Libraries Council) 

The Urban Libraries Council Digital Navigators Toolkit (.pdf) documents their grant-funded Digital Navigators Program at the Salt Lake City Public Library and provides helpful guidance other libraries can use in developing their Digital Navigators programs. 

EveryoneOn Find Offers Tool

EveryoneOn features a tool to find low cost internet service and computers via a zip code look-up followed by eligibility questions.  It will also show known digital literacy classes at the bottom, for that zip code.

Intro to Digital Navigators (State Library of NC) 

This introduction to Digital Navigators course can guide your library through the process of creating a Digital Navigator program.   

Lifeline (USAC) 

Universal Service Administration Co. (USAC) provides Lifeline, a federal program that lowers the cost of phone or internet service.  Note - this is separate from ACP.    

Lifeline & Affordable Connectivity Program (Consumer Action)

Confused about Lifeline vs. ACP?  This guide from Consumer Action explains the two in an easy to understand way.

National Digital inclusion Alliance (NDIA) 

The National Digital Inclusion Alliance has many resources for library staff and digital navigators.  These include Digital Inclusion 101, the Digital Inclusion Startup Manual, the Digital Navigator Model, and Digital Navigators Toolkit (.pdf).         

NDIA also maintains an up-to-date listing of free and low-cost internet service plans.   

NDIA also maintains a scorecard of each state’s digital inclusion efforts.  See North Carolina’s scorecard here.   

North Carolina State University’s Institute for Emerging Issues 

NCSU’s Institute for Emerging Issues hosted a Digital Inclusion 101 workshop as well as a workshop on Digital Inclusion Planning.   They are also mapping NC counties’ efforts at creating Digital Inclusion plans.   

Pathways to Digital Equity (Benton Institute) 

The Benton Institute for Broadband and Society recently published Pathways to Digital Equity:  How Communities Can Reach Their Broadband Goals - and How Philanthropy Can Help.  This guide emphasizes a community-driven, inclusive approach do Digital Inclusion efforts and may be useful to library leadership in starting conversations with your community.

Toward Gigabit Libraries Toolkit & Broadband Improvement Plan 

The Toward Gigabit Libraries toolkit can help library staff improve their knowledge of their library’s IT and Broadband set-up, which they can then use to create a Broadband Improvement Plan (.docx). 

Universal Service Administration Co. (USAC) - Lifeline & ACP Companies Lookup 

Use this look-up tool from USAC to find providers for Lifeline & the Affordable Connectivity Program by zip code.

The State Library of North Carolina has purchased a license for Northstar Digital Literacy for public libraries statewide. Northstar includes Digital Literacy learning and assessment tools built on a set of standards for essential digital literacy skills for adults. The three components are: 

  1. Assessments that measure proficiency and identify skill gaps. Learners who take proctored assessments through participating libraries can receive certificates or badges. 

  1. Instructor-led curricula that provide detailed lesson plans and can be used remotely or in person. The curricula is easy to follow, learner centered, and flexible. 

  1. Self-directed online learning for individualized online instruction and practice. Libraries can create learner accounts to track online work and assessments completed by the learners. 

These tools are ideal for any libraries planning digital skills and literacy classes or Digital Navigator services, as well as libraries that wish to proctor Northstar assessments or make self-directed online learning available to patrons without supervision. The assessments and self-directed learning are also suitable for staff professional development.  If you’d like to add your library to SLNC’s Northstar account, complete the interest form here to get started.  

We hosted three webinars about how to get started with Northstar, now available in SLNC Niche Academy. Additionally, to learn more about Northstar’s features, feel free to view their manual here.   

Digital Learn 

Digitallearn.org offers courses on getting started with computers and technology, being safe online, job skills, productivity and health information, connecting with others, mobile devices, and online shopping.  At the Tools & Resources for Trainers part of their website, trainers can download blank templates for the courses.  Some course materials are also offered in Spanish.  

Digital Literacy Initiatives (LINCS) 

The U. S. Department of Education, Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education (OCTAE), Division of Adult Education and Literacy (DAEL) funds digital literacy initiatives to enable adult learners to succeed in a range of academic activities, including STEM and college and career readiness. These initiatives enhance the integration of technology into instruction, increase student access to technology and leverage learning outside the classroom.

Digital Literacy Resources (Digital US) 

Many of the resources on the Digital US Digital Navigator hub are also Digital Literacy resources.  Topics include computer fundamentals, online basics, being safe online, and more.   

Digital Literacy Tool Box: Developing Digital Literacy (Charlotte Mecklenburg Library)

Charlotte Mecklenburg Library's Digital Literacy Tool Box is a compilation of digital literacy toolkits for all age ranges to help information seekers feel comfortable and confident in accessing and utilizing information digitally.

Digital Skills Library (EdTech Center @ WorldEducation)

The Digital Skills Library is an open repository of free learning resources designed to help all adult learners develop the digital skills needed to achieve their personal, civic, educational, and career goals.  Includes resources from GCF Learn Free, Google, and more.

GCF Learn Free 

GCFLearnFree.org is a free online educational website focusing on technology, job training, reading, and math skills; the site is a program of Goodwill International of Eastern NC Inc. and the Goodwill Community Foundation Inc. 

Homework Gap Project / NC Toolkit for Digital Readiness (State Library of NC/ NC BIO) 

The State Library of North Carolina and the Broadband Infrastructure Office of the North Carolina Department of Information Technology partnered with North Carolina libraries to develop and implement a holistic model to equip North Carolina’s public libraries to address the K-12 homework gap in their communities.  The Homework Gap Project resulted in the development of the NC Toolkit for Digital Readiness (opens in a new window).  A guide to implementing the NC Toolkit for Digital Readiness Virtually is available on SLNC Academy and Articulate.   

Digital Literacy Training Program (NDIA) 

Chapter 4 of NDIA’s Digital Inclusion Startup Manual has a helpful checklist for planning a digital literacy training program.     

Microsoft Learn 

Microsoft Learn offers free learning paths and modules that lead to Microsoft Certifications.  Topics include Microsoft Office, Microsoft Teams, cloud computing, security, and much more.   

NCCC System Office Digital Navigator Network Resources 

The North Carolina Community College System Office has a PDF of resources (.pdf) they use with their Digital Navigators ranging from Accessing Devices to Digital Skills Training. Some of those are repeated here in this list. 

Tech Skills Checklist for Public Library Supervisors and Staff (Digitallearn.org/PLA) 

Library staff and supervisors can use this tech skills inventory to assess their technical skills and identify areas for improvement.  Includes links to brush up on skills.  

Techboomers.com

A free educational website that teaches older adults and inexperienced internet users with basic computer skills about websites. Provides a vast array of articles, tutorials on 21st century online platforms, tools and social media.  

Virtual Reality Libguide (Connecticut State Library) 

Here is a useful libguide from Connecticut State Library about Virtual Reality. 

VRtality 

The VRtality program supports positive teen mental health through co-designing a virtual reality experience.  Through the program, teens will build VR digital literacy skills and improve mental health.  Libraries can use VRtality to build a roadmap for the program, identify tech needs to support the program, learn how to co-design sessions with teens, and facilitate sessions.  Here’s an article about the program.   

Web Literacy (Mozilla Foundation)

Free and open source tools and resources, including a ready-made curriculum, for facilitators to lead sessions on how to read, write and participate on the web. Materials range from web literacy basics, coding, protecting your data and more. Recommendations for facilitation and community engagement are also included. 

E-Rate 

For information on the federal E-Rate program, which provides discounts to libraries for services and equipment, see our website here

Human-I-T 

Human-I-T offers low-cost devices and access to income-eligible households.  See their website for more information.    

Kramden Institute 

The Kramden Institute (Durham, NC) has a program for affordable computers for adults, and a program for free computers for K-12 students

PCs for People 

PCs for people provides refurbished, affordable computers to eligible customers.  See their website for more information.   

Senior Planet from AARP 

Senior Planet from AARP’s technology hotlines are run by patient technology trainers who can help answer your tech questions.  They also offer interactive classes on Zoom, telemedicine, online shopping, and more.   

Tech Support Guy 

Tech Support Guy is a free, volunteer-run website where you can post tech support questions.  

Iredell County Public Library

The Iredell County Public Library recently had the opportunity to offer Digital Literacy classes to the population of Iredell County. In order to do this, the library partnered with Iredell-Statesville Schools, with the intention of reaching low income families currently enrolled in areas identified as having reduced accessibility to library services. Two eight-course classes were offered at Third Creek Elementary and NB Mills immediately after the school day’s end, while a third set of the same classes was offered at the Statesville branch library later in the evening to accommodate working households.

Our Digital Literacy curriculum was based off of the Homework Gap Project, and participants were asked to take Northstar Digital Literacy assessments at the start and end of the project to gauge areas where more help was needed, and level of improvement at the end of the course. To incentivize attendance, all households who attended six out of eight class sessions would be rewarded with a new Chromebook, in addition to a set of laptop accessories such as headphones and a computer mouse.

Chromebook accessories
Chromebook

While we had originally planned on releasing the laptop accessories on a class-by-class basis to encourage attendance, it ended up not being necessary. Despite worries that families would require extra incentives to attend, the vast majority came to as many classes as their schedules would allow without prompting, in order to learn as much as possible. Surveys were also conducted at the end of each session to gauge perceived usefulness of the course materials and value of the classes.

At the end of the course, an overwhelming majority of attendees reported feeling that their time had been well spent.

If you have questions about this project, email Jennifer Levins (jennifer.levins@co.iredell.nc.us) or Julianne Moore (julianne.moore@co.iredell.nc.us).  

 

 

If you'd like us to spotlight your library's digital inclusion efforts, please contact Jackie.haske@ncdcr.gov.