Literacy Minnesota recent release a statewide report on digital equity needs (by county). The report looks at three questions:
- What counties have high digital access, economic, education and English language learning needs?
- How have organizations adapted to the pandemic and addressed digital access needs in their communities, who do they serve, and which counties are served?
- How would a statewide Digital Navigator Program complement available resources and sustainably solve persistent problems?
County Ranking on Highest Needs
The report ranks county based on high priority needs (defined by unemployment, ow wages, low English attainment, access to broadband a computer and more). They present the information in a way that is difficult to share electronically, but I’ve copied the ranking. Here are the counties in greatest need of help. (I’ll paste the full list at the and of this post.) They have color coded the layers of ranking; I’ve tried to replicate that with bold/not bold. Each change represents a new tier of ranking.
- Lake of the Woods
- Mille Lacs
Organizational changed due to COVID
Literacy Minnesota surveyed organizations…
The majority of organizations that responded to Literacy Minnesota’s Digital Equity Community Needs Assessment survey shifted to remote programming and services in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Nearly 80% of responses to Literacy Minnesota’s Digital Equity Community Needs Assessment Survey reported that their organization had shifted to distanced or virtual platforms, while about 20% of organizations shut down services. About 40% of organizations made new partnerships and 50% of organizations added services. Among services added, more than 60% distributed devices, 56% helped people access the internet and 47% offered digital literacy services. The Survey was sent to about 700 ABE organizations, broadband providers, CareerForce centers, community organizations, government officials, libraries, nonprofits and schools on November 1, 2020. By November 22, 294 organizations had responded to the Survey — a response rate greater than 42%.
Digital Navigator Recommendations
Literacy Minnesota recommends a learner-centered approach to digital navigation and digital literacy learning, like the learner-centered approach that it applies in ABE, its AmeriCorps VISTA national service program and its trainings and webinars. The agency recommends that organizations holding public trust host digital navigators. Community-based organizations and libraries represent excellent potential host sites for a statewide Digital Navigation Program in Minnesota. The agency also recommends that the Digital Navigator Program utilize the Northstar Digital Literacy program of Literacy Minnesota, which represents the leading technology in digital literacy learning and is available at multiple locations in each of Minnesota’s 87 counties through ABE, libraries, and workforce centers. Literacy Minnesota’s nearly 50 years of ABE experience as well as its emerging digital equity efforts and expertise, like the Ramsey County TechPak Program, a CARES Act project with Hennepin County, and its Open Door Learning Center equity efforts, inform these recommendations.
For folks who are interested in talking more about Digital Navigators, the Blandin Foundation is hosting a “lunch bunch” conversation on Feb 24 from noon to 1pm (CST).
Below is the full ranking of county by need. Continue reading