12 March 2018 | by St. Thomas Student


Focused on Results: New Brunswick Has Eyes Set on Students’ Digital Future

All the news reports, studies and trends clearly point to a more connected future. A future that involves not just the Internet of Things (IoT), but the internet of Everything (IoE), which of course has a direct impact on how and what we teach our future generations. That is why New Brunswick has taken a leadership role and just today announced work being done for our student’s digital future.

To get insight into the significance for New Brunswick, we framed up nine questions to position the importance of digital literacy and what to expect from today’s announcement of the research, creation and implementation of digital literacy standards for the New Brunswick education system.

1.Why are digital literacy standards important for education and workforce development?

Given that we’re living in the digital age, teaching kids how to use technology is about knowing how to use the tools and to look at information critically. We need to be able to teach the students to use technology ethically and with discretion.

In this day and age employees are required to use technology. The need and demand will only increase. Competition for jobs is not about whether you’re digitally literate, it’s going to be how digitally literate you are. As an employee, the better you are at using the tools of the day, the more productive you are. This gives you and your company a competitive edge.

2: What level of education are these standards geared toward?

The standards are focused on the entire K-12 system. Technology gets more complicated as students progress, but it starts in kindergarten and goes right through to grade 12. Our goal is to have the most digitally literate graduates in Canada upon completion of grade 12.

3.Why is it important for CyberNB to partner with New Brunswick Education and Early Childhood Development (EECD) to form these standards?

Cybersecurity is CyberNB’s focus point, but we recognize that cybersecurity is just one element of digital literacy. From a provincial perspective we want to position New Brunswick to be economically competitive and socially progressive in a digital world. We want to be a digital province, the same way Canada wants to be a digital country. We need digitally literate citizens and it starts with young people.

4.What are the phases of the development of these standards?

Phase one is being conducted by a PhD student who is gathering all the available information on best practices and digital literacy. Then we will look at those practices with a critical eye and select which ones we think are most applicable for New Brunswick. In phase two we will take the standards and consult with teachers, industry professionals and others to evaluate, test and validate what has been developed. The final phase is actually implementing the standards in the K-12 system.

5. What is the current state of digital literacy in New Brunswick, and how does it compare to the rest of Canada?

We are really pleased to be able to say that New Brunswick is overall on the leading edge of digital literacy. We have an army of teachers that are digitally literate in their ability to use technology in the classroom. We are really in a good place, but we need to ensure we are working to stay there by keeping pace with students.

6. When will we start to see some of these standards being implemented in schools?

The phase where we’re engaging teachers will start in the spring of this year and we should see the standards get into the system in the fall.

7. Do standards of this type exist anywhere else in Canada?

New Brunswick is on the leading edge. Others are looking at digital literacy, but New Brunswick will be the first to actually have a set of standards that will be officially adopted by the education system

8. Should other provinces follow suit in prioritizing digital literacy?

Yes, every province should have a set of digital literacy standards. All provinces should collaborate so that we all get the benefit of best practices that are being learned in other jurisdictions. Collaboration will help all provinces stay on top of digital literacy.

9.How can readers learn more about digital literacy?

There are a couple of options: There is an organization called International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) in the United States that has developed literacy standards. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has researched digital literacy as well and is a good resource.

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