Net Literacy Announces the Upcoming Beta Launch of its AI Literacy Program

During the last 25 years, the internet has significantly impacted our everyday lives and during the next 10 years, artificial intelligence (AI) will even more profoundly change our lives. The AI Literacy program was created to help increase awareness and the critical thinking skills of middle school students, high school students, and other young adults about the promise of and how artificial intelligence will impact their daily lives so that they can make discerning researching, purchasing and other decisions when online and offline.  

In mid to late February, a beta version of AI Literacy will launch and start out with two resource areas for students, their families and their teachers:

  • AI Good Practice examples which will be a curated collection of some of the best examples of how artificial intelligence is enriching our world for good.
  • AI Learning which will be a place where students middle school students, high school students and young adults learn more about artificial intelligence through curated resources that are mostly rich media or enable students to learn about AI by doing.

We will continue to populate the Good Practice examples and AI Learning resource areas with additional content, and then begin to add new resource areas.

The official launch of AI Literacy is scheduled for May 19, 2019.

For more information, email danielkent(at)

Net Literacy Ends 2018 By Donating it’s 43,000th Computer to Homeless Families!

What better way for Net Literacy student volunteers to ring out 2018 than by donating the 43,000th computer to a nonprofit that provides food and other assistance to homeless families in Indianapolis!

Since 2003 and beginning at Carmel Middle School and then extending to school districts throughout Indiana, middle and high school student volunteers have worked during weekends and after school repurposing computers to donate to schools, public libraries, senior centers, community centers, independent living facilities, churches and other nonprofits throughout 91 counties in Indiana where over 2,000 computer labs were constructed. The picture below shows students from Carmel High School delivering repurposed computers that are ready to be donated.


Carmel High School Students Teach Senior Citizens Digital Literacy Skills

Beginning at Carmel Middle School in 2003 and still going strong at Carmel High School over 15 years later, friendly student volunteers continue to “adopt” senior citizens to answer their questions and in 2019, help them better be able to use their laptops, tablets and smartphones.

When the Senior Connects program first started, Net Literacy’s student volunteers held computer drives and built hundreds of computer labs inside independent living facilities, senior apartments, and senior centers because few seniors owned their own computer. Fifteen years later, most seniors own at least one device and so now, students spend their time answering questions and teaching them how to use their devices.   While technology can feel unfriendly at times, the Senior Connects model pairs a friendly student volunteer with a senior for one-on-one instruction so things can be explained in a way that helps reduce any fears the seniors may have of the technology.

Senior Connects offers computer and digital literacy resources at no cost in English, Spanish and Russian, and are available by clicking on this link –

For more information, contact Dan at danielkent(at)

Check out some pictures that show student volunteers helping seniors during a recent Sunday afternoon:





Harshman Middle School Students Learn Computer Repurposing Skills

Working with Net Literacy for a fifth year, Dr. Caren Lettofsky has engaged her students with a two week project based learning exercise that teaches students how to work in teams while learning how to repurpose a computer by assembling it’s parts. As has been the case during past years, Dr. Lettofsky said that her students started this project by telling her that “I can’t” but as they made progress and gained confidence, their I can’ts turned into “I did it!” After the computers are repurposed by the students, they are donated to Harshman families without a computer at home.

Dr. Lettofsky was recognized by the Indianapolis Public Schools in 2017 for her success in this program by being named as a semi-finalist in the Hubbard Life-Changing Educator Awards.

Said Daniel Kent from Net Literacy, “We are proud to support IPS, Dr. Lettofsky, and hundreds of Harshman Middle School students that have learned computer skills in her class or have benefited by receiving a computer!”

These pictures tell the story…






Indianapolis Public School Board Honors Net Literacy During School Board Meeting

January 26, 2017

The IPS School Board honored Net Literacy with a certificate of special recognition for donating 17,000 computers to IPS schools and IPS K-12 families. Also, Net Literacy was recognized for engaging thousands of IPS students as volunteers after school and employing hundreds of IPS students during its annual summer internship programs. For more information, contact danielkent(at)

Best Told in Pictures: Net Literacy Student Volunteers Help Senior Citizens Learn to Use Social Media and Their Devices

March 10, 2017

A team of student volunteers visiting an independent living facility to help answer senior’s questions about using their devices and social media as part of the Senior Connects program. It’s best told in pictures. For additional information, email danielkent(at)

CoderDojo is an Irish NGO that takes care of setting up the clubs and organizing free meeting to teach young people how to program


CoderDojo Italy, following the international guidelines of CoderDojo, aims mainly to bring the boys to develop their digital skills.The program, in fact, it helps you to use independently and consciously technology. The children, with the help of the softwareopen source , realize their programs, video games, presentations, animations, and share them online with the entire community.

Results achieved
Learning to program not only offers access to professions increasingly required, but is a way of approaching actively technology, it helps to develop logical and computational thinking and provides new tools for personal expression. It also helps to hone some skills (think creatively, reason schematically, collaborate with others), fundamental for students, no matter what will be their field of study or their occupation.


Generally involve two phases lasting about an hour each, with the moment of exchange and sociability of the snack break.

In the first part, one of the mentors at all illustrates the creation of a project through a tutorial, that kids are free to follow or not, possibly adapting it to their preferences and their capabilities. For example, if the tutorial is to create a video game where a shark has to eat fish, kids can choose alternate characters, such as a monkey that has to reach the bananas, thus maintaining the dynamics of the game.

After the break, everyone is invited to create their own project, experimenting in a context in which any new information assumes a spendable immediate, as in the case of the variables introduced to store the score in a video game.

With increasing experience of the participants, the guided always leaves more space for the realization of individual and group projects, exploring new languages more and more complex as HTML and Python, or approaching through electronic platforms such as Arduino and Raspberry Pi.

Methods of implementation

CoderDojo uses mainly Scratch, a visual programming environment, free and open-source , very simple and intuitive, designed to allow a first approach to programming by anyone.

In Scratch, the instructions are represented by graphic elements that can be composed to create animated stories, video games, art and simulations. Projects can be shared with the Scratch online community through a social platform where you can exchange comments, create galleries, access and modify other projects, making it the remix .

Scratch is now used by hundreds of thousands of people worldwide, mainly between 7 and 18 years, and is the most appropriate tool and spread to take their first steps in programming.

The adults involved in the workshops are facilitators of the learning process. This is accomplished through a very informal interpersonal relationship, the absence of feedback, continuous encouragement to improve, the stimulus to collaboration and sharing. At each meeting involving several mentors, basically one of every four children, who in this way can also be followed closely and addressed individually to learn, respecting their own pace.


CoderDojo caters for the time and above all, to children and teenagers from 7 to 14 years.

They were made of the pilot experiences with children aged 5 and 6 years and also directed a workshop for teachers in which the tools, methods and paths were the same used in classic laboratories.


Since this is an open and free are not available reliable data on the number of beneficiaries reached and results in measurable terms.

Since February 2013 to today, they were born in the country more than 30 clubs, both in cities and in small towns. Some datarelated to only 50% of Italians dojo, indicate that the meetings were over 100 and have recorded more than 3000 participants. Upon submission of this platform, they are springing up elsewhere.

Digital literacy – Best practices from the contest organised by Digital Italy Agency


Digital literacy – Best practices from the contest organised by Digital Italy Agency

The award winning initiatives were selected on the basis of their consistency with the objectives of the Italian National Programme for Culture, Education and Digital Skills and of their sustainability, scalability, size, verifiability, actual or potential impact, user-friendliness, openness.  Below are the 10 winning good practices in digital literacy and inclusion: check them out (IT only).

Digital literacy is the topic of the ongoing discussion on ICT4Society Café: join the debate and let us know about your experience and good practices!

The Benton Foundation’s Digital Inclusion and Meaningful Broadband Adoption Initiatives by Colin Rhinesmith, Ph.D.



Digital Inclusion and Meaningful Broadband Adoption Initiatives

This report presents findings from a national study of digital inclusion organizations that help low-income individuals and families adopt high-speed Internet service. The study looked at eight digital inclusion organizations across the United States that are working at the important intersection between making high speed Internet available and strengthening digital skills—two essential and interrelated components of digital inclusion, which is focused on increasing digital access, skills, and relevant content.

The four digital inclusion activities highlighted in this report were reported as being necessary for helping low-income individuals and families adopt broadband in ways that were most appropriate to their personal needs and contexts:

1 Providing low-cost broadband: Cost continues to be a major barrier to broadband adoption. Successful interventions will need to address “ability to pay” rather than “willingness to pay.” While all low-income individuals and families who participated in this study understood the value of broadband connectivity, most explained that cost remained the most significant barrier to adoption. Successful digital inclusion efforts should recognize the role that persistent poverty plays in shaping people’s abilities to access and use computers and the Internet. The findings suggest that more research is needed to understand budgeting issues and other concerns related to people’s experiences living in poverty.

2 Connecting digital literacy training with relevant content and services: Many digital inclusion organizations have developed innovative digital literacy training strategies to assist those who do not feel the Internet is relevant to them as well as those who already understand the importance of the Internet to their everyday lives. Many organizations also provide mobile digital literacy training in which they go outside their physical walls to reach people in places that are convenient to them.

3 Making low-cost computers available: Low-cost or free computers are often just as important as having access to low-cost or free Internet options, particularly for people in low-income communities. Digital inclusion organizations have embraced this reality by refurbishing older computers and making them available to low-income people for free or at a reduced cost. Some digital inclusion organizations also provide ongoing technical support to residents who need the social and technical assistance to keep their computers up and running—and connected online—over time.

4 Operating public access computing centers: Many digital inclusion organizations also maintain public access computing facilities that allow residents to access technology in places in which they feel comfortable and supported. These spaces also complement the digital literacy classes that are often offered in the same location. Low-income individuals and families value public access computing centers because they are often in convenient locations and have helpful staff that provide them with one-on-one support with computers and broadband Internet access.

The goal of this report is to help policymakers at the local, state, and federal levels, as well as researchers, practitioners, and other key stakeholders, gain a deeper understanding of how digital inclusion organizations and their community partners can be successful in their efforts to promote meaningful broadband adoption. In addition to the activities highlighted above, this research also notes:

• The importance of citywide and regional initiatives: All of the organizations identified the importance of citywide and regional digital inclusion initiatives and indicated the strength in coming together with other community partners and collaborators to support digital inclusion activities and share best practices. However, funding remains an issue to support these broader digital inclusion coalitions.

• Concerns about program sustainability: No one or mix of commercial providers delivers the full suite of access, computing, and training that non-adopters need to take advantage of the content and services broadband has to offer. Moreover, most organizations that participated in this study expressed a concern that funding for organizations is limited. More funding and support are needed for all organizations in this study that are connecting low-income residents to low-cost Internet, digital literacy training, low-cost computers, and public access computing.

• The need for outcomes-based evaluation: Most of the digital inclusion organizations that participated in this study did not have outcomes-based evaluation frameworks. However, all recognized the importance of having them. One of the surprising findings from the study was the need for outcomes-based evaluation frameworks at both the organizational and citywide/regional levels. This remains a need in many of the organizations studied.

• Digital inclusion and broader policy goals: This report also joins other researchers who have argued that digital inclusion needs to be connected to broader policy issues in order to show the impacts of digital inclusion and meaningful broadband adoption initiatives.

Rhinesmith, Colin. “Digital Inclusion and Meaningful Broadband Adoption Initiatives.” Evanston, IL: Benton Foundation, January 2016.



Digital Badges and Certificates – do they have value in your “Do It Yourself” Learning Ledger?


The Woman’s Learning Studio

Digital Badges and Certificates – do they have value in your DIY Learning Ledger?

Jane Hart, whom I follow, had some intriguing quotes from her favorite April blogs in her blog this week. One of them was by Ralph Thomas from the  EreMedia blog entitled When It Comes To Career, It’s Up To Every Employee To Stay Relevant. I clicked on the link and read the blog. In it Thomas chronicled the rise and demise of various companies, and their workers, who did not keep pace with changing moires and trends in their industries. Here is an excerpt:

The workplace of today is changing, and workers’ skill sets must keep pace with employers’ expectations. However, who determines that expectation if your livelihood is dependent on some employer to make the right strategic moves? They lose, and ultimately, you lose.

For this reason, every one of us must have a career strategy, and that strategy should be guided by your industry’s trajectory. You should be fine-tuned to the intricacies of your profession.

You have no choice. You have to self-develop to stay relevant. Always remember that YOUare in charge of your career  Never get sucked into the “company knows best” approach to your career.

Doris and I have been “preaching” the DIY lifelong learning philosophy in this blog since we began in 2013. Keeping up with your career industry, changing to a new career, or seeking volunteer opportunities all require updating existing skills, acquiring new skills, and exploring what skills are needed to succeed.

Last week’s blog, New World of Work, PKM, and Learning Ledger of the Future, introduced the digital Learning Ledger as a wave of the future that will capture and document all of  your learning in one place, open to employers, your learning networks, work teams, and others that might be interested. Although the digital Learning Ledger is still on the horizon, we can start collecting our learning experiences now to show what we know and are able to do.

Many digital learning opportunities (such as MOOCs from major universities, online courses, private learning companies such as, or Treehouse for learning how to code) offer certificates of completion and digital badges for specific tasks along the way. You may have seen these displayed on websites, LinkedIn profiles, blogs, or digital portfolios. They are becoming more prevalent.

What are Digital Certificates and Badges?

Brad Zomick identifies 5 classes of online credentials in Prove Your Skills: Test-Based Online Credentials from by Brad Zomick from 2013:

  1. College degrees: Online, blended, or on site BA, BS, MA, MS, PhD from an accredited college or university. These degrees still have the greatest value.
  2. Test-based credentials: earned by taking multiple project-based or multiple-choice tests in various skill areas.
  3. Online badges: individuals can demonstrate job skills, educational accomplishments, online course completion, specific tasks along the way, or just about anything else that a badge creator decides.  A ‘badge’ can mean almost anything.
  4. Completion certificates: Documentation of completing all the segments of a course. Like badges, completion certificates can mean anything from passing tests to viewing all the video components without documentation of learning.
  5. Online certificates: Earning an online certificate from an online college, a company or an industry-specific organization is typically much more  involved than the other credentials, and are often connected to specific job functions.

Zomick states: Among alternative credentials, online certificates currently command the highest value and are nearly comparable to a traditional degree.

He believes that alternative credentials are going to gain more prominence as time goes on. He says:

The future of education is free — free content, courses and textbooks. However, without a way for students to validate their knowledge and prove their skills, this is only one step (albeit a significant one) towards reforming higher education. Many are now beginning to attack the problem of accreditation — helping develop the next generation of certificates, badges and credentials that will allow self-learners to prove their knowledge in order to get employment and advance in their careers. The race is on to (slowly) replace the college degree as the primary way for companies to evaluate and validate talent.

Mozilla, the open source company that powers the internet browser Firefox among other initiatives, created a badge backpack in 2012 in concert with the MacArthur Foundation to house digital badges you acquire. Since they are an open source company (no proprietary copyright or use fee – their code and products are free), they believe in open source badges. Their wiki describes open source badges this way:

A digital badge is an online representation of a skill you’ve earned. Open Badges take that concept one step further, and allows you to verify your skills, interests and achievements through credible organizations and attaches that information to the badge image file, hard-coding the metadata for future access and review. Because the system is based on an open standard, earners can combine multiple badges from different issuers to tell the complete story of their achievements — both online and off. Badges can be displayed wherever earners want them on the web, and share them for employment, education or lifelong learning.

Their backpack houses your badges in one place ( a beginning ledger). Here is the infographic of their open badge and backpack concept:

The Open Badge and Backpack from Mozilla:

These badges have set criteria associated with them, so each badge has requirements for being awarded. The requirements or skills associated with the badge are visible. In other words, each badge gives you the information of what was achieved and accomplished to be awarded. Unlike the casual badges that can mean anything, these badges have gained some traction and are now awarded in conjunction with IMS Global Learning Consortium that uses them for credentialing, learning management systems such as Canvas, and the MOOC company edX. The badges are now under the auspices of edX (a MOOC conglomerate of Harvard, MIT, and Stanford among others) and Concentric Sky, and the open badging system is now called Badgr.


Does Displaying Digital Certificates and Badges Matter?

In a follow up article on, What’s It Worth? Certificates, Badges and Online Portfolios, Brad Zomick has this to say about the impact and usefulness of displaying digital certificates and badges:

A certificate of completion doesn’t mean very much. It’s a bit like when you got a trophy in 3rd grade soccer simply for showing up. Many online course providers dole them out to students who have simply sat through the entire video, including learning libraries like There is also a “badge of completion”, which is nearly identical except that a badge is a bit more digital.

…there is anecdotal evidence to support that a certificate alone is not enough to land you a job.

The perceived value of certificates of completion and badges will vary in value from employer to employer. Employers who have actually taken online courses and even learned their trade via an online learning platforms will have a better appreciation for the time you spent and the badges you earned. The majority of traditional employers, however, will not be intimately familiar … and will look upon these badges and certificates with skepticism.

Badges awarded by Badgr have more validity as they are associated with edX’s prestigious universities and have criteria associated with them. Displaying certificates and badges on your LinkedIn profile or other professional profile next to the corresponding job or project description adds validity to all badges and certificates. It does not hurt to display them, but putting them in context with your work elevates their importance.

Zomick suggests using an ePortfolio of your work with badges and certificates embedded in the appropriate places next to your work. Actual examples of what you have done with the skills you have acquired to do the work have the most validity to employers. Sounds like a Learning Ledger, doesn’t it?

Have you acquired digital credentials? Do you display them on your professional sites? What has your experience been with displaying them?

Resources used for this blog:

Wikipedia: Open Badges:

Skilled Up: Prove Your Skills: Test-based Online Credentials

Skilled Up: What’s It Worth? Certificates, Badges, and Online Portfolios

Mozilla Wiki: Open Source Badges

EreMedia: When It Comes To Career, It’s Up To Every Employee To Stay Relevant

Featured image of badges and certificates from the talented artists at Pixabay

Mozilla Backpack infographic from the Mozilla wiki

To learn more about the author, click on the link: Lisa