By Cal Braid
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Sunny South News
The County of Lethbridge Community Learning Council (CLCLC) will be running a Basic Digital Skills program at the Coaldale Public Library. The course runs from April 28 to June 2 on Thursday evenings from 6-8 p.m. It is designed for adults over the age of 18 who want to improve their digital skills and overall command of computer technology. The fee is $10.
Melanie Patenaude, executive director at the CLCLC, described digital literacy as an essential part of everyone’s ability to function skillfully in day-to-day activities. “The ability to use basic technology is a core skill Albertans need to be able to participate actively in society, to pursue further learning, and to be successful in their work,” she said. “This is why our program is focused on ensuring adult foundational learners in our community can access learning opportunities and supports in digital skills. Digital skills are used in almost all areas of daily life from the grocery store checkouts to restaurant apps.”
“Our program exists to address the foundational needs of adults and to address knowledge and skills gaps,” Patenaude continued. “Basic digital skills (are) one component of foundational learning along with adult literacy, numeracy, and English language learning.” Digital literacy remains a key barrier, apart from infrastructure to higher internet uptake, and contributes to the digital divide.
The course aims to increase and improve the basics of computer literacy. It will introduce the components of a computer, smartphone, or tablet and will teach mouse and keyboard skills. Additionally, it will include teaching on software, file management, internet browsers and email. Social media platforms (Facebook, Instagram etc.) will also be covered. Internet safety is a concern for online users, and the program will instruct participants on “how to spot safe websites, when and where it is safe to enter your personal information, and not opening or clicking on certain content,” Patenaude said.
The CLCLC will run the program with the help of grant funding from the Ministry of Advanced Education and the government of Alberta. The provincial and federal governments have agreed to a four-year program to create the infrastructure to provide high-speed Internet to approximately 200,000 households in Alberta that have limited connectivity. The Basic Digital Skills program is a necessary link in the chain of connectivity. Computer skills, access to digital devices, and affordable internet services are all needed to function in the online world. Without them, the additional infrastructure serves as a delivery system that is accessible only to those with the means and skills to use it.
In March 2022, the government of Canada announced an additional “increase (in) joint funding from $300 million to $780 million to connect households in rural, remote, and Indigenous communities to high-speed Internet. Of this funding, $390 million will come from the Government of Canada through the Universal Broadband Fund (UBF), and $390 million will come from the Government of Alberta.”
The Basic Digital Skills program begins on April 28. Those interested can contact the CLCLC at communityclasses.ca/contact-us/