Northstar Digital Literacy

Literacy Minnesota

Northstar Digital Literacy offers free online digital literacy assessments, with skill-building resources and mastery certificates and badges available for users at official Northstar testing locations.

What This Includes

Skills addressed: Presenting Skills, Self-motivation, Navigating Systems, Personal Development, E-Safety, Digital Fluency, Versatility

Learner and instructor free resources

  • Online, self-guided assessments of basic digital literacy skills in three main areas: essential computer skills, essential software skills, and using technology in daily life
  • No badges or certificates are awarded unless assessments are taken at a Northstar testing location
  • A repository of online digital literacy skill-building materials curated by Northstar staff and organized by Northstar digital literacy standards, as well as a collection of other free, online learning resources
  • The skills associated with each digital literacy standard are explained in detail and can serve as a framework
  • Online learning digital skill-building courses, The Basic Computer Skills, Email, Microsoft Word, and Career Search Skills, are available free for a defined period while in-person testing locations are closed because of the pandemic

Learner resources at Northstar testing locations

  • Proctored digital literacy assessments leading to certificates and badges upon demonstration of mastery of skills
  • Online learning self-directed instruction and practice platform accessed through individual student accounts with instruction tailored to skill needs, based on assessment results
  • Digital literacy certificate can be earned upon completion of all assessments

Testing resources

  • Digital literacy online assessments with user login and tracking
  • Classroom and remote class lesson plans for each assessment, with detailed instructor preparation guide and learner practice activities
  • Track users’ assessments, badges, and certificates, as well as online learning work
  • Award certificates and badges to assessment users

Key Takeaways

  • Adult education students can use Northstar assessments to evaluate and build their digital literacy skills, as well as earn certificates and badges.
  • Instructors at non–Northstar testing locations can help students access free external resources, curated by Northstar staff, to study digital literacy topics organized according to the Northstar standards for learners.
  • A new assessment, along with free curricula called Supporting K–12 Distance Learning, is designed to help caregivers support children with virtual distance learning.
  • Libraries can use Northstar as part of their digital literacy and education and assessment programs.
  • Employers can use workers’ Northstar certificate of mastery to screen for mastery of defined computer skills.
  • Northstar badge and certificate earners can qualify to pursue more advanced training, certifications or career pathways elsewhere.

Northstar Digital Literacy is a program of Literacy Minnesota. It was initially developed in 2010 in response to a need identified by the Saint Paul Public Library to assess the digital literacy skills and knowledge of displaced workers in the Saint Paul, Minnesota, area and provide certificates of mastery for job seekers with employer input. Over the next few years, Northstar developers designed and extensively piloted the assessments to ensure reliability of results before a wider launch. Northstar Online Learning was released in February, 2020. Today there are more than 1,000 testing locations, including Adult Basic Education programs, community colleges, K–12 schools, libraries, workforce centers, and businesses. Northstar’s digital literacy standards have been adopted statewide in Minnesota for Adult Basic Education. Northstar is an official partner of the EdTech Center at World Education.

Adaptability & Flexibility


Critical & Creative Thinking

Digital Literacy

Navigating & Using Information


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