Digital Literacy: Action Plan Commitment 10


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Lead implementing department(s)
Employment and Social Development Canada
Open Information
Reporting period

End-of-term (July 1, 2014 to June 30, 2016)


On Schedule

Support the development of tools, training resources, and other initiatives to help Canadians acquire the essential skills needed to access, understand, and use digital information and new technologies.

Deliverables Status / Final Results Lessons Learned Completion Level

Sponsor projects to increase understanding of the relationship between digital skills and relevant labour market and social outcomes.

Results from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development's (OECD) Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC) adult skills survey, 2012, provided the basis for governments' understanding of digital skills levels in Canada and internationally.

Thematic reports are being developed based on PIAAC results. Topics are: post-secondary education, adult learning and literacy, immigrants, labour market outcomes, official languages, health and social outcomes, and Aboriginal populations. Substantial work has been completed on the reports. They are expected to be released in late 2016.

More results and lessons to come once the thematic reports are released.


Develop online tools, training materials, and other resources to enable individual Canadians to assess and improve their digital skills.

Provided funding and support for the development and validation of the Canadian English and French versions of the OECD's new online skills assessment tool (Education and Skills Online) that includes digital skills. The tool is based on PIAAC.  The tool was finalized by the OECD, Educational Testing Services and Council of Ministers of Education, Canada (CMEC) and released in summer 2016.

From the portion of the activity that was funded by ESDC, there were significant challenges in recruiting participants for the field test in both French and English.

Test takers and administrators can contact the Council of Ministers of Education (CMEC) directly to purchase licenses to access the Canadian English and French versions of the tool.

Additionally, the Government of Canada continues to develop and launch tools that allow users to effectively visualize and understand data. These tools include things like the Open Maps portal and TBS InfoBase.


Fund private sector and civil society initiatives aimed at improving the digital skills of Canadians.

Funding provided through contribution agreements to support digital skills assessment and improvement projects:

Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM):

  • This project developed and tested a self-directed online training game called Neuroludus to help individuals assess and enhance their analytical/ information processing skills so that they can more easily acquire and deploy digital skills.
  • The game has 90 levels with 3,060 exercises. It is available free online at and as a free Apple and Android application.
  • On average, it took 12 hours of play time for players to change their cognitive style and achieve a substantial improvement in their information processing skills.

Community Business Development Corporation (CBDC), Restigouche:

  • This project developed training materials and tools to support small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in rural regions across Canada in identifying organizational needs, and enhancing the digital skills of their employees.
  • The participating SMEs improved their effectiveness in supporting their employees to assess and enhance their digital skills proficiency.
  • Employees with lower literacy skills had greater improvements in digital skill scores than employees with higher literacy skills. Participants' confidence with information and communications technology (ICTs) also increased significantly.
  • Employers observed improvements in employees' digital skills and ICT proficiency, and improved attitudes towards work-related and digital skills training.
  • This project will inform discussions on digital skills assessments and leveraging opportunities to improve Canadians' access to training and supports to achieve greater labour market efficiency.
  • The model can be used in any industrial sector, thus supporting e-learning more broadly and enabling SMEs to take advantage of online skills development


  • Brain training requires a significant time commitment. The two primary barriers to engagement in the training were motivation and incentive.
  • In online learning games, players play on their own terms and may stop playing when they think they have obtained what they want from the game.
  • Lower income groups may be excluded from these kinds of learning activity if they are required to pay user fees. Along with other barriers, this could create a new sort of digital divide. It was recommended that training should be free and easily accessible to all (as it was in this project).  Blended learning was identified as a good practice with other supports (such as mentors) provided to those who need them.


  • Participants valued the flexibility in being able to access to the e-learning platform at different times and in different locations.
  • Blended learning was identified as a good practice as it was noted that it would be helpful to have a designated person within each workplace to be a Workplace Coach, who would support their co-workers as they participate in the digital training.



Supports the principles of civic participation, and is targeted at helping address the OGP Grand Challenge of improving public services by helping Canadians to assess and improve their digital skills so that they can better take advantage of data and information made available by the government.


Facilitates the assessment of Canadians' existing digital skills and develop resources and initiatives to help improve these skills, so that Canadians are better able to access and take advantage of Canada's open government initiatives.

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