New Tools, Support Advance Digital Skills Training in PLA Pilot Project

For Immediate Release
Mon, 08/14/2017

Contact:

Laurence Deutsch
Manager, Communications
Public Library Association (PLA)

CHICAGO -- A new digital literacy pilot project made possible by the Public Library Association (PLA) and Cox Communications (Cox) is hitting a critical milestone this summer as participating libraries kick off training events in their communities. 

The goal of this national collaboration, which includes local libraries and local Cox affiliates in three communities, is to expand the reach of libraries’ resources and services—empowering more families to compete in the knowledge economy. East Baton Rouge Parish (Louisiana) Library, Pima County (Arizona) Public Library, and Topeka and Shawnee County (Kansas) Public Library are piloting the deployment of enhanced digital literacy training and resources in their libraries and online through the yearlong pilot.

This summer, PLA and participating libraries completed development of locally customized DigitalLearn websites, which will be integrated into the libraries’ training and community outreach programs. Pilot libraries will use the new sites for individual instruction in their branches, for blended learning in classroom programs, off-site community training at sites such as public housing, and to enable 24/7 home access to the training resources.

Libraries are using the new DigitalLearn resource to complement already robust efforts to increase digital skills and participation in their communities. Chicago Public Library was the first in the country to team with PLA to customize DigitalLearn resources to its local community—pairing it with the library’s successful CyberNavigator initiative. Cybernavigators helped at least 1,000 Chicagoans secure jobs in 2016 through one-on-one computer help supplemented by DigitalLearn tutorials, which include online job searching and creating a résumé.

Customized websites are branded to local libraries and include all of DigitalLearn.org’s growing collection of courses, as well as enabling custom course and page content from the library. Libraries can track and demonstrate impact through learner analytics, and learners visiting the library’s site can create and personalize course lists, tailor content through a course recommendation tool, track progress and receive certificates for course completions. For more information on custom library sites and to see the pilot library sites, click here.

To further promote broadband adoption and digital literacy training through public libraries and home broadband adoption, Cox and libraries also are collaborating on public service announcements (PSAs) across Cox Communications’ 18-state footprint. Affordable home broadband through efforts such as Cox's Connect2Compete program, combined with training on how to effectively use computers and the Internet, empowers underserved families to experience limitless learning and expanded opportunities. Connect2Compete offers discounted internet service for families with at least one K-12 student living in public housing, qualifying for a free or reduced school lunch through the National School Lunch Program, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) or the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

Research will be conducted to assess the pilot, which will conclude at the end of 2017, and effective practices will be shared broadly with the library field and other digital inclusion advocates.

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About the Public Library Association
The Public Library Association (PLA) is the largest association dedicated to supporting the unique and evolving needs of public library professionals. Founded in 1944, PLA serves nearly 9,000 members in public libraries large and small in communities across the United States and Canada, with a growing presence around the world. PLA offers professional development opportunities, unique public library initiatives, and a conference that welcomes public library staff into meaningful partnership. In collaboration with its parent organization, the American Library Association, PLA strives to help its members shape the essential institution of public libraries by serving as an indispensable ally for public library leaders.

About the DigitalLearn.org
DigitalLearn.org is an online hub for digital literacy support and training. The portal provides a collection of self-directed tutorials for end-users to increase their digital literacy. The site launched in June 2013 and is intended to build upon and foster the work of libraries and community organizations as they work to increase digital literacy across the nation. The interactive tutorials are available in English and Spanish, are 6-22 minutes in length, include videos and narration, and address basic technology skills like setting up email and online job searching. DigitalLearn.org was originally undertaken in partnership with the Institute of Museum and Library Services, ALA's Office of Information Technology Policy and the Chief Officers of State Library Agencies, along with representatives from national agencies, state libraries, public libraries, community organizations, and many others. 

About Cox Communications
Cox Communications is a broadband communications and entertainment company, providing advanced digital video, Internet, telephone and home security and automation services over its own nationwide IP network. The third-largest U.S. cable company, Cox serves approximately 6 million residences and businesses. Cox Business is a facilities-based provider of voice, video and data solutions for commercial customers, and Cox Media is a full-service provider of national and local cable spot and digital media advertising. Cox is known for its pioneering efforts in broadband, voice and commercial services, industry-leading customer care and its outstanding workplaces. For nine years, Cox has been recognized as the top operator for women by Women in Cable Telecommunications; Cox has ranked among DiversityInc's Top 50 Companies for Diversity 11 times. More information about Cox Communications, a wholly owned subsidiary of Cox Enterprises, is available at www.cox.com and www.coxmedia.com.