Digital Skills: A Gateway to Opportunity - Digital Promise

Digital Skills: A Gateway to Opportunity

On June 13, 2016, Chicago Public Library and Digital Promise teamed up to host Digital Skills: A Gateway to Opportunity, a convening focused on how to increase the number of people who are digitally prepared for jobs, learning, civic engagement and the internet of everything.

Agenda | Bios| Attendee List | Resources

Learn today, use tomorrow

A key goal of the convening was to bring leading thinkers and practitioners on digital literacy and adult learning together to share perspectives, experiences and ideas from their own work. An opening lightning round session set the stage with diverse perspectives from community organizations, government, funders and corporations.

Learnings top image v3

The next two sessions focused on efforts, both national and local, that led up to this convening. The first was an attempt to understand the technology landscape as it is related to adult education. Research conducted by Tyton Partners shows an environment among educators and adult-serving institutions that is receptive to technology — both nationally and in Illinois. The second was the efforts by Chicago Public Library to develop a program targeted at developing basic digital skills for adults. Andrea Sáenz and the team from Chicago shared their learnings, including the need for community partnerships, the need for a human touch and the need to use human-centered design to inform work with a developer to create a product that truly meets the learner’s needs.

Learnings middle image v3

During lunch, Kickstarter co-founder Charles Adler shared his thoughts about design-thinking to problem-solve in an ever-changing 21st century world.

Lunch session

A second lightning round gave the opportunity for several other initiatives around the country to share their experiences and learnings.

Learnings bottom

In small group discussions, attendees then exchanged ideas and dove deeper into specific promising practices. Ultimately, each participant identified one thing they could do tomorrow as a result of what they learned at the meeting. See the commitment photo gallery here.




Take Concrete Action

A second key goal of the day was to think concretely and collaboratively about ways to increase digital literacy among low-skilled adults. During the final working session, groups focused on six big ideas heard throughout the day. The task was to brainstorm next steps — concrete next steps — that local, regional and national organizations might take to help move the needle on digital skills. The beauty of these brainstorms is that they truly reflected the diverse perspectives represented in the room. See the Idea photo gallery here.

Big Ideas Collage

Look Ahead

Digital Promise and Chicago Public Library will be looking to incorporate these big ideas into our strategic plans over the next months. Additionally, we hope to continue to engage our meeting participants in community and national working groups focused around one or more of these topics. If you’d like to get involved in a working group, please email

A special thanks to the Joyce Foundation, the Boeing Company, JP Morgan Chase and the Chicago Public Library Foundation for their support.

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