Digital Resilience in the American Workforce

 Building Skills and Literacy for Equitable Advancement

September 2021

Technology is integral to nearly every aspect of our daily lives, including the way we learn and work. Therefore, everyone must develop digital resilience—the awareness, skills, agility, and confidence necessary to be empowered users of new technologies, actively participate in society, and adapt to the labor market’s ever-changing demands for digital expertise. To ensure that learners achieve digital resilience, educators must develop programming that integrates and applies digital skills content that’s immediately relevant yet forward-looking and designed for use in multiple contexts.

Yet research shows that nearly 32 million Americans struggle to use a computer, and half of all Americans say they are not confident using technology to learn. Moreover, many adult education instructors have not been trained in best practices for offering digital literacy instruction to learners. Persistent gaps in access to technology and opportunities to develop digital skills exacerbate societal disparities, disproportionately impacting Black learners and workers and other people of color. This digital divide threatens to impede economic recovery efforts, as more than 8 in 10 mid-level jobs require digital skills.

To help adult education practitioners improve their ability to support learners who struggle to fully engage in tasks that demand use of digital technologies, JFF and World Education, with support from the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education, have launched a new initiative called Digital Resilience in the American Workforce (DRAW). Through DRAW, we aim to do the following:

  • Support professional development that enables teachers to be strategic and learner-focused in their lesson planning and instruction
  • Support adult education programs in designing effective, flexible technology-enabled education and support services
  • Provide state Adult Education and Family Literacy Act (AEFLA) funders and their professional development providers with models, guidance, and resources for supporting programs that sustain and expand digital literacy efforts

As part this new undertaking, we will provide the field with flexible, evidence-based, and piloted strategies and materials that help teachers build the digital literacy and digital resilience of adult learners. These efforts will help to ensure that adult learners can obtain the technical skills necessary for postsecondary education and training, employment, civic engagement, and economic self-sufficiency.

Together, and in partnership with practitioners across the country, we will do the following:

  • Conduct a landscape scan to identify and curate existing resources for assessing and developing digital literacy skills and resilience
  • Co-create additional resources to fill gaps identified in the landscape scan
  • Develop a digital library to pull resources together in user-friendly, flexible formats with actionable strategies that work with diverse populations of adult learners, including beginning level English learners
  • Train adult education professionals in how to integrate high-quality resources into their instruction

How You Can Get Involved

Ongoing:

You can stay connected to DRAW through the LINCS Integrating Technology group and the Advancing Equity in Digital Learning; Employment Tech for Adults Listserv.

Fall 2021: Landscape Scan

The Landscape Scan will be released Summer 2022 - but we’ll share findings throughout the year via the LINCS group, listserv, and conference presentations.

Fall 2022: Technical Assistance Pilot

We will be inviting states and local programs to apply for a technical assistance pilot. This pilot will include a national webinar, state/local program selection, and coaching. More information about the pilot will be available in Fall 2022.

Summer 2022-Fall 2023: Resource Dissemination

Stay connected to DRAW to access the materials, curricula, frameworks, and tools that will shared and/or created through this initiative.

Key Partners

JFF World Education, Inc.
Safal Partners
Performance Excellence Partners
Rock Creek Video Production