Building Instructional Capacity for Digital Literacy Teaching in the NWT (DigitalNWT)

Main Project Contact:

Allison Chandler

Project Start Date:


Project End Date:

March 2022

Project Name:

Building Instructional Capacity for Digital Literacy Teaching in the NWT (DigitalNWT)

ARI Team:

Allison Chandler

Jessica Dutton


Digital literacy, or an individual’s ability to find and interact with information on digital platforms, is an important skill in modern society. This project seeks to strengthen digital literacy across remote communities in the Northwest Territories, by training specialists to deliver tailor-made courses in their home communities. Each year, a new course of increasing complexity will be offered to communities, covering topics like online security, social media, and connections between technology and traditional ways.

Researchers are conducting research throughout the territory to see what topics are the most important to include and will publish their findings about their experience building digital literacy in remote locations. Hopefully, the successes of this project can help inspire other remote regions to implement similar programs.


This project has two main objectives: to 1) train a cohort of Northern community-based digital literacy instructors; and 2) create, test and evaluate three sets of regionally-appropriate open-access digital literacy curricula.

The curricula are being designed to answer the specific priorities of the North, and will cover topics related to basic digital literacy skills, digital content and digital connectivity in the NWT, and region-specific modules.

At the end of the project, all project material will be handed off to regional organizations. Sufficient support should be in place to ensure the long-term sustainability of the DigitalNWT initiative.


The courses will be taught in communities across the NWT, starting in January 2020. The project’s goal is to reach as many communities as possible.


Data collection is centered on the experiences of the trainers teaching the community workshops, and the experiences of the participants themselves. In advance of the community workshops, a general survey will be conducted in each community to assess digital priorities and needs. The curriculum is also designed in close consultation with adult educators in the communities and local experts. Interviews will be conducted with ‘key informants’ across the territory, including those who have special knowledge of digital technologies in the North.

Every community participant will also be surveyed during the workshop, to assess their opinions about the course as well as how their skills may have improved.

The project will produce an annual report to be delivered to partner Indigenous governments, who may choose to release it publicly. Any research results will be published in open access journals, and the project team is currently planning further outreach events in participant communities.


The community workshops for the first course will run starting winter 2020. Each Spring, the project team starts devising the next course’s curriculum, and it is refined until delivery the following winter. In August of every year, the project puts on a training session for those who will deliver the courses in the communities, to source their input on the content and prepare them to deliver the content.

Three courses will run each year, until the project concludes in March 2022.

External Partners:

University of Alberta

Aurora College

Computers for Schools NWT

Tlicho Government

Sahtu Renewable Resources Board

Gwich’in Tribal Council

Inuvialuit Regional Corporation

Hands On Media

Tides Canada

Innovation, Science and Economic Development (ISED) Canada

Start Date: 
Monday, January 1, 2018