The Academic Upgrading Program at Sault College Offers The Northstar Digital Literacy Assessment

IT Office

The Northstar Digital Literacy Assessment, offered through the Academic Upgrading Program at Sault College, is aimed at helping adults acquire the skills they need in today’s workplace and educational settings.

“People without basic computer know-how are at a disadvantage when it comes to finding a job because employers expect basic computer skills for most jobs, including many entry-level positions, and students without basic computer skills struggle in college programs,” said Heather Ferguson, Program Coordinator. “We joined Northstar because it will help our clients have a better chance at getting jobs and getting ahead.”

The free set of assessments includes self-guided modules: Essential Computer Skills (Basic Computer Skills, Internet Basics, Using Email, Windows, Mac OS), Essential Software Skills (Word, Excel, PowerPoint), and Using Technology in Daily Life (Social Media, Information Literacy, and Creative Job Search). Closed-captioning is available and screen readers are supported.

Anyone can access the modules and take the tests online at At the end of each test, the user receives a page of results, which lists the skills that have been mastered and the areas that need improvement. Many community organizations offer computer classes that are aligned with Northstar Digital Literacy Standards.

“The modules are based on a set of basic computer competency benchmarks developed by a diverse group of literacy providers, business representatives and nonprofit agencies,” said Heather Ferguson. “These standards help ensure that computer classes are teaching adult learners the exact skills they need to succeed in the workplace and in education.”

To earn a certificate for one or more of the modules, adults must take the tests in a supervised setting at an approved test site. The Academic Upgrading Program is among many community organizations in North America using the standards as part of its programming, and offering the certificate