Canadian Internet Forum: Digital Literacy Consultation

Halifax, Nova Scotia November 10, 2010 __________________________________________________________________ This document captures the information from the opening reflection, the exercise of issue identification (sticky notes), the small group discussions on baskets of issues and the closing comments and reflection. Personal Reflection Participants were asked to consider the question: “What could/should the future of the internet in Canada be like?” 1. I want to see a repository of reliable free information that can be accessed by all Canadians regardless of their physical or mental abilities. 2. I see the Internet as a vehicle for promotion of democratic education; one that encourages and supports the creative economy; a tool that advances human kind in an open and inclusive way. 3. I feel the Internet should be accessible to all regardless of economic status. 4. I see the Internet as a staple tool for alternative deliveries of face-to-face educational content. It is an alternative to other options where there are barriers such as transportation or childcare costs; a tool where people can actually access educational resources and programs. 5. Canadian voices need to be heard as part of global dialogue. We need platforms that are accessible – we need to look at breaking down barriers. 6. I want an Internet that is affordable, adaptive and prolific. Given my work, I would add a community development spin, focussing on the importance of all the tools that are delivered through the Internet: health care, education, etc. 7. I want to see Internet access for those who wouldn't normally be able to get it. However, the question participants have been asked to reflect on is flawed, as I don’t believe that the state has any role in governing the Internet. 8. Copyright is huge for music and other creative works. I believe that something relating to Internet access as a fundamental right should be considered, similar to what other countries in the EU have done.

Digital Literacy Consultation, Halifax, NS


9. I believe that fun is important; one of the big things is the role of the Internet for social inclusion and participation, if your friends are on the Internet and you’re not, you don’t have friends. Access is an opportunity for people to be happy, it is taking the place of many traditional institutions who attempt to promote social inclusion – churches, social clubs. Also there is the whole idea of social capital and the role it plays in innovation, justice. The Internet is a key player, then, in local and global inclusion 10. The Internet is a tool for connecting people in creative and meaningful ways, but at the same time, it needs to be discussed widely in terms of what it is doing to us and to society. We need to talk about digital literacy and the ways we need to adjust to the new realities we are confronting. At the same time we need to confront some of the negative aspects, such as alienation and isolation. There are other societal causes, but we need to consider the role of the Internet as well. I see the Internet as having the potential to be empowering and engaging – but we need to move beyond talking about it solely as a tool for commerce. 11. My work and research is in hypertext and human/computer interaction. In this work, I separate applications, technology, web services and use from the technology mix and people being able to use the technology. When I saw Canada in the question I didn’t think of the state, but of the geography. I would hope that the Internet would be ubiquitous, freely available (or at least inexpensive) and with a minimal amount of government regulation (we need some regulation, because without it you couldn’t have things like net neutrality). 12. In my work I provide programs and services. Assisted technology is a boon to us, and has enabled our agency to help children and youth enhance their quality of life. I agree for the need for the net to be flexible, reliable and secure but most of my concerns relate to accessibility -- whether it’s defined by wealth, education, ability, social position or geography. 13. I feel that the Internet needs to be accessible and affordable. It should be a tool that can be used for community capacity building; to enfranchise the disenfranchised. It should be connected to the global market not only for commerce but also for education. 14. The Internet is one of our history’s fastest growing phenomenon’s, with the largest impact on society that we've ever experienced. The rate of growth and its implications is more than what most people realize. It’s a handful in the first place, but the term “wild west” is due to lack of regulation. It’s been really great for free access, but this has also been our worst enemy. The Internet is an 'inter-network' now around the planet: my concern is that although we love net neutrality, the real situation is that more and more countries are going to insist on and implement controls on information. I would like to see Canada not do this and be a leader in not doing this.

Digital Literacy Consultation, Dartmouth, NS


15. We are not just about the internet – we are talking about social networking systems, social media, everything. My particular interest is in the ability of our schools to prepare kids for the digital future, and they are currently failing in this regard. We are dealing with an outdated curriculum; even university professors with time to focus specifically on this can’t get their heads wrapped around it. And if they can't, imagine what it’s like for classroom teachers. I hope this process will lead to meaningful partnerships between industry and schools to help re-conceptualize the nature of curriculum and the nature of pedagogy: and the schools themselves need to be reconfigured.

Digital Literacy Consultation, Dartmouth, NS


Issue Identification Process The individual sticky note brainstorm generated a lot of data. The sorting exercise was done at a fairly broad level with six baskets of issues identified. Had there been more time, further sorting into sub-groupings and prioritization could easily have been done. However, moving the group to discussion was more critical than spending additional time on categorization. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. Education Government Access Copyright/ Internet Safety Culture/Personal Identity Health Concerns



1.1 Basket of Issues Educational reform – the current K-12 systems is facing a catastrophic collapse on an unprecedented scale if major changes don’t happen soon Rethinking our education system and the pedagogies we use given this new digital age Public school curriculum incorporate a much greater emphasis on digital learning and literacy Education – taught from the ground up throughout the systems Learning assessment practices that reflect and shape attitudes, skills embodied in new curricula and pedagogies Affordable technology for educational institutions Digital labs and studio spaces in all public schools P-12 Insufficient interest in developing toolkits to create accessible apps Professional development for educators – teachers and administrators Sufficient funding to initiate and sustain changes to educational practices needed for vigilant competent citizenry Access to develop digital skills for all. What digital skills are Building digital skills – learning environment Opportunities for building skills Opportunities for building awareness Education – giving Canadians the tools/education to think critically about the internet Even a “digital citizen” may not know how to use technology appropriately Critical skills that will “weed out” unreliable information Authoritative information/how do you know? Changes in publishing; make it more difficult to evaluate

Digital Literacy Consultation, Dartmouth, NS


People adapting themselves to inadequate tools and thus losing thinking skills 1.2 Small Group Discussion of Issues The issue discussed was: Critical skills and attitudes through content. Current status Current system is inadequate to prepare citizenry – can’t keep up with content/concept demand (i.e. knowledge growth) Obstacles Money Lack of vision and leadership Absence of any sense of urgency Vested interests Is having the technology essential for critical thinking skills? Opportunities Community colleges more responsive to addressing some needs Community colleges more affordable Who needs to act? Government Parents Education system is “stretched” – hard to take a lead involvement as each is involved in so many things related to existing work/job Maybe the question should be “what is the message” to drive a sense of urgency Other stakeholders Private sector Youth What will cause or help other stakeholders to “buy-in”?



2.1 Issues Learning as a society to strategically engage with the internet as opposed to continually playing catch up and reacting to issues Recognition that strong digital economy comes out of strong digital citizenry Lack of national discussion forum for individual communities/citizenry Lack of national (not necessarily government) vision/leadership
Digital Literacy Consultation, Dartmouth, NS


Too little innovation Question: Have we moved beyond Englebart’s 1968 demo Answer: Barely How effective are global/international protocols/standards Fundamental rights – 8 countries have declared Internet access, 4 more are in the process. To remain competitive Canada must do the same That the information available on the Internet be accurate – not censoredregulated Restrict government control of data flow to issues of criminal activity Criminal law must be updated to reflect changing reality of digital worlds Accessibility of public funded content – crown copyright Too much corporate influence (via government/otherwise) Commercial corporate control Availability of Canadian hosted services vs government regulation (PIPEDA, etc) Control of service provides is not further concentrated Who’ll control our financial currency? Intervention on the Internet – rules of engagement/enforcement (e.g. risky sexual behaviour online among teens) Changing media – increasingly, journalism is changing and even traditional print media often “refers” you online for the rest of the story 2.2 Small Group Discussion Discussion centered on two areas – infrastructure and regulation. Barriers – Infrastructure (italics indicate who should act) Cost of access (Government) Access to broadband (Government, ISPs) Speed (ISPs) Opportunities – Infrastructure Increase access to research network (Acorn and like organizations) Lead the way in IPV6 (CIRA) Waking partnership between NGOs, government and private sector (NGOs including research networks, government, private sector Barriers – Regulation Lack of competition – ISPs (Industry Canada) Net neutrality (NGOs that represent industry to Government) Civil law reform (Government, ICT law committees) Opportunities – Regulation Increased access (Governement, ISPs) Regain our position for greater competitiveness Open government access (Government)

Digital Literacy Consultation, Dartmouth, NS


Other Stakeholders Higher education (universities, colleges) Canadian security establishment/CSIS UN (conventions/treaties)



3.1 Issues That the cost of accessing the internet not be a factor for Canadians It remains affordable and accessible for all That the internet be accessible to all Canadians regardless of their geographical location Accessibility geographically – remote areas infrastructure development Access for all and reliable connection Isolation of those that cannot afford and keep up with technology Access – the need to address the digital divide Digital divide – no clear policy on the digital divide which itself changes rapidly Rate of change with regards to what the internet is – no mention of mobile for example (think youth) How can “access” be maximized? Resources for communities to meet needs of target groups (seniors, youth, etc) Too slow – lack of access Is content reflecting all populations? Open access to government data and services Are we involving everyone in the shaping of the Internet?

Small Group Discussion Current status a) Availability - pipes and mortar On its way but faces challenges (business case, geography, monopolies telecom policy – is Internet Access a human right? Context for that? Action – government and telecoms – community input b) Availability - content Fragmented vs organized Skills needed to navigate and understand More content to digitize and make available

Digital Literacy Consultation, Dartmouth, NS


Affordable Debatable, what is affordable to me… i-phone vs basic internet Barriers Definition Monopoly of telcoms Cost going down Action – Community advocacy groups – leadership Alternatives: CAPS sites, libraries, part of the answer The answer: best practices – other nations Support for those facing barriers - Physical, social, economic, education, language, culture, age, etc. Issues related to above is no coordinated leadership or vision/mandate


Copyright/ Internet Safety

4.1 Issues How will we achieve fair copyright with users/creators (the balance)? Knowledge of libel/copyright/media rights/ privacy Clarity regarding copyright Copyright reform – should foster P2P rather than protect the “old paradigm” Relentless surveillance (video/analog and text/audio digital) Balance protection with ease of access Security of information Security of access and reliability of data (imaging no paper telephone book during a power failure What steps should/can be taken to provide a balance between freedom and security? Internet safety as a barrier to access Lack of awareness of risks – the indelible trail/the “forever cookie” Community/parental support to prevent negative outcomes @ policy – especially for educators – can they share beyond their students


Culture/ Personal Identity

5.1 Issues Need for clear Canadian content mechanisms Canadian content and technology is not crowded out We maintain the positive branding of .ca
Digital Literacy Consultation, Dartmouth, NS


Disconnect between youth and older generations Internet culture – is it teachable? Paradigms? Personal identity vs employee identity – identity as a commodity – who owns it? Help Canadians and young people to understand what the Internet is and what it is not Disconnect between Internet/other bodies Polarization of community on internet forums/netiquette/manners How will we preserve our cultural information and make it accessible to all? Cocooning and isolation into homogeneous self-selected groups (echo chambers) Search engines make unconventional views hare to find (Google as power broker and concentrator) Disconnect between user expectation and provider capacity No one spells anymore – they just text – will there be crossword puzzles in 10 years time? Spam, spam, spam Current Status (Regarding topics of copyright, Internet safety and culture) Copyright in flux Harmful to educators – do you need to be a lawyer to teach? Control of information Not enough knowledge about internet safety Controversy dictates policy Have community values changed? Have changed! - e.g. teen sexuality - privacy/publicity - copyright/intellectual property same old story with Canadian identity/culture (regionalization, language, etc. Barriers/opportunities (Regarding Internet safety) Threat/fear of litigation IT - dominance of service, dependence Open source – cloud computing Online community development Lack of awareness Who needs to act (Regarding Internet safety) Government to set the playing field only, promotion Government funds for grassroots deployment of open source products, UN conferences/ ‘hackathons’, research by NGOs etc. NGOs - support grass roots development

Digital Literacy Consultation, Dartmouth, NS


- rese earch Blogg gers/social media user rs - draw attention to needs w - prov vide tutorials Busin nesses with products/s services for youth? r Stakeholders (Rega arding Inter rnet safety) ) Educa ators Comm munity serv vices Blogg gers/social media peop ple



ssues 6.1 Is Physic deterior cal ration of bod dies since w do so m we much online Health and wellness of a “si at a comp h it puter” lifesty yle Health care refor – our he h rm ealth care sy ystems is s simply not e equipped to o deal with pandem of techn w mic nology addictions Medic dangers of WiFi cal Avoidi distraction, procras ing stination, etc, and sup pport from e employers The h health bask of issues was not d ket s discussed.

Plen nary Discu ussion
What issues mi t ight be mis ssing? No oth hers were id dentified. e nsultation w who is not here toda t ay? Who should be included in this con t ctors/stakeholders sh hould be in nvolved? What other sec Sunny Ma arche, Actin Dean, Faculty of Information M ng Management, Dalhous sie University y: Andrew Manning, Fa M aculty of Ed ducation, M Mount Saint Vincent Un niversity: andrew.m manning@m Bernie Ha Chair, C art, Chebucto C Community Net: office chebucto Annapolis Fiber to th Hole (AF s he FTH) ISPs Private Sector Teenager rs Bloggers/ /social med people dia More dive ersity – thos who “don’t have ac se ccess”
Digital Literacy Consu ultation, Dartm mouth, NS


How might CIGF serve to help advance the issues? Host and share information online with the broader community Increased data centres Advocacy for more creative commons (access to government data in particular) – license it so people can access it and learn to use it appropriately. Evaluation Comments Several people had to leave prior to 5 pm. For the final 10 minutes only 8 participants remained. We did not do a formal paper evaluation. They were asked to comment on how they felt about what had been accomplished here today. An interesting final conversation took place. Key points made: There is a real role for what CIRA is doing in this process and the forum. There is no national leadership on this: no one is facilitating this discussion across the country. Participants liked the energy, diversity and concern demonstrated. It would be nice if the conversation could go forward. Participants expressed hope that the information will be brought forward by CIRA, Media Awareness Network, etc Thank-you - a worthwhile afternoon One participant noted he wanted to see it go forward as it was draining to participate – energizing as well -- and he would not want to have to discuss this all over again. He felt as if the process was well-organized, and looked like it was going forward. Said he would be very happy if something is achieved from this. Concern was expressed that the process is isolated – we all leave and move on to our busy lives and what happens to move it forward? Another participant noted that he was scared and disappointed regarding how prolific the internet is and its affect on us. Believes this is a big issue and wondered where everybody else was. (Clarification was then made as to who had been reached out to through the invitation process and the fact that we wanted it to be limited in number of participants. It was also made clear that more individuals would be invited to contribute through the discussion forums and the national event.)

Digital Literacy Consultation, Dartmouth, NS


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