About Applied Digital Skills

Applied Digital Skills is a free, online digital skills curriculum. Lessons and materials are appropriate for a wide range of learners, from middle school to college, and beyond.

The Applied Digital Skills curriculum uses a series of videos to guide learners through creating a project from scratch. This means that learners who complete a lesson leave with a useful project, such as a resume, a college planning sheet, or an interactive story. 

What does Applied Digital Skills teach?

With hundreds of hours of online video curriculum, Applied Digital Skills covers a wide range of topics that teach digital literacy as well as practical life and job skills. The curriculum includes both longer lessons that range from 2 - 9 hours and shorter lessons that range from 45 - 90 minutes.

Examples of longer lessons include:

Examples of shorter lessons include:

Applied Digital Skills also includes a growing library of “Explore a Topic” lessons that link digital skills with important technology and research topics. These lessons — which include Explore a Topic: Technology’s Role in Current Events and Explore a Topic: Innovators — encourage self-directed research that highlights learners’ creativity and critical thinking skills. 

Why is it important to teach digital skills?

Applied Digital Skills encourages learners to think beyond the classroom and apply learnings to relevant, real-life problems. This approach helps them gain digital literacy and prepare for the future.

Digital literacy refers to the knowledge and skills needed to communicate and organize tasks on the digital platforms or applications necessary to operate in today’s society. 

The American Library Association offers this definition: 

Digital literacy is the ability to use information and communication technologies to find, evaluate, create, and communicate information, requiring both cognitive and technical skills.

Digital literacy, problem-solving, and creativity are often cited as essential skills for jobs of the future. But the 2018 McGraw-Hill Education Future Workforce Survey revealed that just 41% of U.S. college students feel very or extremely prepared to enter the workforce. Specifically, respondents noted that they felt they did not gain critical transitional skills, such as complex problem solving (43%) and resume writing (37%), while in school.

Through Applied Digital Skills, learners are tasked with tackling financial decision making, event planning, project management, and more. They can complete lessons in groups, which helps foster collaborative learning, or independently, which makes the classroom more inclusive for different learning levels. The video lessons give teachers the freedom to focus on connecting more directly with their students. 

By focusing on digital skills in a targeted, project-based manner, learners are able to expand their knowledge and are encouraged to be lifelong learners.

What grades and ages is Applied Digital Skills suitable for?

Middle and High School

Our curriculum was designed for particular grades (ex. middle school and high school learners) but teachers have adapted Applied Digital Skills to work for learners in all grades. If your students can open an internet browser, switch between browser tabs, and use a keyboard and mouse, they can likely complete one of our more simple lessons like Write an If-Then Adventure Story.

For curriculum specifically designed for younger students, check out Be Internet Awesome. This  curriculum is for students ages 8-11, and teaches them how to be safe and confident explorers of the online world. Or, check out CS First, an elementary and middle school curriculum that teaches students to code using the Scratch programming language. 

Adult Learning - College and Continuing Education

Our College and Continuing Education curriculum is designed for adult learners in spaces like community colleges, workforce development trainings, libraries, at home and more, with over 50 hours of content spanning topics like budgeting, finding a job, and project management. 

Lessons like Use Google to Get a New Job go through activities like researching and finding jobs in the community, developing resumes, preparing for interviews, and creating job plans to help students better develop the skills they need for a successful new job hunt. 

Additional Resources

Read our Help Center articles How to Use Applied Digital Skills and About the Curriculum for more information about grade and age-appropriate instruction.

How does Applied Digital Skills work?
  1. Teachers sign up for free and select a lesson.
  2. Learners watch a set of videos online and complete the project-based activity. (Each video includes instructions to guide learners through completing a larger project.)
  3. Learners complete assessments to show what they’ve learned.
  4. Teachers can track achievements through their Applied Digital Skills dashboard. 

Each lesson is taught through self-paced, step-by-step videos that reduce the pressure on teachers to be technology experts. By the end of each video, learners will have completed an engaging project that teaches important digital skills through relatable content.

The curriculum is designed to be flexible, so teachers can use some or all of the lessons and teach them in any order. Lessons can be used for an entire class to complete at once as well as for individual learners to engage with outside of the classroom. 

Lessons also encourage peer mentorship and collaboration while freeing up teachers to support individual learners. Using the instructional videos alongside G Suite online tools allows for instructors to teach digital skills while maximizing blended learning in a classroom.

Where can I use or teach Applied Digital Skills?

These free, online materials can be used in any lab, library, or venue with internet access, computers, and headphones. For those in tech-limited classrooms or settings, videos can also be downloaded directly to your computer. The curriculum is flexible, and teachers can pick whichever lessons they want to teach: use the entire curriculum for a whole semester or choose to teach individual lessons.

For example, an English teacher could teach digital skills with Research and Develop a Topic, which covers researching, writing, and testing for source credibility. Or, they could have learners see how to use code to find overused words in a document with Create an Editing Tool with Programming.

A math teacher may want to use Create a Guide to an Area to teach how to use structured data. Lessons can fit into many different subjects, and we encourage teachers to get creative. 

For more ways to use or teach Applied Digital Skills, read our Help Center article How to Use Applied Digital Skills.