Northstar Digital Literacy

Northstar is a program of the Minnesota Literacy Council, whose mission is to share the power of learning through education, community building, and advocacy.

About Northstar

The Northstar Digital Literacy Assessment defines basic skills needed to perform tasks on computers and online. Online, self-guided modules assess the ability of individuals to perform tasks based on these skills. Included are basic computer digital literacy standards and modules in three main areas:

  • Essential Computer Skills - Computer Basics, Internet Basics, Email, Windows OS, Mac OS X
  • Essential Software Skills – Word, Excel, PowerPoint
  • Using Technology to Accomplish Tasks - Social Media, Information Literacy.

Northstar was developed in response to the needs of job seekers who may lack the digital literacy skills needed to seek, obtain, and retain employment, as well as to perform other tasks in daily life. Northstar allows end users to freely take the assessments from anywhere via our homepage, but individuals can instead go to an approved testing location and obtain the Northstar Digital Literacy Certificate when they pass assessments. Certificates provide an important credential for employment, as even entry-level jobs increasingly require basic computer skills. Certificates also certify end user ability to complete computer skills needed in higher education, and demonstrate their ability to use social media and online information thoughtfully. If individuals do not pass, personalized assessment results provide a roadmap to relevant instruction, allowing them to retake the assessment once they have mastered the necessary skills.

Northstar is used by over 670 Adult Basic Education programs, colleges, nonprofits, workforce centers, government agencies, and businesses. There is no cost to complete the assessments on the Northstar homepage.

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Timeline & History

Frequently Asked Questions

General Information

For Testing Locations

About Badging

  • Digital Badges (or Open Badges) is a new movement in credentialing. Badges are a way to display and document skills learned both in and out of the classroom. They are often used to demonstrate independent learning and skills mastered in service and volunteering, online learning and computer skills, and job skills or work experience. The Mozilla Foundation has created a way to coordinate and standardize badges, Open Badges. It is a common system for issuing, collecting, and displaying badges earned on multiple instructional websites. Badge issuers, like Northstar, register a learning opportunity, linking it to the online badging system. Once a task is completed, a test-taker is awarded a badge, which is then stored in his or her secure Badge Backpack, a webpage that serves as a transportable portfolio to be shared with employers or other stakeholders who need to know that person's skills and experience.

  • “Open Badges” is a means by which assessment test takers can keep a permanent, accessible record of assessments they have passed. Test-takers just need an email address to open a backpack account. After that, they can access the record of their Northstar success through their own Mozilla Backpack webpage. Instructions for issuing a badge are available through the admin portal.

  • From your badges Backpack, you should make a collection of your badges. To do that, click on "Collections," and then "New Collection." Once you've made a collection of the badges you want to share, and made it public, you can click on the little "share" button in the bottom right corner of that collection. Then, you'll be given a page with a hyperlink at the top that you can copy and paste into your resume. (should look like this:

    If you're looking for additional ways to share badges, you could also check out this article:

These days, every employee needs basic computer skills to perform even most entry-level jobs. Northstar Digital Literacy helps job seekers demonstrate to employers that they have mastered basic skills.