Digital Literacy in Canada

Digital literacy is something that is becoming more and more important worldwide, and Canada is not excluded from the list. Simply put, digital literacy is when an individual has the ability to use digital devices and the corresponding resources to find, understand, and use information. It also involves using these digital methods to create information of their own. Essentially, it is about having access to digital devices as well as having the knowledge of how to use them. It may seem that today almost everyone is well versed in how to use technology. Let’s take a look at how Canada measures up:

Access to Networks in Canada

Almost a decade ago, Canada was lagging compared to its global counterparts in terms of internet access. However, in the recent years, the country has caught up and even surpassed many other nations across the world. In fact, according to a poll in 2013, Canada was ranked the 16th most wired country in the world. There are close to a 30 million internet users in the country. This roughly amounts to about 87 percent of the Canadian households having access to the internet.

The internet is not the only way that Canadians have more access to technology, however. It was assessed in 2015 that 68 percent of Canadians have access to a smartphone. This number had sharply risen in just a year. What was quite discerning, however, were the age groups that stood out during this survey. Instead of teenagers taking the lead, it was found that individuals aged between 25 and 54 were most likely to own a smartphone, particularly a new one. This meant that there was a wider range of ages being included in the tech savvy field.

Digital Natives

Digital natives is yet another term that was coined to deal with the influx of technology, particularly among the younger generation. A digital native is someone who has grown up with technology for most, if not all, of their life. This is something that we are beginning to see with the current generation. It is likely that children under the age of five are unaware of what it is like to grow up without the internet.

This is not where the term begins and ends, nonetheless. It also looks at just how well these children, particularly Canadian kids, are capable of exhibiting digital literacy. For the most part, it has been found that students across the board have become quite skilled at using the internet to find information. Canadian students have even become quite adept at authenticating these sources, although this is primarily done for educational purposes alone. Finally, students, thanks to social media, have shown some talent at creating material of their own.

Still, there is a great deal more work to be done, particularly in the education system. Children need to be trained to use technology better and more effectively. Furthermore, they should also be groomed to develop helpful skills and strategies of their own. This is something that needs to be improved in order for children to be truly considered digital natives.

The Digital Divide in Canada

First of all, it has been proven that those with a higher incomes are more likely to have internet in their homes than those with lower incomes. For individuals in the higher earning categories, 95 percent of the homes have access to internet. For those who earn less, this number drops down sharply to around 62 percent.

This trend can also be seen when surveying urban and rural areas – rural areas are almost 15 percent less likely to have access to the internet. Furthermore, there is also a discrepancy between regions within Canada. Alberta and British Columbia are more likely to have internet access than Quebec, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island.

Aboriginal populations face a similar problem. They may have less of a chance for having access to the necessary technology. They are also less likely to have the educational facilities to learn about technology as well. It was estimated that only about 7 percent of the aboriginal communities in BC, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and Nunavut had access to high-speed internet.

Another segment where the digital divide exists is within age groups. Those who are younger, particularly up to the age of 25 are more likely to be well versed in technology, as you can imagine. However, for individuals over the age of 65, there is a sharp downturn indicating that there is very little education regarding these matters for the elderly.

All of this shows that Canada has come a long way in terms of digital literacy. Nevertheless, the region still has a long way more to go to be considered truly digitally literate as a nation.


Best Canadian Universities for Computer Science Programs

Computer Science is one of the best subjects to major in anywhere in the world. Degrees in computer science are quite popular in Canada, as they are everywhere in the world. Despite the demand in the thriving Canadian and U.S. tech fields, having just about any computer science degree will not get you anywhere. You will need to graduate from one of the Top 3 universities for computer science to get the best job, research, and networking opportunities.

Here are the best universities in Canada for studying computer science that will surely boost your resume:

University of Toronto

The University of Toronto is one of the biggest and most popular campuses in Canada. It’s famous for hectoring stone buildings, and also for world-class degrees, especially in computer science. The computer science degree offered by UoT is often ranked #1 in Canada, and gets top scores among all degrees offered globally. The computer science department on campus is currently ranked Canada’s best. You can study computer science at both graduate and undergraduate levels here.

Admission is competitive, but if you do get admitted, you will have access to the award-winning Bahen Centre for Information Technology, which acts as the de facto headquarters for CS majors on campus. You will get instructions from the leaders in the industry. You can also get involved in cutting-edge research at the department’s state-of-the-art labs.

The costs for a CS degree from University of Toronto could be as much as $13,000 per year for domestic students at both graduate and undergraduate levels. Other costs, such as costs of living in the city, could add on to this estimate.

University of British Columbia

The University of British Columbia’s computer science program is the second best in Canada, and it is ranked one of the best in the world. The undergraduate and graduate programs are renewed for the emphasis on research and the style of teaching. The department has more than doubled in size in recent years, and has expanded research into top fields like artificial intelligence, bioinformatics, data mining, and integrated systems. The UBC CS department has nine high-end research labs dedicated to nine different subjects.

UBC is great to study computer science and get practical and research experience, which would definitely come in handy when looking for a job. You can also combine CS with another degree, like business. Options are available to co-op and also to study software engineering. Admission is quite competitive.

Costs can vary depending on the degree track a student chooses. But annual costs will go over $10,000 in 2017.

University of Waterloo

The University of Waterloo (UoW) is known as one of the best research universities in the world. The university’s computer science department is no exception. According to QS World University Rankings 2016, the University of Waterloo is the 26th in the world in Computer Science.

You can study computer science at Waterloo as a regular student or co-op student. Students have the option to tailor their degrees. A Waterloo CS major can expect to pay about $12,500 per year. However, additional costs may arise.

Computer Science Degrees and Student Debt

Compared to its southern neighbor, Canada has incredibly low student debt levels, see here: However, it doesn’t mean Canadian students do not go into debt. According to national data, about 400,000 Canadian students sink deeper into debt each year.

Most of this debt is accrued by paying non-tuition fees, especially using credit cards, see here: VICE media once interviewed a Canadian computer science major who maxed out a $1,800 Visa card buying things like tickets and drinks. The amount owed was paid through the grant and scholarship the student received, calculated to be about $2,250 per semester.

Some universities, like the University of British Columbia, offer financial assistance to students to help manage their student loan, grant, or scholarship money better so they don’t end up sinking into debt: