Northstar for LibrariesNorthstar for Libraries
Digital literacy has been a part of library service since the first public computers were installed nearly 40 years ago. Public health concerns limited access to both library computers and face-to-face interaction with patrons in 2020. In the meantime, patrons were pushed into situations requiring new levels of digital literacy: working from home, applying for new jobs or new benefits, and supporting online learning for family members.
Libraries are and have been engaged in the work of digital literacy, whether they have formally recognized that work or not. For many library staff, this work may feel like something “extra” that they have to do, especially if they don’t feel supported in that work. For library administrators, it is often difficult to find the resources to support their staff the way they would like. Northstar can and will be that support.
How is Northstar different from LinkedIn Learning?
When does my library have to "go live" with Northstar?
Your library can go live whenever it works best for you. Please take your time to get as comfortable as everyone needs before rolling it out. We will be checking in with libraries in January to see how you are doing, where you are, and what you need to get to where you want to be.
What does it mean to "go live" with Northstar?
That is up to your library and your community. We believe strongly that Northstar can be an effective resource on many levels, and we think that it will save you and your colleagues time and effort with the digital literacy work you are already doing. Here are some ways that you might implement Northstar at your library:
- Your library may choose to promote Northstar for your patrons to do self-assessment and self-directed learning via your website.
- Your library may choose to use Northstar to guide your interactions with patrons.
- You can start with the digital literacy Screener, available to staff among Other Resources in the Northstar staff interface.
- You can use the Northstar Curriculum to guide your interactions with patrons in one-on-one or group settings.
- Your library can offer Proctoring Services or partner with local community groups to provide proctoring services to your patrons, resulting in digital literacy certification that they can use for job searches and personal satisfaction.
What are other libraries doing?
We won't be able to list everyone's implementation ideas, but here are a few from early adopters to start:
- Cuyahoga County Public Library - Certification for Computer Class Attendees
- Heights Libraries - Assessments for Anyone and Proctoring by Appointment
Which URL should we use when we go live?
Whenever you are ready to go live, please link to the URL that starts with https://www.digitalliteracyassessment.org/launch-from and includes your location PIN; that will get Learners to the right spot to begin.
When can library staff get Northstar accounts?
Your local Site Administrator will be able to answer your questions about how & when your library will begin setting up staff accounts
What functions do Learners have in Northstar?
Learners can take assessments and save their scores. Learners can also access the practice lessons for questions that they missed on the assessments.
Do we have to add tags to Learner accounts?
No, whether or not to add tags and which tags to add are entirely up to your library.
Can Learners see tagging on their account?
No, tagging is only for the benefit of library staff, and it is only visible to staff.
Can Learner reports be sorted?
Yes, reports can be filtered by tags or date range, and the reports can be downloaded as a spreadsheet for further analysis.
Do Learners need an email address to set up an account?
Yes. That is the way the Northstar uniquely identifies each Learner. Each Learner must have a unique email address. That may be challenging for folks who are not yet firm in their digital literacy skills. One way to deal with that is to follow your local processes for setting up patrons with personal email accounts. Another way may be to set up an alias email and route it to your library, until the patron feels comfortable setting up their own email.
For example, Gmail has a built-in alias function. Multiple accounts can funnel to a single email address by using the + symbol and descriptive text afterward. Using that feature, one account (i.e. email@example.com) can become many email addresses (i.e. somelibrary+JohnDoe@gmail.com, somebody+JaneDoe@gmail.com, etc.). As far as Northstar is concerned, these are each unique email addresses, and Learners can update their email address when they are comfortable doing so.
Does my library have to proctor Northstar for our patrons?
You certainly don't have to proctor Northstar assessments, and there may be many reasons you choose not to do so. But one of our goals with this grant is to have at least one library in each county that is willing to offer proctoring services. It may be that you choose to offer proctoring for one or two hours per week by appointment, and even that can be a great service for your community.
How can I review the Northstar proctor training?
When you have been designated as a proctor, you will be prompted to complete a proctor training session in the Northstar system. Once you have completed that training, the prompt will not return, but you can go back to review the training again at https://assets.digitalliteracyassessment.org/proctor-training/story.html.
Why can't I see my proctor PIN?
Until your library edits your Location Info to indicate that you are offering proctored assessments and certificates to your users, you will only be able to see your Proctor PIN on your Personal Profile page.
How can my library proctor remotely?
Can my library deputize volunteer proctors?
Yes, your library can set up volunteers as proctors, especially if your staff do not have capacity to take that on. You may find volunteer interest among a variety of civic groups. You can add the proctor volunteers in the Admin portal, and they will receive an email invitation to undertake the training. Once they complete the training, they will have a Proctor PIN, and you can coordinate a proctor schedule with them.
Can Learners get Northstar certificates without proctoring?
No; the proctoring process ensures that the assessment was completed according to Northstar standards for certification.
Can a Learner be checked in without a photo ID?
No; Northstar protocol requires a photo ID, but if you have specific concerns about a Learner without a photo ID, please create a Support Ticket with Northstar to discuss the situation.
Are the Northstar certificates recognized?
The Northstar certificates are not an industry credential, but they are becoming more widely recognized as documentation of digital literacy skill.
How frequently are assessments updated?
The assessments are reviewed annually for needed updates, and they are also reviewed after the release of major software updates.
Why does Northstar not recommend using the assessments for pre-employment screening?
There are several reasons why Northstar does not recommend using the assessment to screen job applicants.
First and foremost, the Northstar philosophy is one of empowerment - they do not want Northstar to be used to 'screen people out' of employment, but to help individuals identify skills that might need improvement, so they can take appropriate action.
Secondly, Northstar was not developed as an employment screening tool, so they cannot vouch that it meets legal requirements as such. There are a number of requirements regarding assessments and test validity from the US Department of Labor and the EEOC that should be considered before using any tool for pre-employment screening.
How can I help Learners after they take an assessment?
Several of the assessment topics have NSOL practice modules. These are the assessment topics that have built-in lessons (or will soon):
- Basic Computer Skills
- MS Word
- (MS Excel is coming soon)
- Career Search Skills
Some of the assessments do not have a corresponding practice module yet, and there is no answer key.
Never fear! The Learners will receive a report after taking the assessment. That report will refer to the Northstar standards they need to address. Those standards are addressed in the curriculum, which you can use in a class setting or in a one-on-one consultation with the Learner. You can also use the curriculum to suggest resources for self-guided learning.
How many administrators can my library have for Northstar?
Each library can have up to three administrators. We recommend that you consider having at least two, so that there is a backup in place at your library. If you want to have three administrators, please re-assign the OPLIN account for your library to have Admin Portal Access only.
Where can I see the recordings of the previous training sessions?
Can I learn about Northstar in less than an hour?
Yes! The recorded trainings are a great resource, but sometimes there are just not enough hours in the day. Here is a way to get ready in less time:
If you have 15 minutes:
If you have 30 minutes, all of the above plus:
If you have 45 minutes, all of the above plus:
And if you need an Admin refresher:
What other resources are available to my library for Northstar?
Please remember that there is a lot of support available to you in the Resources tab of the Admin Portal of Northstar. Additionally, we have prepared some resources specific to our grant that you may find useful, including flyers, bookmarks, sample press releases, and digital assets. Those are located with OPLIN's other Marketing & Training Materials at https://www.oplin.ohio.gov/databases/northstar.