Summer Institute 2015 - Digital Environments: Opportunities and challenges for literacy, learning and citizenship


June 11-12, 2015, University of Montreal, Montreal, Quebec



Update: Institute Schedule

Thursday, June 11 : The Institute will run all day before the opening of the World Assembly that evening. 

Friday, June 12 : Registrants can attend the first morning of the World Assembly until noon.

12:00 – 3:00 - The Institute will re-convene with a networking lunch followed by a concluding session

3:15 - 4:45 : After a break, a workshop will be offered to the World Assembly on the key ideas to emerge from the Institute that nourish the large themes on adult education under discussion. A unique opportunity to project the outcomes onto a world platform.
We hope all Institute attendees will participate in the open workshop.

Follow the program of the World Assembly at



Electronic health records, robotic surgeries, home appliances activated online, tax filing and banking online, YouTube tutorials, hacked credit cards, fingerprint passwords— some random real-life examples from today’s digital world.   What does it mean to be literate in this environment? How can we ensure that adults have the skills they need to critically engage in this increasingly complex world and manage their work and personal lives?  What are the social and economic costs if citizens do not have these skills?   Are we assessing and teaching the right skills?  What opportunities do various technologies offer to address the challenges they create? Why should governments, educators, and civic leaders care?  These are among the questions and issues we will explore at the Institute.

Presenters include Namir Anani, Steve Reder, David Rosen, the Digital Promise – Beacon Project.

We continue our collaboration with RESDAC and CDEACF, two strong adult learning organizations in Canada, and we are honoured this year to affiliate with the 9th World Assembly on Adult Education and Lifelong Learning hosted by the International Council of Adult Education (ICAE), the Institut de coopération pour l'éducation des adultes (ICEA) and the Department of Continuing Education at the University of Montreal from June 11 - 14, 2015.

The World Assembly, held once every four years,  brings together youth and adult educators, and learners from around the world to celebrate the importance of adult education to construct just and equitable societies. [See]. The title of the 9th Assembly is Global Commitments, Local Practices: Adult learning and education to create the world we want.

The Institute will begin on Thursday, June 11, one day before the Assembly and run for a further half day on the afternoon of June 12.  Registrants will be able to attend the full World Assembly or any selected sessions during the remaining two days.   We will relate many of our digital literacy sessions and discussions to four of the themes adopted by the Assembly:

Right to education and lifelong learning for all, beyond 2015 – including strategies to secure universal adult literacy, and the role of civil society in delivering and monitoring provision.

Role of adult learning and education for sustainable development – including response to crises at local, regional and global level in the context of a globalizing world marked by rapid changes in the economy, governance, labour market and climate; reflecting the need for a paradigm shift in setting alternative agendas.

Adult learning and education, power relations and community engagement – including reviewing successful educational strategies to secure decent work and gender equality, and ending discrimination at the level of families, communities, workplaces and governance.

Quality inclusive education for all - capacity building and preparation of teachers/ facilitators in adult education for transformation, quality provision; improvement of curricula; and participatory teaching and learning strategies and methods
The Institute will be bilingual, English and French, Assembly Plenary sessions will have translation in English, French and Spanish.

The Institute offers a unique opportunity to share and create knowledge in a collaborative environment with a limited number of participants (100). We build the program around the experience and expertise of those who register.  If you register, you may ask to be a presenter. Participants work together for the one and a half days.

Rooms will be available at the residences of the University of Montreal near the conference site. We will also have a block of rooms at Ruby Foo’s Hotel.  Details available in February.

Online registration will open in January




Namir Anani is President and CEO of Canada’s Information and Communications Technology Council (ICTC), a centre of expertise that: conducts technology, economic, and labour market research; enables innovative talent solutions; and elaborates policies for the digital economy.  ICTC has produced a Digital Literacy Whitepaper and papers on topics such as Women in Information Technology.  They have a network in industry, government and academia.  Namir previously led Policy Development & Research at the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC). He has also held executive leadership roles in both the private and public sectors including the Department of Canadian Heritage (Director General & CEO), CGI consulting, Nortel, and Novartis (Switzerland).  Mr. Anani has experience in strategic policy development and implementation, learning and capacity building, business transformation, national/international strategic alliances, economic and market research, and technology innovation.  Namir has a Bachelor of Science (Honours) in Electrical Engineering from the University of Salford (UK) and holds a Professional Engineer designation in Ontario (P. Eng.).


Ji Eun Chung
As a policy analyst in the Directorate for Education and Skills, OECD,  Ji Eun analyses the Survey of Adult Skills (PIAAC) [link to our PIAAC page] dataset to draw evidence-based policy recommendations on issues such as tackling inequality in acquisition of skills, raising adult competencies in managing information in technology-rich environments, and helping low-skilled adults improve their skills. 


Digital Promise has a mission to improve the opportunity to learn for all Americans through technology and research.  The organization works at the intersection of education leaders, researchers, and learning technology developers to make this happen.  While many of its projects have focused on schools, its Adult Learning Initiative is working to identify innovative technology that could transform adult education, and inspire further research, new investment, and/or wider adoption of these technologies. As part of this initiative, they are studying seven communities across the U.S. (“Beacon” sites) that are committed to expanding adult learning opportunities through the use of digital learning tools, and chronicling what it takes to develop a “digital-ready” adult learning community, while identifying critical challenges and topics for further research or evaluation.

On April 21, 2015, Digital Promise will bring together representatives from the Beacon communities, with experts in the adult education field, researchers, entrepreneurs, funders, and government officials, for a day-long meeting, where they will work on a collective vision for using technology to increase learning opportunities and success for adult learners. They expect to draft action plans and identify the highest priority challenges and opportunities that have emerged.  At the 2015 Summer Institute, Executive Director Jeff Carter will share the vision and progress on action plans, and invite participants to offer feedback and suggestions to align this work with the change agenda for adult learning that will be the focus of the institute and the World Assembly.

Stephen Reder, University Professor of Applied Linguistics at Portland State University, has been involved throughout his career in teaching, research and service activities related to literacy and language issues in education, work and community settings.  His interests focus on lifelong learning and adult literacy and second language development during adulthood.  He was the Principal Investigator of two recently completed major projects in adult education: the National Labsite for Adult ESOL and the Longitudinal Study of Adult Learning (LSAL).  He has recently conducted research on digital literacy acquisition in vulnerable communities and on the long-term social and economic impacts of participation in adult basic education. A series of his publications on program impact has just been published.  He is part of a working group of researchers that is analyzing data from the Program for the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC).  Professor Reder has written many publications about adult literacy and language research and its implications for education and training programs. Steve co-edited (with John Bynner ) a volume entitled Tracking Adult Literacy and Numeracy: Longitudinal Studies in Adult Education, Routledge, and has written a Research Brief for The Centre for Literacy on The Longitudinal Study of Adult Learning: Challenging Assumptions, and an upcoming paper on Low-Skilled Readers in Canada: Analysing PIAAC Reading Components.


Emad Rizkalla
Founder and CEO of Bluedrop Performance Learning, Emad Rizkalla is a recognized pioneer and leader in eLearning, entrepreneurship and corporate leadership. He co-founded his first company in 1992 before finishing his degree in mechanical engineering. His third company, Bluedrop, was spun out in 2004 with a mission to revolutionize workforce training for the organizations and people left behind by the eLearning industry. The company is now globally recognized for its success in empowering Extended Workforce Ecosystems, a concept that Emad will discuss in his presentation. 
Emad has been featured in publications and media for his thoughts on learning and credentials in the workforce.  He has chaired several not-for-profit boards and sits on an advisory Board for the National Research Council.  Emad was honoured as one of Canada’s “Top 40 Under 40″ before he was 30, and was featured in a TIME Magazine cover story as one of eight “Young Dynamic Entrepreneurs Who Will Create the 21st Century.” In 2013, he was awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal.


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