What is Artificial Intelligence, Algorithm & Data Literacy?

Algorithms are step-by-step instructions given to a computer that describe how to perform a task. Data literacy is the ability to understand data: how it is collected, where it comes from, and how to use it in different contexts.

Think of a map. If you were to look up directions to get somewhere, your computer might answer you with an algorithm, the shortest path to get there. But the data it uses is provided from various sources. There’s the data you input in your computer, and there’s the data that others have provided to be able to compute several paths for you to choose from.

Being algorithm and data literate means being empowered to better understand how computers work and how algorithms use Artificial Intelligence (AI).

It means understanding that:

  • AI is not magic
  • Algorithms are not always right
  • The data we use to train algorithms matters
  • AI comes with ethical issues like bias

But it also means that working with data is more fun, more creative, and more exciting than it’s ever been.


Watch the video

Talk about it with your friends and teachers with the help of our discussion guide.

Data Literacy Discussion Guide

After you’ve watched the Data Literacy video you might want to think about these questions and discuss them with friends.

Read this AI Primer

AI Primer

The AI Primer is for anyone curious about artificial intelligence. It’s here to help you understand how it works, and how you can use it and even share your knowledge with others.

Read this lite paper on responsible AI

Trustworthy AI Litepaper

What is Trustworthy AI? Mozilla uses the term Trustworthy AI to talk about the kind of AI that are proven to be safe enough for humans to trust.

Organize a workshop with your class

It's easy, it's fun and we have everything we need to get started.

Data Literacy in the AI Era - Educator’s guide

A quick overview of the workshop, the objectives and requirements for educators.

Data Literacy in the AI Era - Workshop (Slides)

This workshop gets students thinking about the place of data in their daily lives and shows them that they can understand it and learn to use it to navigate more easily in this world.

  • Ideal age: 13-17 years
  • Level: beginners, introduction
  • Duration: 90 minutes

Sensing Faces With Scratch Lab - Workshop

Building on the sense of self-efficacy from simple making, we aspire to spark curiosity about how computers recognize patterns in the era of AI and how we can work with intelligent machines to amplify our own creations.

  • Ideal age: 7-17 years
  • Level: beginner
  • Duration: 90 minutes

Want to go further? Try out this course

Step into the world of artificial intelligence

Learn from some of the world’s leading researchers about the role of artificial intelligence (AI) in your daily life today, and where it’s going in the future. (CIFAR)

You deserve to know how algorithms work.

I’m everywhere you look, but you can’t see me. I make decisions for you, but you have more empathy than me. I think it’s time I introduced myself!

But why?

Algorithms are everywhere on the web, but they’re often invisible. Algorithms learn from your behaviour, can limit the options made available to you online, and influence your choices. Through this process, you can end up stuck in a ‘preference bubble’: the algorithm starts to show you only the things it thinks you’ll like, restricting your view of the world.

Our kids are the ones who need to hear about this the most. They are emerging as digital citizens and future decision-makers in a world where they’ll need to learn how to protect their data and use technology responsibly.

About the Project

Digital2030 (an experience by Digital Moment), the Canadian Commission for UNESCO (CCUNESCO) and UNESCO have partnered up to launch the Algorithm Literacy & Data Project to raise awareness and educate kids about the presence of algorithms and how they influence our digital experiences — in other words, get algorithm literate. The goal is to empower kids to exercise critical thinking in how they engage online, and to become proactive, creative users and makers rather than passive consumers.


See the world like an algorithm

Algorithms are step-by-step plans or instructions to perform a task or solve a problem — you can think of them like recipes that coders use to take information and produce things that help us achieve certain results.

The best way to improve your algorithm literacy is to become informed (check ✓), and then continue to educate yourself by reading, listening, reflecting, and discussing (learning is more fun with others!). It’s essential to consider other perspectives, like how algorithms might affect people differently all around the world.

Let’s get started! Here’s a simple step-by-step algorithm to start you on your own journey to #GetAlgoLit

Step 1: Watch

See how algorithms work and how they relate to computational thinking.

Algorithm and Data Literacy Project

In this video we introduce what an algorithm is, what goes on behind the screen, and the idea that personalized search results, video recommendations, targeted ads, and so on are all decisions made by algorithms.

What is computational thinking anyway?

This video describes what computational thinking means. We discuss the four elements that make up the foundation of computational thinking: decomposition, pattern recognition, abstraction and algorithmic thinking. This video is intended for kids from 9 to 12 years old and their educators.

Step 2: Take action

Your brain works differently than an algorithm - the power is in your hands!

Digital2030 Challenge Logo

Looking to the future: Digital2030

Algorithm and data literacy goes beyond taking control of our own online experiences: we can use this knowledge to help meet the UN Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. Digital2030, an experience by Digital Moment, has launched The Challenge, a decade-long series of challenges for youth to use coding, digital literacy, and artificial intelligence to tackle the world’s most pressing problems.

Start this year’s Digital2030 Challenge

Step 3: Read

Dive deeper into the world of algorithms and code.

What do these words mean?

Preference bubble

Noun: “a unique universe of information for each of us … which fundamentally alters the way we encounter ideas and information.” (internet activist, Eli Pariser).

Algorithms collect data based on what you seem to like and try to predict similar content you’ll want to see next. This preference bubble creates a narrow view of things it thinks you will like - potentially hiding difficult information and different opinions from you.

Digital citizen

Noun: Someone “who uses the Internet regularly and effectively” to participate in society online. (Karen Mossberger et al., MIT Press).

Good digital citizenship is fundamental for responsible participation in the 21st Century world. This can range from how we connect with others online, to political and civic engagement with real-world impact.

Artificial Intelligence

Noun: Computer systems that are “able to perform tasks that normally require human intelligence, such as visual perception, speech recognition, decision-making, and translation between languages.“(Lexico, Oxford Dictionary)

By educating kids about AI and the ethics surrounding it, we can diversify who builds AI systems, and diversify the data used by AI, as well as empower kids to promote the positive use of AI to solve real world problems.

Why does it matter?

You would want to know when you’re not seeing the whole truth, right? Every day we're shown search results, video recommendations, and targeted ads based on the data we give algorithms. This content forms a ‘preference bubble’ around us that can be surprisingly different from the bubbles our closest friends find themselves in.

Algorithms are shaping how we perceive the world, and this in turn shapes the world. The decisions algorithms make for us impact our lives, but we also influence their behaviour with our every click. That’s why it’s more important than ever that we understand how they work.

Are kids too young to learn about this stuff? We don’t think so.

Most kids learn how to use the internet from a young age, which means they’re growing up surrounded by algorithms. In this reality, it's crucial to be algorithm literate: to understand what algorithms are and how they can present a narrow view of the world. Kids should be given the tools to know when they're not getting the whole truth.

Further reading
Thumbnail cover image of the Educational Guide

Educational Guide (15 pages)

Educational Guide
(15 pages)

A quick introduction on algorithms and how to dip your toes into algorithm literacy through simple activities.

Thumbnail of The Canadian Primer to Computational Thinking and Code in PDF format

The Canadian Primer to Computational Thinking and Code — A KCJ Introduction to Algorithm Literacy

This primer is a more in-depth look into computer and “unplugged” algorithms, how they relate to code and computational thinking, and how you can start to explore these concepts and processes with others, even children.

Thumbnail of Learning to Code: a guide for grown ups in PDF format

Learning to code: a guide for grownups

Here’s a guide with lots of handy tips and tricks that focuses on the importance of families learning to code, together.

Thumbnail of Trustworthy AI Litepaper

Trustworthy AI Litepaper

What is Trustworthy AI? Mozilla uses the term Trustworthy AI to talk about the kind of AI that are proven to be safe enough for humans to trust.

Step 4: Reflect

Consider the effect algorithms have on your own life.

Thumbnail cover image of the Video Dicussion Guide

Discussion Guide (2 pages)

Get talking! Take some time to reflect on what you learned in the videos and lead conversations about the videos with kids.

AI card game illustration

The AI Card Game

Play this card game and see the world from the point of view of an AI recognition system! Try to identify objects through a limited set of physical characteristics: colour, shape, texture, and size. The PDF contains instructions and 59 cards, including 20 mystery objects (EN+FR). A fun way to introduce the ideas behind artificial intelligence.

Step 5: Get involved

Help more young people #GetAlgoLit.

Spread the Word

Have your own ideas to #GetAlgoLit? Or simply want the people in your life to know about algorithms? Post about it, use the hashtag, and get your voice heard!

Support the cause

The more our world relies on technology and the digital world, the more kids need to know about algorithms and how they affect their lives. By donating to Digital Moment, you can ensure more kids get access to this essential information.

Founding Partners

Founded in 2013 by Kate Arthur, Digital Moment (formerly Kids Code Jeunesse) is a Canadian-based charity and a global leader in mobilizing communities to build a better future through digital skills education. Digital Moment focuses on creating programs and experiences for youth and their communities on digital skills like coding, algorithm and data literacy, and artificial intelligence. Digital Moment includes three educational initiatives: Kids Code Jeunesse, Digital2030, and a social innovation lab.

Digital2030 Logo

Digital2030 invites youth through a variety of experiences to use digital skills to take action to build a more sustainable future. Aligned with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Digital2030 includes 3 experiences, which introduce learning about digital skills such as coding, digital literacy, and artificial intelligence, for youth around the world. These experiences are: The Challenge, Digital Leaders, and the Algorithm and Data Literacy Project.


Media and Information Literacy is a priority for CCUNESCO due to its close connection to freedom of expression, freedom of information, and fighting disinformation. The Canadian Commission for UNESCO serves as a bridge between Canadians and the vital work of UNESCO—the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. By promoting UNESCO values, priorities and programs in Canada and by bringing the voices of Canadian experts to the international stage, the Commission contributes to a peaceful, equitable and sustainable future that leaves no one behind.


UNESCO is the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. It seeks to build peace through international cooperation in Education, the Sciences and Culture. UNESCO's programmes contribute to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals defined in Agenda 2030, adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2015.


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