Digital technologies are transforming society and driving revolutionary changes in the world of work. In response, the Dakota Digital Academy (DDA) was founded by the North Dakota University System in the fall of 2020 to provide online education in computing and the cyber sciences. DDA serves students at higher education institutions across the state—as well as residents in the workforce seeking to upskill or change careers— by imparting relevant digital skills. To date, we have focused primarily on courses and certificate programs in cybersecurity and software development. 

DDA works cooperatively with the state’s 11 public colleges and universities, which include two research universities, four regional universities and five colleges. Also affiliated are North Dakota’s five tribal colleges. Talented faculty across the state system work together to design and deliver location-agnostic workshops, full courses, short skill-specific courses and certificate programs. Some activities are oriented toward improving the skills of technical people already in the workforce. Others focus on continuing education and credentialing for K-12 teachers.

Also included in DDA’s instruction are soft skills related to the liberal arts, such as teamwork, creative and critical thinking, problem-solving, ethics and communication, along with considerations of technology’s social implications.

Over the last two and half years, DDA successfully launched Dakota Digital Review, Dakota Digital Discussions and the Workforce Advisory Council, which is comprised of business, industry and government leaders who support DDA’s workforce readiness and cyber-educational mission.

Going forward, DDA is pursuing several highly relevant initiatives. One focuses on digital literacy in general education across the university system. Gen Ed refers to suites of required courses imparting knowledge and skills fundamental to all major fields of study and to success after graduation. Increasingly today, literacy in computing and cyber sciences constitute essential components of every student’s formation.

A second initiative concerns advancing education in artificial intelligence and machine learning—including content creation systems such as ChatGPT, which are revolutionizing and disrupting nearly every industry, and augmenting or supplanting functionalities that involve reasoning, perception and creativity, which have been strictly human domains throughout history.

Dakota Digital Discussions Webinar Series

Digital Discussions is a monthly webinar series presented in the fall and spring semesters by Dakota Digital Academy and Dakota Digital Review. The webinars focus on the digital transformation of our economy, military and society, as well as digitization’s profound ethical, legal, cultural, educational and policy implications, including impacts on the arts and humanities and the human psyche. Most Dakota Digital Discussions engage for an hour and are scheduled at noon Central.

Please access upcoming and archived webinars at:

Kendal E. Nygard, PhD, is the Director of the Dakota Digital Academy and Emeritus Professor of Computer Science at NDSU where he joined the faculty in 1977 and served as department chair for 12 years. His many accomplishments include operations research at the Naval Postgraduate School, a research fellowship at the Air Vehicle Directorate of the Air Force Research Lab. In 2013-14, he had the distinctive honor of serving as a Jefferson Science Fellow at the US Agency for International Development in Washington, DC.