Main | July 2005 »

June 30, 2005

Minnesota Technology Standards

Currently, the state of Minnesota does not have separate K-12 standards for technology literacy. The Department of Education's standards are in the following areas: arts, language arts, mathematics, science, and social studies. Within each of these areas, technology literacy may be included; however there are no spearate technology standards or an explicit technology literacy initiative for K-12.

The standards themselves can be linked to directly here.

An example of how technology literacy is directly connected to the individual standards can be found under the Grade 1 Writing Standard in Language Arts: Handwriting and Word Processing. However, this standard simply states that "The student will improve his/her handwriting." Notice that although the Sub-Strand includes word processing, the standard itself does not mention technology. "Begin acquiring keyboarding skills" is not included in the benchmarks until Grade 3.

Posted by chri1010 at 10:55 AM

June 29, 2005

Computer Literacy Self-Assessment

The University of Minnesota Duluth online student handbook offers students an opportunity to assess their computer literacy skills. Students can rate their own abilities in the following areas: ability to operate a computer; ability to use e-mail and internet to communicate and locate information; word processing ability; create a worksheet using a spreadsheet; creating and manipulating a database; creating and manipulating graphic files;applying general technology knowledge and skills. These assessment items were adapted from MnSCU/U of M Distance Learning Initiative. The webpage says that it has not been updated since 2002; as a result, some items (such as "format diskettes") are somewhat outdated.

Posted by chri1010 at 3:29 PM

Tech Talk

Tech Talk is a 30 minute television program hosted by Susan McKinnell. Produced by the University of Minnesota, the show airs Sundays at 9:00 pm on Twin Cities Public Television channel 17.

Tech Talk is designed to introduce viewers to a wide range of technologies and technology issues. Program topics covered have included using a digital camera, computer viruses, identity theft, etc. A complete listing of the program schedule can be found here.

Previous episodes are available, both as streaming video and as transcripts. Tech Talk also has a lengthy glossary of tech terms. An additional Tech Talk resource is that readers/viewers can submit questions, and the answers are then posted on the Tech Talk site. A complete listing of questions thus far is available here.

Posted by chri1010 at 2:58 PM

Wisconsin's Model Academic Standards for Information and Technology Literacy

Our neighbors to the east have developed a set of standards for K-12. Link to the PDF of the full report, including the standards, here.

Posted by chri1010 at 2:05 PM

4-H and Technology

The 4-H youth programs sponsored by the University of Minnesota Extension Service have several initiatives related to information technology. The full description of 4-H's technology programs can be found on their website. Currently, their website has information from a few years back. When I get an update on their programs, I'll post it here.

Posted by chri1010 at 1:41 PM

UThink: Blogs at the University Libraries

An important technology initiative at the University of Minnesota is UThink, the blog portal for all students, faculty, and staff at the university. Developed by Shane Nackerud, UThink currently boasts 1383 blogs! UThink has 2382 blog authors, which include 180 Faculty and/or P/A; 146 staff, 406 undergraduates, and 382 graduate students. Get up-to-the-minute blog stats here.

Blogs at the University of Minnesota are used in a number of ways: classroom blogs, research (both individual and team), and personal narratives, among other uses. For updates on blogs at the University of Minnesota, please see UThink's homepage.

Posted by chri1010 at 9:28 AM

June 24, 2005

University of Minnesota Extension Service Technology Competencies

As of June 2004, the University of Minnesota Extension Service has developed a set of technology competencies to be used for employee self-assessment and professional development purposes. These competencies reflect the Extension Information and Learning Technology Unit's Training Philosophy, which supports shared training responsiblity, emphasis on transferable skills, "self learning," application of technology to improve the quality of Extension programming, and training county technology contacts.

Extension competencies are divided into two areas: technology competencies for all employees and additional competencies for those who design trainings. The basic technology competencies for all staff include the following:


1. General computing knowlege (including network logon, sharing files, managing passwords, using a data projector, etc)

2. Windows operating system (install/remove software, burn a CD, create folders, etc)

3. Microsoft Word (including format text, create/format tables, insert graphics, find and replace, etc)

4. Microsoft Powerpoint (create, edit, and deliver a Powerpoint)

5. Microsoft Excel (understand the purpose of spreadsheets and be able to create and work with them)

6. E-mail (Send/receive email and manage email account)

7. Use of Internet (Use an internet browser, find Extension information and order publications, etc)

8. Graphics (Edit photos, know differences in graphic formats and use them appropriately)

9. Calendar (view calendars and schedule meetings)

10. County websites (manage content: publications, calendars, and other files)

11. Workshops database (add/manage workshop registrations, edit information, run reports)

12. Accomplishments and results (create and run reports)

13. 4-H Plus! and Fair Plus! Software

14. Media for Educational Programming--Extension Educators, Directors, Area Program Leaders, Capacity Area Leaders, and Campus Faculty (understand one's own role as a subject expert and also the role of the technology/media expert; know how to select appropriate media; understand the cost/benefit of educational technology; evaluation educational products)

Posted by chri1010 at 11:26 AM

Undergraduate Virtual Library

In an effort to help undergraduates better manage information, the University of Minnesota Libraries have developed the Undergraduate Virtual Library, currently in beta. This task-based library interface offers a Search function that searches across multiple library databases, much like a Google search. Other features of note include the full-text finder, which locates a full-text journal article with citation information; the assignment calculator; and the research quickstart, which helps locate appropriate databases for a wide range of content areas.

Posted by chri1010 at 10:59 AM

My AHC Portal

Similar to the My U Portal, the Academic Health Center offers a My AHC Portal. The My AHC Portal is similar to My U; the significant difference is that the front page news on My AHC is more oriented toward health care.

My AHC Portal is only available to students, faculty, and staff affiliated with the Academic Health Center; however, the link to the Portal can be found on the Academic Health Center's main page.

Posted by chri1010 at 10:42 AM

Pew report on the Internet and American Life

This report on internet usage by US Americans suggests that while, "for the most part, the online world mirrors the offline world (p. 58), the internet has also created a space for people to do things previously unimagined: sharing information via blogs; music sharing; rating people, services and products (p. 58). In addition to documenting current usage levels, the Pew report also considers the future, with implications for technology and information literacy:

"In the future, wireless connectivity will increase through laptops, cell phones, and personal digital devices such as Palm Pilots and Blackberries. Phones themselves will increasingly become powerful computing and gaming devices. More things will become connected to the itnernet, from cars to home appliances to jewelry. And more meaning will be extracted from the information online as search engines get better and as connections between related bits of data grow" (p. 69).

The full report from Pew is available as a PDF here.

Posted by chri1010 at 10:23 AM

School Technology Leadership Initiative

The School Technology Leadership Initiative is true to its name--this program is designed to build technology leadership capacity for educational professionals, both K-12 and in higher education.

Co-directed by Dr. Scott McLeod and Dr. Joan Hughes, the STLI offers a certificate program based on the National Educational Technology Standards for Administrators.

STLI also supports a blog that serves as a technology resource for K-12 educators. The blog is an excellent source of current technology issues of relevance to the K-12 setting, although much of this information is applicable to other educational contexts.

Posted by chri1010 at 9:37 AM

June 23, 2005

20 Technology Skills Every Educator Should Have

T.H.E. Journal has recently published a list of the 20 Technology Skills Every Educator Should Have. With each technology skill, Laura Turner offers links to online tutorials. Turner points out that technology is always changing, and that part of an educator's strive for excellence should include time to develop and maintain one's technological competency.

Posted by chri1010 at 8:51 AM

June 22, 2005

Next Generation of the Professorate Program

This technology literacy initiative is designed for new faculty to develop their technology literacy in order to develop TEL competencies. The key feature of this program is that new faculty are paired with more experienced faculty, who serve as mentors. More information on this program is available here.

Posted by chri1010 at 12:19 PM

TA Web Certification Program

The University of Minnesota-Twin Cities has a TA web certification program. According to the program's website, the program is "an introductory course that offers 30 hours of TEL strategies and Web design instruction to all teaching assistants who are involved in some aspect of planning, designing, constructing, maintaining, or evaluating the effective use of a course Web site, either prior to or upon completion of this training, during the academic school year. "

Posted by chri1010 at 12:15 PM

June 21, 2005

Speaking the Lower Frequencies: Students and Media Literacy

University of Minnesota professor Walter R. Jacobs has recently published a qualitative study of students and media literacy: Speaking the Lower Frequencies: Students and Media Literacy. Available from State University of New York Press, Jacobs' book ultimately addresses issues of teaching, race, class, and the position of the teacher as he describes how students in his class explore and critique pop culture texts.

Posted by chri1010 at 4:18 PM

Course Description: Information Literacy

Here's a description of a course offered at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities campus, designed to promote information literacy. Be sure to check out the Course Schedule at OneStop to find out when it is offered.

ABus 4031—Accessing and Using Information Effectively
Information resources available to businesses and how to use these resources. The course begins with conceptualization of the role of information in business operations including information systems and data management. A typology of information is represented and applied in short case studies and exercises including data-based, text-based, verbal, written, and multimedia forms of information. Accessing external information for the firm is reviewed through experiences with library resources such as information search services, CD-ROM, and periodicals. Accessing internal information for the firm is reviewed through experiences with a desktop database system and electronic mail or computer conferencing.

Posted by chri1010 at 3:09 PM

June 17, 2005

Technology Literacy for the Nation and for its Citizens

This white paper from 1995 by Thomas and Knezek articulates a strong concern about the gap between the number of citizens who are technologically competent and the growing need for technological competency in the global economy.

This white paper defines technology literacy as involving the following:

*demystifying technology through conceptual understandings of the underlying science and mathematics principles,

*operational competence with modern technology systems,

*the ability to evaluate and use a variety of common technology applications,

*the ability to innovate and invent ways of applying technology in challenging new situations,

*an awareness of technology-related careers and of factors critical to
success in those careers, and

*understanding of and sensitivity to societal issues related to technology.

Thomas and Knezek observe that in order to have a technologically literate citizenry, there must be an infrastructure to support the development of technological competency. They conclude with the following action items:

Action #1: Revise school curricula and develop standards to address the science and mathematics of technology.

Action #2: Establish technology literacy as a priority for adult education and worker retraining.

Action #3: Formulate policies that place technology literacy for all Americans on the national agenda

Finally, Thomas and Knezek assert that developing technological literacy requires effort on multiple levels:

"The task of achieving a technology-literate nation will depend on the combined efforts of the education, business, and policy-making communities."

Posted by chri1010 at 9:49 AM

June 15, 2005

ETS's Information and Communications Technology Test

Educational Testing Services has been developing an Information and Communications Technology Literacy Assessment, or the ICT Literacy Assessment.

An interesting feature of the assessment is that it uses school and workplace scenarios as the context for assessments. Students are given a scenario in which they must create a graph for a presentation, for example. In another case, students must conduct a boolean search, and the assessment judges the student based on their use of search terms, as well as their ability to respond to the computer's suggestions on how to improve the search.

More information on the assessment too, including an interactive demo, can be found on the ETS website.

In addition, National Public Radio recently did a short feature on the ICT assessment. That story can be downloaded here.

Posted by chri1010 at 11:18 AM