Category "Information Literacy"
August 26, 2005
21st Century Learning and Information Literacy
This article from Change (2005) by Patricia Senn Breivik broadly considers the centrality of information literacy in teaching and learning in higher education. This article asserts the need for information literacy skills to be taught within the classroom context. Additionally, a key assertion of this article is that information literacy is an umbrella term, under which other types of literacy (including “computer literacy”) falls.
The article is available online through the university library.
Category "Digital Literacy"
August 4, 2005
Digital Literacy Checklist
The University of Washington offers a digital literacy checklist designed specifically for PC users.
Laura Larsson, developer of the checklist, defines digital literacy as "the ability to understand and use information in multiple formats from a wide range of sources when it is presented via computers."
The checklist is a self-assessment that covers a range of topics, including keyboarding, mouse, and related skills; desktop competencies; and internet competencies. Under each competency are a number of items, many of which have hyperlinks to explanations, practice tutorials, and other weblink references.
The Digital Literacy Checklist was developed in 1997, and revised in 2000 and 2002, so it is not currently up to date, but it does have several information literacy items.
Category "Technology Literacy"
Category "University of Minnesota"
July 5, 2005
Technology Literacy--Another Definition
Here's a definition of technology literacy, written by Billie Wahlstrom:
"Technological literacy is not a 'skill' in the narrow sense, but a series of 'literacies' that are at the heart of the academic enterprise. Faculty and staff have to know what tools the University has, how to find help and resources, what best practices are, and how using technologies will improve their teaching and their work. In the academic setting technological literacy isn't about button pushing but must include education in intellectual property, academic integrity, security and risk management, copyright and fair use, privacy and piracy, accessibility, identity management, and ethical and legal considerations."
Although this definition does not explicity mention students, it certainly can apply to them.
July 1, 2005
What is Technology Literacy?
In its most basic form, literacy itself can be defined as competency in some area. While literacy has often been defined in terms of print literacy—the ability to read and write—this definition has been expanded as other forms of knowledge have been identified. Literacy itself denotes an essential or necessary quality—something necessary for survival in contemporary society. Similarly, literacy also implies power; those who are literate have access to knowledge and opportunity that those who are not literate do not.
When it comes to technology literacy, then, an obvious first question is “what is technology?” When the International Technology Education Association asked people to name the first thing that came to their mind when they heard the word “technology,” 68% of people surveyed answered “computers” (access the survey here). However, technology is so much more than computers! Depending on who you ask, definitions of technology vary greatly:
The World Bank defines technology as a means of information transfer:
“Mechanisms for distributing messages, including postal systems, radio and television broadcasting companies, telephone, satellite and computer networks.”
The National Institutes of Health focuses on technology as a practical
application: “the application of scientific or other organized knowledge--including any tool, technique, product, process, method, organization or system--to practical tasks. In health care, technology includes drugs; diagnostics, indicators and reagents; devices, equipment and supplies; medical and surgical procedures; support systems; and organizational and managerial systems used in prevention, screening, diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation.”
Wikipedia takes a broad approach to defining technology: “the
development and application of tools, machines, materials and processes that help to solve human problems."
Thus, technology may be a tool or machine, like a computer, or it may be a process, such as a method for making steel. However, a key feature of technology is that its end goal is the improvement of human lives.
Returning to technology literacy, then, one might speculate that definitions may vary according to how one defines technology. What follows here is a range of definitions, based on a cursory internet search of “technology literacy.”
The National Academy of Engineering defines technological literacy as an awareness of and an ability to be conversant in the technologies we use every day (from Technically Speaking: Why All Americans Need to Know More About Technology). More specifically, the NAE suggests that technological literacy includes “an understanding of the nature and history of technology, a basic hands-on capability related to technology, and an ability to think critically about technological development (pp. 11-12). NAE does not directly define technology itself, however.
The International Technology Education Association defines technology literacy as “the ability to use, manage, assess, and understand technology” (2000, p. 9). John Hansen of the Center for Technology Literacy expands this definition of technology literacy to suggest that technology literacy is “An individual's abilities to adopt, adapt, invent, and evaluate technology to positively affect his or her life, community, and environment” (Center for Technology Literacy). Hansen argues that other definitions of technology literacy, such as those of the NAE and the ITEA fail to acknowledge the important role of empowerment in technology literacy. (Perhaps empowerment is a key factor in any definition of literacy itself.)
Hansen further extends his definition with five pillars that define a technologically literate person, worthy of note (and quoted directly) here:
(1) Self-efficacy, in other words, they perceive themselves as capable of learning about technology to achieve specific objectives and extending their influence in the world, even when confronted with unknown and ambiguous situations.
(2) Rational decision-making, in other word, exhibit willingness to: 1) take control of their decisions; 2) invest time and energy in achieving solutions; and
3) take necessary risks to explore divergent options. In short, they would not, nor would they want to, leave these kinds of decisions to others.
(3) Prerequisite knowledge and skills, in other words, have an adequate knowledge and skill base to seek, evaluate, and implement technological solutions. They would be able determine the discrepancy between what they know and what they need to know to achieve appropriate solutions.
(4)Critical application, in other words, rely on their abilities and knowledge to use technology to meet personal and shared goals and to make a positive difference in the world, and
(5) Reflective practice, in other words, they reflect on: 1) how and why they use technology as they do; 2) how they and technology interrelate with their surroundings; and 3) the technological strategies they use to achieve their objectives. (Center for Technology Literacy).
Hansen ultimately concludes that “technology literacy is the extension of human potential and influence through technology, regardless of the specific technology” (Center for Technology Literacy). In exploring technology literacy initiatives, this definition seems like a reasonable place to start.
Category "Academic publications"
Category "Technology Literacy"
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."