Saturday, September 18, 2004

Technological Literacy. This is a neat essay which looks at the issue of technological literacy. Reading it, I realize how closely related to information literacy this concept is.

From the site:

It's a commonplace today that technology--for good or ill--will play an ever larger role in our lives at home, at work, and in the community. There is also some consensus, in an era of educational reform and standards, on the need for technological literacy and the definition of it. Recently developed standards for technological literacy identify knowledge, skills, and attitudes all students need to use and judge technology intelligently and responsibly. This Digest provides information to K-12 educators about the need and standards for technological literacy and the steps necessary to implement those standards.


What is technology? A definition of technology literacy might well begin with a definition of technology. Technology consists of all the modifications humans have made in the natural environment for their own purposes (Dugger 2001)--inventions, innovations, and changes intended to meet our wants and needs, to live longer, more productive lives. Such a broad definition of technology includes a broad spectrum of artifacts, ranging from the age-old (flint tools, wheels, levers) to the high-tech (computers, multimedia, biotechnologies). In short, if humans thought of it and made it, it's technology.

Two important points need to made about such a broad definition of technology. First, although some writers address only computer and communications technology (e.g., Selfe 1999), technology is usually defined to include far more than instructional or communications technology (Custer 1999). Computers, e-mail, and Web TV are only one part of the array of devices and procedures we encounter in day-to-day life--everything from digitized kitchen appliances to transportation systems and integrated manufacturing. Second, science and technology, although closely related, are different (Sanders 1999). Science generates knowledge for its own sake, proposing and testing explanations. Technology, on the other hand, develops human-made solutions to real-world problems. Of course, science uses technology to generate knowledge and technology uses scientific knowledge to generate solutions, so the two are integrally connected; but they are different fields driven by different concepts and processes (Bybee 2000).

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