Academic journal article Phi Delta Kappan

Advancing Excellence in Technological Literacy

Academic journal article Phi Delta Kappan

Advancing Excellence in Technological Literacy

Article excerpt

The Technology for All Americans Project has published two documents that present standards, benchmarks, and guidelines for the reform of technology education. Here, the project staff members summarize the standards and comment on how they support the goal of enabling all students to attain technological literacy.

WE LIVE IN a technological world. Life in the 21st century requires much more from every individual than simply the basic skills of reading, writing, and performing simple mathematics. Today, technology affects virtually every aspect of our lives, from enabling citizens to perform routine tasks to requiring them to be able to make responsible, informed decisions that affect individuals, society, and the environment.

Citizens of today must have a basic understanding of how technology affects their world and how they coexist with technology. Attaining technological literacy is as fundamentally important to students as developing knowledge and abilities in the traditional core subject areas. Students need and deserve the opportunity to attain technological literacy through the educational process.

In 2000 the International Technology Education Association (ITEA), through its Technology for All Americans Project (TfAAP), released Standards for Technological Literacy: Content for the Study of Technology (STL).1 STL provides a significant foundation for the study of technology in terms of content, but STL alone is not sufficient to make the reform of technology education happen in American classrooms.

Advancing Excellence in Technological Literacy: Student Assessment, Professional Development, and Program Standards (AETL) is a vital addition because this document provides the means for implementing STL in K-12 laboratory-classrooms.2 The new publication is based on STL, and each set of standards in AETL requires users to incorporate the content identified in STL into their practices.

Components Affecting Student Learning

The vision behind both STL and AETL calls on teachers, administrators, and policy makers to foster interchange between all the elements of the educational program in all areas of learning. In order to facilitate such interchange, the standards in AETL are overlapping. AETL identifies six components of educational programs that affect student learning:

* content,

* curricula,

* instruction,

* learning environment,

* student assessment, and

* professional development.

Within programs for the study of technology, these six components must be coordinated if students are to successfully acquire technological literacy.3

Content. The 20 standards outlined in STL provide the content basis on which the study of technology may be built. In other words, STL specifies what every student should know and be able to do in order to be technologically literate, and it provides criteria by which to judge progress toward that goal. The standards should be met through articulated experiences that are coordinated by grade-band levels (K-2, 3-5, 6-8, and 9-12). Benchmarks provide the fundamental content elements for these broadly stated standards. The goal is to reach all of the standards through the benchmarks.

Curricula. The standards and benchmarks in STL are not the curriculum. The curriculum is the way the content of the STL standards is delivered. It includes the structure, organization, balance, and presentation of the content, and it provides a plan for the teacher to follow. The curriculum should be derived from the content standards and can be thought of as a blueprint for learning.4 Curricula should enable all students to attain technological literacy and should be designed across grade levels and disciplines.

Instruction. Instruction is the actual process by which the content of the standards is delivered. It should be consistent with research on how students learn technology, should be coordinated with curricula, should enable all students to attain technological literacy, should incorporate educational technology, and should make use of student assessment. …

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