Academic journal article Education

The Effect of an Educational Program on Technological Literacy-The Example of a Design College in Taiwan

Academic journal article Education

The Effect of an Educational Program on Technological Literacy-The Example of a Design College in Taiwan

Article excerpt

Introduction

Advances in technology have improved human life in the areas of food processing and consumption, the promotion and marketing of products, health care, recreation, public transportation and the development of both knowledge and spirit. This fact suggests that technologies are connected closely to human life. An individual should be sensitive to science and technology in a way that is based on experience and knowledge (Stocklmayer & Gilbert, 2002). Consequently, high-tech professionals need to be responsible for promoting technological literacy since it essentially includes the ability to explore new technology, which includes finding and analyzing information and in solving problems in daily life. Moreover, people in the modern world who are technologically literate are better in dealing with the use, consumption, production, selection and other decisions regarding technological matters (Maley, 1983). As the International Technology Education Association (ITEA) (1996) briefly states, technological literacy is the ability to use, manage and understand technology.

The report, Education of Americans in the 21st century, published by the National Science Foundation in 1983, declared that scientific and technological associations or institutes have difficulty in recruiting enough qualified staff. It also stated that economic growth would be slow if citizens seriously lack perceptions about, and techniques for exploiting, science and contemporary technology. The report claimed, therefore, that citizens require the ability to understand and evaluate technology, to be able to make the best possible decisions about technology. According to the perspective that gaining technological literacy depends strongly on participation in various social activities and formulating and implementing policies, education in the area of technological literacy definitely does not involve only imparting techniques to students or other vocational education, but a set of knowledge and abilities, which cover considerations on morality, politics, and ethics. Chareonwongsak (2002) believes that globalization, digitization and bio-technologization are integrated in this new millennium. He suggests that technological education is therefore significantly important.

However, formal education doesn't seem to recognize the full importance of technological literacy. In Taiwan, there is a dearth in normal colleges that provide a course on technological education for credit, nor are there established departments related to this field. The area is still weak at the elementary level. Passing the college entrance exams remains as one of the main goals at the high school level. Consequently, skills in applying technology and art in daily life and other technical courses have been excluded from the college entrance exams. They are regarded as by-courses and have often been neglected. This situation raises difficulties for education in technological literacy. Apart from normal schools, teacher-training courses at other colleges and universities rarely cover this subject (Lee, 2001). This area is also missing from the curriculum of adult education (Chang, 1999). The shortage of qualified teachers in this field has affected students' learning and the overall technological capacity of Taiwanese citizens will definitely decline if students are not given the opportunity to cultivate technological literacy while they are a part of the educational system.

Review of Related Literature

A recent study by Chu (2002) clearly reveals that university students lack technological proficiency. Having analyzed the opinions of scholars, people in industrial circles, and students regarding performance in learning technological literacy, the results show that all three groups were pessimistic about university students' ability to learn and apply technological literacy. They claimed that students were only at the level of using applications and were unable to perform analysis and organizational skills. …

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