Academic journal article Phi Delta Kappan

Standards for Technological Literacy

Academic journal article Phi Delta Kappan

Standards for Technological Literacy

Article excerpt

Our world will be very different 10 or 20 years from now, Mr. Dugger points out. We have a choice as to whether we march into that world with our eyes open, deciding for ourselves how we want it to be, or whether we let it push us along, as we remain ignorant and helpless to understand where we're going or why. Technological literacy will enable us to make a conscious choice.

WE LIVE in a world that is increasingly dependent on technology. Technology has been a growing human art since the first chipped-edge flint tool was created by our ancestors about 1.5 million years ago in what is now Kenya. Today, technology exists to a degree unprecedented in history. Furthermore, our technology is evolving at an extraordinary rate, with new technologies being created and existing technologies being improved and extended.

Surprisingly, there is much confusion in today's society about what technology actually is. Is technology computers? Is it multimedia? Is it calculators? Is it the result of rewiring school buildings to make them Internet accessible? The correct answer to each of these questions is "Yes - and much, much more." Broadly speaking, technology is the way people modify (invent, innovate, change, alter, design) their natural environment to suit their own purposes. From the Greek word techne[macron], meaning art or craft, technology literally means the art of making or crafting, but more generally it refers to the diverse collection of knowledge and processes that people use to extend human abilities and to satisfy human wants and needs. From improved communications to new biotechnologies to new wireless networks to new advances in engineering, technology is a key factor in the constant human quest to live longer, more productive lives.

It is particularly important in this technological world that people understand and are comfortable with the concepts and workings of modern technology. From a personal standpoint, people benefit both at work and at home by being able to choose the best products for their purposes, to operate the products properly, and to troubleshoot them when something goes wrong. From a societal standpoint, an informed citizenry improves the chances that decisions about the use of technology will be made rationally and responsibly.

For these reasons and others, a growing number of voices worldwide have called for the study of technology to be included as a core subject in elementary, middle, and secondary schools. Among the experts who have addressed this issue, the value and importance of teaching about technology is widely accepted.

Even with the importance of technology in our lives today, the fact is that the study of technology (technology education) remains a mystery to many teachers and administrators. As a field of study that has evolved over the past 15 to 20 years, technology education is just beginning to establish a new identity that is recognized and understood by people outside the field. There is still widespread misunderstanding about the differences between technology education and educational technology, a field that uses technology as a tool to enhance the teaching and learning process.

The ultimate goal of a school program that involves the study of technology is to provide technological literacy to all students. Technological literacy is the ability of a person to use, manage, assess, and understand technology. A person who is technologically literate understands, in increasingly sophisticated ways that evolve over time, what technology is, how it is created, and how it shapes and is shaped by society. Such a person will be able to hear a story about technology on television or read it in the newspaper and evaluate the information in the story intelligently, put that information in context, and form an opinion. A technologically literate person will be comfortable with and objective about technology, neither scared of it nor infatuated by it. …

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