Most technology educators have at one time or another been frustrated by the confusion created by such terms as educational technology, computer technology, or instructional technology. In Pennsylvania the proposed Academic Standards for Science and Technology include computer literacy. The computer literacy standards were added in response to outcries from the community. Business leaders, parents, and others want students to know something about computers. Consensus concerning exactly What students should know about computers is not so clear.
Change and the resulting confusion create opportunities. Technology educators have a marvelous opening to lead schools toward a goal many hold -- computer literacy. A great need exists to help school people understand exactly what it is that students should know and be able to do with a computer. Taking advantage of this opportunity will require solid research; hopefully, this paper will help start that process. While helping schools navigate toward computer literacy, technology educators can expand the discussion and explain the need for technological literacy. The goal is not to stake out computer literacy as exclusively a component of technology education. If technology educators attempt to claim all of computer literacy, we will not have the time or resources to deliver other important aspects of our content. Moreover, it is essential that students experience computer literacy in a wide range of school subjects. As leaders, we should share the responsibility for creating computer literacy with our peers in other disciplines.
For educators of every discipline, the information revolution creates at least two important questions: What kinds of information technology-related experiences should all curriculums share? And, which information technology-related experiences should students encounter in my classroom?
What Are the Important Components of Computer Literacy?
The National Educational Technology Standards for Students (NETS) is a project of the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) supported by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the U.S. Department of Education, the Milken Exchange on Education Technology, and Apple Computer, Inc. The objective is to define what computer literacy skills every student should obtain. These goals are listed in Table 1.
Table 1. NETS Goals: Who delivers?
NETS Goal(*) NETS Sub-goal(*) Discipline and Activity
1. Basic computer Students demonstrate Technology education:
technology a sound understanding basic experiences in
operations and of the nature and computer systems,
concepts operation of computer computer networking,
technology systems. and computer control
Students are Business or computer
proficient in the use applications: basic
of computer skills in word
technology. processing, database
2. Social, ethical, Students understand Technology education:
and human issues the ethical, impacts of technology
related to computer cultural, and
technology societal issues
related to computer
Students practice All disciplines
responsible use of
Students develop All disciplines:
positive attitudes teaching inquiry
toward computer (information literacy)
technology uses that
support lifelong See also NETS goals
learning, 3 - 6