A Curricular and Instructional Challenge: Teaching and Learning for Technological Literacy/Capability

By Levande, James S. | Journal of Technology Studies, Winter-Fall 2003 | Go to article overview

A Curricular and Instructional Challenge: Teaching and Learning for Technological Literacy/Capability


Levande, James S., Journal of Technology Studies


The role of technology education in the development of technological literacy and capability maintains a constant presence in, and at certain times and places, a point of debate within the field. This debate permeates all levels of the profession-from teachers selecting laboratory/classroom curricula and instructional strategies to institutions of higher education determining how to prepare technicians, technologists, and educators for K-12 and university programs to researchers seeking to establish sound theory and practice for the field. In these situations, as well as many others, views and perceptions are advanced to make a case for a particular focus on what constitutes literacy and capability. Usually this advocacy centers on meeting the needs of the immediate mission-teaching students at the K-12 level; or preparing teachers, technicians, or technologists; or developing the skills and abilities of postgraduate students to serve the diverse demands of research and continued development of the field. How is it then that an agreement can be reached about the similarities and differences between literate and capable when confronted with the scope of teaching and learning about technology across the places and times that students are engaged with technological studies?

The approach to consensus and agreement requires an understanding of the nature of technological literacy and capability, the establishment of a framework that will be inclusive of the many views and perceptions that are held within the many segments and focus areas of the field, and an application of the framework to meet the challenges of developing literacy and capability.

In understanding the continuing theme of developing technological literacy one only needs to go to the continuing discussion and development of the concept within the field of technology education. The fundamental point, that a person must know about technology and be able to do things technologically, is a continuing theme throughout the literature. This literature (Custer & Weins, 1996; Dyrenfurth, 1991; Todd, 1991; Weins, 1988) notes that there are diverse definitions of technological literacy and that these definitions frequently reflect the field or discipline of the definer. However, one key element can be found in this diversity: It is the concept that a person must know about technology and be able to do things technologically.

The literature makes a series of key statements related to the relationships that exist between literacy and capability by:

* Linking literacy and capability. Capability is application, the use of technological knowledge (literacy) to solve practical problems through doing within the full curricular scope of the teaching and learning environment.

* Including curriculum integration by bringing together mathematics, English language arts, science, and social studies with the study and application of technology.

* Providing meaningful, personal realism where the impacts and consequences of technology can be confronted.

* Placing the learner in an active role at the center of achieving literacy and capability for whatever the purpose or mission at hand is.

* Placing achieving literacy and capability on a scale that delineates the increasing complexities demanded by the roles a person takes on in knowing about and using technology-scientist, technology teacher, technician, etc.

Compounding the literacy/capability issue is the specter of technological illiteracy. What are the consequences of not being literate and/or capable?

Here again the literature (Custer & Weins, 1996; Devore, 1991; Dyrenfurth & Kozak, 1991) within the field addresses the consequences of not developing technological literacy. Reasons included are democratic needs, the nature of life in society, dehumanization-humanization, and the nature of jobs-competitiveness-workforce literacy and where the impacts will be if literacy is not achieved. …

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