Technologically Literate Citizens - Why The Study of Technology Should Be Mandatory
The term “technological literacy” refers to one's ability to use, manage, evaluate, and understand technology (ITEA, 2000/2002). In order to be a technologically literate citizen, a person should understand what technology is, how it works, how it shapes society and in turn how society shapes it. Moreover, a technologically literate person has some abilities to “do” technology that enables them to use their inventiveness to design and build things and to solve practical problems that are technological in nature. A characteristic of a technologically literate person is that they are comfortable with and objective about the use of technology, neither scared of it nor infatuated with it. Technological literacy is much more than just knowledge about computers and their application. It involves a vision where every person has a degree of knowledge about the nature, behavior, power and consequences of many aspects of technology from a real world perspective.
So who should be technologically literate today and in the future? Because we live in a world that is influenced by and controlled with technology, everyone should have a level of technological literacy. How can one become technologically literate? The best way is to have every student in Grades K—12 in schools today to undertake a study of technology by taking technology education and other subjects that teach about technology. The in-depth content for what every student should know and be able to do is documented in the International Technology Education Association's (ITEA) Standards for Technological Literacy (STL). A belief presented in STL is that all citizens in the future can and should become technologically literate.
ITEA's mission is to promote technological literacy as an essential and basic part of education that everyone needs. ITEA created as part of its effort the Technology for All American's Project (TfAAP), which was funded in the United States by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) from 1994 to 2005. Some significant publications that TfAAP produced during its existence were Standards for Technological Literacy: Content Standards for Technological Literacy (STL) which contained 20 standards that documented what every student should know and be able to do in order to be technologically literate, and Advancing Excellence in Technological Literacy: Student Assessment, Professional Development, and Program Standards (AETL), which served as companion standards to STL. Other support documents that were produced by TfAAP include four addenda (that address improving student assessment, developing standards-based educational programs and curriculum, and developing teachers as professionals in the study of technology), which provide more detailed directions on how to best use STL and AETL. Finally, TfAAP produced significant publication titled Technology for All Americans; A Rationale and Structure for the Study of Technology in 1996 and did a comprehensive rewrite of this document in 2005.
The power and promise of technology can be further enhanced if all people are technologically literate in the future. Anything short of this may jeopardize our ability to be competitive in the world marketplace and to solve human and other problems through the wise use of technology.
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