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Technology Literacy

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What is Technology Literacy? It mean that the capability to have information, the capacity for selecting, applying correctly, monitoring as well as evaluating suitable knowledge set within perspective. Technology literacy refers to the capability of the person how they interact with work and compete with other people where he becomes responsible, appropriate and efficient to use the device of technology such as accessing, managing, integrating, evaluating, creating as well as communicating information. The essay will show how Technology literacy helps in controlling the adverse effects of psychological suffering such as Self –sadness, anxiety, and destruction. Second, the article will explain how examples of technology literacy relate to the results mentioned earlier. Finally, the essay will show the various models of behavior demonstrated by the technology literate.

Since emotional suffering is the unpleasant emotions that an individual can have which impacts the level of functioning of the body and technology literacy refers to capability that an individual has and where he can work independently hence remaining responsible, appropriately and efficiently in use technology tools in accessing, managing, integrating, evaluating, creating as well as communicating information (Anderson,1964). Therefore it is automatic that technological literacy can help in reducing the adverse effects of psychological which includes: Destruction, self sadness, and anxiety. For instance Destruction, in the case where a person is distracted mentally because of losing their loved once or else something terrible someone might have experienced. Technology literacy makes people share and communicate the bothering issues in diverse ways, and as a result after sharing, many people cheap into the matters and at the end, they come up with the solution to the particular problems.

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Although technological literacy may not be able to address the emotional suffering that an individual has, there is an assurance that the matter will be solved to a certain percentage. Second, concerning self –sadness, where one may be suffering emotionally because of not knowing what will happen next for instance when people loses their job, in this situation the technological literature can be of much help since among its role is to help in developing the skills of critical thinking. In this scenario where one may be experiencing self-sadness, technology literature helps a lot since it helps in coming up with other alternatives ways that can contribute to the happiness other than being in sad moods always (Berbekar & Hephaestus, 1988). Finally, the effects of being in anxiety when suffering emotional, where one asks himself what will happen next after this incidence, technology literature helps to reduce stress by coming up with the new ideas that give individuals new ideas that make one forget what had happened in the past. Technology literature contributes a lot in controlling the adverse effects of emotional feeling since an individual need to share the concerning issues, in the media and the problems are shared widely where different opinion and solution towards the points are communicated.

The current examples of technology literacy include Capacity of accessing technology, this is whereby people can freely apply technology, and in case they have concerning issues they can post it and the best solution it will be given. Considering, the three adverse effects; that is, self sadness, anxiety, and destruction, with the help of this feature, in case an individual has specific issues bothering him, making him always be in sad moments or else be worried of what will happen in the next. Through the use of social media, the issues can be easily solved. Since it is the role of technological literacy, it will always be there to provide the best solution to a specific problem. Second, Being able to understand the technology, the importance of being familiar with the technology it that no question will be asked and hence make technological literacy to be in a dilemma on how to answer instead it’s always there to give solutions to all the arising issues. However, if a person is suffering from mental destruction, being affected by sad moment as well as being in anxiety at most of the time, technology literacy usually works hard on it to ensures that it has come out with the solution for all the problems. Generally, technology literacy plays an important role of ensuring that it has provided all the possible solution for all the cases arising, and in the case where a person has a mental illness it also brings out the possible solution for such situation (Cydis,2015). Finally, being able to manage the technology. Technology literacy ensures that it can handle the technology in a proper way such that if anyone tries to access it anytime, it can be there to cater to the needs of all people regarding the technology.

Following are the examples of behavior which are demonstrated by technology literate: First, Communicating the ideas of technology wisely which is done through writing, using verbal communication such exchange of word of mouth and through drawing as a way of explaining the concepts for people to understand. For the examples of behaviors to be successful in the field of technology, they must be confirmed by technology literature and ensure that there is the proper of communication such that when people are accessing them, they will be essentials information. Also, it provides that the data are appropriately written and to those passed through word of mouth are adequately done. Second, the willingness of working in technology, which as a result will create room for more experience, skills as well as learning the new ideas.

The aim of technology literate to have willing to work in the department of technology is to make many students and society at large to gain knowledge as well as developing more skills that are helpful. Third, functions comfortably, professionally as well as being powerfully within the technologically –productive society. Technology literature ensures that the kind of the behavior presented in the community is functioning correctly, it is professional, and it is powerful since the society who receive information is productive and therefore it needs some of the high quality (DeCoito & Richardson, 2018). Forth, the behavior is believed to be self-confident other than being passive in the matters that concern the technological decision. Five, the actions in technical literature makes an individual contribution within the advancement of the technology. Finally, behavior in technology usually predicts the needs and the problems that are likely to occur in the future, and it also applies the technology that provides the best solution to a particular issue. Generally, it is the work of technology literacy to ensure that its behaviors are presentable and that whatever they present to the society is helpful.

In conclusion, from the above information which about technology literacy, it is an assurance that it has a role of ensuring that it has the possible solution for all the problem. Second, it helps in critical thinking as well as making sure that the work give is more efficient and that people enjoy when using technological literacy.

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Table of Contents

What is technology literacy, what is technology digital literacy, media literacy vs. technology literacy vs. information literacy, difference between information literacy and technology literacy, pitfalls of technology literacy, the benefits of technology literacy, elements of technology literacy, what are technology literacy skills, technology literacy examples, making sense of technology, what is technology literacy.

What Is Technology Literacy

Technology literacy refers to the knowledge, skills, and abilities required to effectively and responsibly use technology tools, devices, and resources.

Technology is all around us and permeates every aspect of our modern existence. Advances and innovations have made many of our daily tasks easier to accomplish and have enriched our professional and personal lives.

Technology's dizzying growth rate shows us that technology literacy is essential to our daily lives. So, today we’re diving into the concept of technology literacy, including what it is, a comparison between media and technology literacy, essential elements, skills, and examples. Let us learn more about technology literacy.

Technology literacy is the ability to use, comprehend, manage, and analyze technology safely, effectively, and responsibly. This literacy includes using technology to evaluate, create and integrate information.

But technology literacy isn’t limited to just computers and the Internet; it can be applied to any technological device. The definition of technology is any device, system, or methodology created to solve a problem or help carry out a task.

Technological digital literacy involves proficiency in using digital devices (smartphones, laptops, tablets) to access the Internet to discover, create, review, evaluate, and use information via different digital platforms.

Note that many of these definitions are fluid, changing, and evolving. For example, in some instances, technology digital literacy is referred to as just "digital literacy." But in this instance, we should consider technology digital literacy a sub-group, a specific form of technology literacy.

Media literacy can be defined as the ability to access, evaluate, analyze, or create media in various forms. Media literacy helps people digest the news, ascertain legit news from fake news, and digest the information. It’s not limited to the Internet, however. Media literacy includes television, newspapers, radio, magazines, books, etc.

On the other hand, technology literacy deals with navigating technology and getting the most out of it.

Information literacy is the ability to search for, identify, analyze, organize, apply, and communicate information regardless of the format and is used primarily in situations that require decision-making, problem-solving, or knowledge acquisition.

So, bringing together all three literacies, we get the following difference breakdown:

  • Information Literacy: The ability to locate, evaluate and use/apply information.
  • Media Literacy: The ability to access, analyze, evaluate, and create information in various forms.
  • Digital Literacy: The ability to use digital technology, networks, and communication tools to find, evaluate, and create information.

Here's a breakdown of the differences between information literacy and technology literacy:

While both are distinct concepts, they often intersect and complement each other. In the digital age, technology is a vital component of information literacy, as individuals must navigate digital platforms and tools to access and evaluate information effectively. Similarly, technology literacy benefits from information literacy skills by enabling individuals to find accurate and relevant information using digital resources.

Since technology plays an increasing role in our lives, we must make sure that we are navigating technology in a manner that helps rather than hinders us. Technological literacy shows us how to get the most out of our technology while avoiding pitfalls.

And yes, there are pitfalls. The more features something has, the more challenges it poses, and the more things can go wrong. After all, a machine with 1,000 moving parts has a greater chance of developing a glitch than a device with just ten moving parts! But that machine with 1,000 parts can do more, and that’s the one we will want. So here we are, trying to make sure we get the full benefit of that complicated machine without it backfiring on us!

Here are some of the pitfalls of modern tech, things that, ideally, technology literacy will help mitigate:

1. Over-reliance

It’s possible to get too dependent on the latest gadgets. But if you're tech-literate, you are aware of how too much technology can draw you in, and hopefully, that literacy will help you strike a healthy balance.

2. Misinformation

Today’s media comes in many forms, and it’s easily accessed and available 24 hours a day. The choices are mind-boggling. Unfortunately, this glut of media has dramatically increased the chance of stumbling across misinformation, exaggeration, events taken out of context, and outright lies. A savvy, technologically literate person has a lower risk of getting duped.

3. Privacy Concerns

Thanks to recent tech innovations, we have video cameras everywhere, GPS trackers on our smartphones, wearable tech that monitors our health, and phones that can access the vastness of the Internet quickly and easily. The technologically literate consumer is mindful of secure personal passwords and knowing where to draw the line regarding personal privacy.

Let’s see what good stuff technology literacy brings to the table.

1. Improving Your Skills

The more you understand about technology, the easier it is to build up your old digital skills or learn new ones. With more of today's workforce going digital, it's wise to increase your proficiency. The more you use technology, specifically in the digital world, the more you will pick up, and that’s good news for your resume!

2. Technological Versatility

Technology is everywhere, so if you’re highly technologically literate, you become more comfortable using technology in many situations and get the best from it.

3. Raises Student Engagement

The more technology we introduce into classrooms, the more engaged students become. Technology provides students with a more immersive, engaging experience that enhances student learning. Furthermore, introducing technology literacy into the classroom teaches students how to make the most of technology and use it responsibly. Thus, the concept perpetuates itself to a new generation and develops a core of technological ethics.

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Here are the eight critical elements of technological literacy:

1. Cultural

Understanding the online digital culture, how to behave, netiquette, and privacy.

2. Cognitive

Using different devices, software, and interfaces, and using standard features like navigation menus, profiles, hashtags, and settings.

3. Constructive

Understanding how to create things in the Internet community, including how digital content can be appropriated, reused, and repurposed. This elements also covers copyright issues and plagiarism.

4. Communicative

Learning how to communicate in the digital environment.

5. Confident

Grasping the idea that we belong and fit into an online community.

6. Creative

The art of creating things that have value online.

7. Critical

Using reasoning skills to evaluate, discern, scrutinize, and question digital content effectively. This element also covers telling reputable sources apart from less credible sources.

Realizing how to be a good digital citizen, including understanding their digital rights and responsibilities and using the digital environment to self-organize and be a part of something bigger than the individual.

So, what skills should you master to achieve technological literacy? Here’s a breakdown of the critical technology literacy skills necessary:

1. Adaption

We’ve already established that technology changes fast. Tech-savvy people pick up new skills to effectively use new technology. As tech evolves, we must adapt.

2. Communication

Technologically literate people don’t just consume data; they create their own information and share it with others.

3. Comprehension

It’s essential to know how to make sense of what we see and read in the context of technology.

4. Evaluation

This skill covers the ability to critically analyze information to determine its accuracy, authority, validity, and reliability.

Here are some examples of technology literacy:

  • Creating content: This includes posting to social media, making a YouTube video, and writing a blog post.
  • Communication: This includes sending and receiving emails, using video conferencing, and participating in online discussions.
  • Research: This includes using search engines to find information, evaluating the credibility of sources, and citing sources correctly.
  • Problem solving: This includes troubleshooting technical problems, identifying and resolving security risks, and using technology to find creative solutions to problems.
  • Collaboration: This includes working with others on projects, sharing files and information, and using technology to facilitate teamwork.
  • Critical thinking: This includes evaluating the accuracy and reliability of information, identifying bias, and making informed decisions about the use of technology.
  • Creativity: This includes using technology to express oneself, solve problems, and create new things.

As technology continues to evolve, so will the skills that are considered essential for technology literacy. Here are some additional examples of digital technology literacy skills:

  • Using productivity software: This includes word processing, spreadsheet, and presentation software.
  • Using social media: This includes creating and managing social media accounts, using social media to connect with others, and using social media to promote oneself or one's business.
  • Using e-commerce: This includes making purchases online, managing online accounts, and using online payment methods.
  • Using cloud computing: This includes storing files online, accessing files from anywhere, and collaborating on projects with others.
  • Using security software: This includes protecting one's devices from malware, using strong passwords, and being aware of online security risks.

Technology literacy is an essential skill in today's world. By developing these skills, you can be more productive, communicate more effectively, and be more successful in your personal and professional life.

It's a vast, sprawling tech world, and it can be overwhelming. Fortunately, Simplilearn has the resources to help you make sense of it all. Simplilearn offers a fantastic array of online courses, bootcamps, tutorials, articles, and even free resources, all designed to improve your tech skills.

Whether you want to find a better job or just learn how to get the most out of today’s tech, Simplilearn has what you need. So visit Simplilearn today, and join the ranks of the technologically literate!

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Advanced Essay #2 [What is Technological Literacy]

I wake up to the sound of my phone, I grab my iPad and take it into the bathroom and play my music as I get ready for the morning. As I get dressed, I review my schedule on my iStudiez Pro app and look if there are any assignments I missed the night before.

Technology plays a major part in my life when it comes to personal advantages. However, technological literacy plays an even bigger role in my education. My school has a technology and project based learning curriculum. Everyday we are working on computers. People outside of the school is unaware of the effect technological literacy has on us.

People today can say that the way education was for them is different from how it was for them when they were my age. Technology wasn’t an easy go to thing in class for them. What's interesting about schools today is that we have different definitions of literacy, which you never expect to change. My English teacher’s definition of literacy is “To read the word and read the world.; literacy affects an individual and society”. However, my definition is the ability to comprehend and explain forms of writing. Literature is a conversation written down and it is an exchange from one person to another. When my teacher was in high school he didn’t have technology to give him advantages like I and my classmates have today. Now in this day in age we have a new branch of literacy, technological literacy. Due to this change, for the most part he learns as we do in the educational world; on some occasions he becomes the students and we become the teachers to show him the definition of technological literacy. Technological literacy from a dictionary, is the ability of an individual, working independently and with others, to responsibly, appropriately and effectively use technology tools to access, manage, integrate, evaluate, create and communicate information.

What many people get wrong about technological literacy is well described Albert Einstein who said that, “ I fear the day when the technology overlaps with our humanity. The world will only have a generation of idiots. ”, technology is making each generation worse to the point that we have children that simpletons. Others would disagree claiming that technology is helping us reach the peak of society. There are upsides and downsides to technology making it a grey area of good and bad. I think technological literacy do not make us dependent, they help us prosper as learners. Technological literacy in schools do not effect anything in school except how the student learn, and in doing so it doesn't make the students learning habits better or worse. Technological literacy only allows another option to a method of learning.  It does not resolve in students being more intelligent people or resolve in students being idiots. That's not even how school works at all. From how the school system works, you can't determine either case. Technology in school just makes things more convenient and easier. In an article I read, a reporter at a technology based school quoted “When students are using technology as a tool or a support for communicating with others, they are in an active role rather than the passive role of recipient of information transmitted by a teacher, textbook, or broadcast. The student is actively making choices about how to generate, obtain, manipulate, or display information. Technology use allows many more students to be actively thinking about information, making choices, and executing skills than is typical in teacher-led lessons. Moreover, when technology is used as a tool to support students in performing authentic tasks, the students are in the position of defining their goals, making design decisions, and evaluating their progress.”

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Vol. XVIII, No. 4, Summer 2002

Improving Technological Literacy

By A. Thomas Young , Jonathan R. Cole , Denice Denton

The first step is understanding what is meant by “technology.” Then we must try to reach the broadest possible audience.

At the heart of the technological society that characterizes the United States lies an unacknowledged paradox. Although the nation increasingly depends on technology and is adopting new technologies at a breathtaking pace, its citizens are not equipped to make well-considered decisions or to think critically about technology. Adults and children alike have a poor understanding of the essential characteristics of technology, how it influences society, and how people can and do affect its development. Many people are not even fully aware of the technologies they use every day. In short, as a society we are not technologically literate.

Technology has become so user friendly that it is largely invisible. Many people use technology with minimal comprehension of how it works, the implications of its use, or even where it comes from. We drive high-tech cars but know little more than how to operate the steering wheel, gas pedal, and brakes. We fill shopping carts with highly processed foods but are largely ignorant of the composition of those products or how they are developed, produced, packaged, and delivered. We click on a mouse and transmit data over thousands of miles without understanding how this is possible or who might have access to the information. Thus, even as technology has become increasingly important in our lives, it has receded from our view.

To take full advantage of the benefits of technology, as well as to recognize, address, or even avoid some of its pitfalls, we must become better stewards of technological change. Unfortunately, society is ill prepared to meet this goal. And the mismatch is growing. Although our use of technology is increasing apace, there is no sign of a corresponding improvement in our ability to deal with issues relating to technology. Neither the nation’s educational system nor its policymaking apparatus has recognized the importance of technological literacy.

Because few people today have hands-on experience with technology, except as finished consumer goods, technological literacy depends largely on what they learn in the classroom, particularly in elementary and secondary school. However, relatively few educators are involved in setting standards and developing curricula to promote technological literacy. In general, technology is not treated seriously as a subject in any grade, kindergarten through 12th. An exception is the use of computers and the Internet, an area that has been strongly promoted by federal and state governments. But even here, efforts have focused on using these technologies to improve education rather than to teach students about technology. As a result, many K-12 educators identify technology almost exclusively with computers and related devices and so believe, erroneously, that their institutions already teach about technology.

Most policymakers at the federal and state levels also have paid little or no attention to technology education or technological literacy. Excluding legislation focused on the use of computers as educational tools, only a handful of bills introduced in Congress during the past 15 years refer to technology education or technological literacy. Virtually none of these bills have become law, except for measures related to vocational education. Moreover, there is no evidence to suggest that legislators or their staffs are any more technologically literate than the general public, despite the fact that Congress and state legislatures often find themselves grappling with policy issues that require an understanding of technology.

It is imperative that this paradox, this disconnect between technological reality and public understanding, be set right. Doing so will require the cooperation of schools of education, schools of engineering, K-12 teachers and teacher organizations, developers of curriculum and instructional materials, federal and state policymakers, industry and nonindustry supporters of educational reform, and science and technology centers and museums.

What is technology?

In the broadest sense, technology is the process by which humans modify nature to meet their needs and wants. However, most people think of technology only in terms of its tangible products: computers and software, aircraft, pesticides, water-treatment plants, birth-control pills, and microwave ovens, to name a few. But the knowledge and processes used to create and operate these products–engineering know-how, manufacturing expertise, various technical skills, and so on–are equally important. An especially critical area of knowledge is the engineering design process, of starting with a set of criteria and constraints and working toward a solution–a device, say, or a process–that meets those conditions. Technology also includes the infrastructure necessary for the design, manufacture, operation, and repair of technological artifacts. This infrastructure includes corporate headquarters, manufacturing plants, maintenance facilities, and engineering schools, among many other elements.

Technology is a product of engineering and science. Science has two parts: a body of knowledge about the natural world and a process of enquiry that generates such knowledge. Engineering, too, consists of a body of knowledge (in this case, knowledge of the design and creation of human-made products) and a process for solving problems. Science and technology are tightly coupled. A scientific understanding of the natural world is the basis for much of technological development today. The design of computer chips, for instance, depends on a detailed understanding of the electrical properties of silicon and other materials. The design of a drug to fight a specific disease is made possible by knowledge of how proteins and other biological molecules are structured and interact.

Conversely, technology is the basis for a good part of scientific research. Indeed, it is often difficult, if not impossible, to separate the achievements of technology from those of science. When the Apollo 11 spacecraft put Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin on the moon, many people called it a victory of science. Similarly, the development of new types of materials or the genetic engineering of crops to resist insects are usually attributed wholly to science. Although science is integral to such advances, however, they also are examples of technology–the application of unique skills, knowledge, and techniques, which is quite different from science.

Technology also is closely associated with innovation, the transformation of ideas into new and useful products or processes. Innovation requires not only creative people and organizations but also the availability of technology and science and engineering talent. Technology and innovation are synergistic. The development of gene-sequencing machines, for example, made the decoding of the human genome possible, and that knowledge is fueling a revolution in diagnostic, therapeutic, and other biomedical innovations.

Hallmarks of technological literacy

As with literacy in reading, mathematics, science, or history, the goal of technological literacy is to provide people with the tools to participate intelligently and thoughtfully in the world around them. The kinds of things a technologically literate person must know can vary from society to society and from era to era. In general, technological literacy encompasses three interdependent dimensions: knowledge, ways of thinking and acting, and capabilities. Although there is no archetype of a technologically literate person, such a person will possess a number of general characteristics. Among such traits, technologically literate people in today’s U.S. society should:

Recognize technology in its many forms, and understand that the line between science and technology is often blurred. This will quickly lead to the realization that technology permeates modern society, from little things that everyone takes for granted, such as pencils and paper, to major projects, such as rocket launches and the construction of dams.

Understand basic concepts and terms, such as systems, constraints, and tradeoffs that are important to technology . When engineers speak of a system, for instance, they mean components that work together to provide a desired function. Systems appear everywhere in technology, from the simple, such as the half-dozen components in a click-and-write ballpoint pen, to the complex, such as the millions of components, assembled in hundreds of subsystems, in a commercial jetliner. Systems also can be scattered geographically, such as the roads, bridges, tunnels, signage, fueling stations, automobiles, and equipment that comprise, support, use, and maintain the nation’s network of highways.

Technological literacy is more a capacity to understand the broader technological world than it is the ability to work with specific pieces of it.

Know something about the nature and limitations of the engineering design process. The goal of technological design is to meet certain criteria within various constraints, such as time deadlines, financial limits, or the need to minimize damage to the environment. Technologically literate people recognize that there is no such thing as a perfect design and that all final designs involve tradeoffs. Even if a design meets its stated criteria, there is no guarantee that the resulting technology will actually achieve the desired outcome, because unexpected and often undesirable consequences sometimes occur alongside intended ones.

Recognize that technology influences changes in society and has done so throughout history. In fact, many historical ages are identified by their dominant technology: the Stone Age, Iron Age, Bronze Age, Industrial Age, and Information Age. Technology-derived changes have been particularly evident in the past century. Automobiles have created a more mobile, spread-out society; aircraft and advanced communications have led to a “smaller” world and, eventually, globalization; contraception has revolutionized sexual mores; and improved sanitation, agriculture, and medicine have extended life expectancy. Technologically literate people recognize the role of technology in these changes and accept the reality that the future will be different from the present largely because of technologies now coming into existence, from Internet-based activities to genetic engineering and cloning.

Recognize that society shapes technology as much as technology shapes society. There is nothing inevitable about the changes influenced by technology; they are the result of human decisions and not of impersonal historical forces. The key people in successful technological innovation are not only engineers and scientists but also designers and marketing specialists. New technologies simply meet the requirements of consumers, business people, bankers, judges, environmentalists, politicians, and government bureaucrats. An electric car that no one buys might just as well never have been developed, and a genetically engineered crop that is banned by the government is of little more use than the weeds in the fields. The values and culture of society sometimes affect technology in ways that are not immediately obvious, and technological development sometimes favors the values of certain groups more than others. It has been argued, for example, that such development traditionally has favored the values of males more than those of females and that this factor might explain why the initial designs of automobile airbags were not appropriate to the smaller stature of most women.

Understand that all technologies entail risk. Some risks are obvious and well documented, such as the tens of thousands of deaths each year in the United States from automobile crashes. Others are more insidious and difficult to predict, such as the growth of algae in rivers caused by the runoff of fertilizer from farms.

Appreciate that the development and use of technology involve tradeoffs and a balance of costs and benefits. For example, preservatives may extend the shelf life and improve the safety of our food but also cause allergic reactions in a small percentage of individuals. In some cases, not using a technology creates added risks. Thus, technologically literate people will ask pertinent questions, of themselves and others, regarding the benefits and risks of technologies.

Be able to apply basic quantitative reasoning skills to make informed judgments about technological risks and benefits. Especially important are mathematical skills related to probability, scale, and estimation. With such skills, for example, individuals can make reasonable judgments about whether it is riskier to travel from St. Louis to New York on a commercial airliner or by car, based on the known number of fatalities per mile traveled for each mode of transportation.

Possess a range of hands-on skills in using everyday technologies. At home and in the workplace, there are real benefits of knowing how to diagnose and even fix certain types of problems, such as resetting a tripped circuit breaker, replacing the battery in a smoke detector, or unjamming a food-disposal unit. These tasks are not particularly difficult, but they require some basic knowledge and, in some cases, familiarity with simple hand tools. The same can be said for knowing how to remove and change a flat tire or hook up a new computer or telephone. In addition, a level of comfort with personal computers and the software they use, and being able to surf the Internet, are essential to technological literacy.

Seek information about particular new technologies that may affect their lives. Equipped with a basic understanding of technology, technologically literate people will know how to extract the most important points from a newspaper story, television interview, or discussion; ask relevant questions; and make sense of the answers.

Participate responsibly in debates or discussions about technological matters. Technologically literate people will be prepared to take part in public forums, communicate with city council members or members of Congress, or in other ways make their opinions heard on issues involving technology. Literate citizens will be able to envision how technology (in conjunction with, for example, the law or the marketplace) might help solve a problem. Of course, technological literacy does not determine a person’s opinion. Even the best-informed citizens can and do hold quite different opinions depending on the question at hand and their own values and judgments.

A technologically literate person will not necessarily require extensive technical skills. Such literacy is more a capacity to understand the broader technological world than it is the ability to work with specific pieces of it. Some familiarity with at least a few technologies will be useful, however, as a concrete basis for thinking about technology. Someone who is knowledgeable about the history of technology and about basic technological principles but who has no hands-on capabilities with even the most common technologies cannot be as technologically literate as someone who has those capabilities.

But specialized technical skills do not guarantee technological literacy. Workers who know every operational detail of an air conditioner or who can troubleshoot a software glitch in a personal computer may not have a sense of the risks, benefits, and tradeoffs associated with technological developments generally and may be poorly prepared to make choices about other technologies that affect their lives. Even engineers, who have traditionally been considered experts in technology, may not have the training or experience necessary to think about the social, political, and ethical implications of their work and so may not be technologically literate. The broad perspective on technology implied by technological literacy would be as valuable to engineers and other technical specialists as to people with no direct involvement in the development or production of technology.

Laying the foundation

In order to improve technological literacy, the most natural and important place to begin is in schools, by providing all students with early and regular contact with technology. Exposing students to technological concepts and hands-on, design-related activities is the most likely way to help them acquire the kinds of knowledge, ways of thinking and acting, and capabilities consistent with technological literacy. However, only 14 states now require some form of technology education for K-12 students, and this instruction usually is affiliated with technician-preparation or school-to-work programs. In 2000, the Massachusetts Board of Education added a combined engineering/technology component to its K-12 curriculum, becoming the first state to explicitly include engineering content. Elsewhere, a few schools offer stand-alone courses at all grade levels, but most school districts pay little or no attention to technology. This is in stark contrast to the situation in some other countries, such as the Czech Republic, France, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Taiwan, and the United Kingdom, where technology education courses are required in middle school or high school.

State boards of education can provide incentives for publishers to modify next-generation science, history, social studies, civics, and language arts textbooks to include technology content.

One limiting factor is the small number of teachers trained to teach about technology. There are roughly 40,000 technology education teachers nationwide, mostly at the middle-school or high-school level. By comparison, there are some 1.7 million teachers in grades K-12 who are responsible for teaching science. Another factor is inadequate preparation of other teachers to teach about technology. Schools of education spend virtually no time developing technological literacy in students who will eventually stand in front of the classroom. The integration of technology content into other subject areas, such as science, mathematics, history, social studies, the arts, and language arts, could greatly boost technological literacy. Without teachers trained to carry out this integration, however, technology is likely to remain an afterthought in U.S. education.

Beyond grades K-12, there are additional opportunities for strengthening technological literacy. At two-year community colleges, many courses are intended to prepare students for technical careers. As they learn new skills, these students, with proper instruction, also can develop a better understanding of the underlying technology that could be used as the basis for teaching about the nature, history, and role of technology in our lives. Colleges and universities offer a variety of options for more advanced study of technology. There are about 100 science, technology, and society programs on U.S. campuses that offer both undergraduate and graduate courses; and a number of universities have programs in the history, philosophy, or sociology of technology. Many engineering schools require that students take at least one course in the social impacts of technology. For the adult population already out of school, informal education settings, such as museums and science centers, as well as television, radio, newspapers, magazines, and other media, offer avenues for learning about and becoming engaged in a variety of issues related to technology.

A number of specific steps can help strengthen the presence of technology in both formal and informal education. For example, federal and state agencies that help set education policy should encourage the integration of technology content into K-12 standards, curricula, instructional materials, and student assessments (such as end-of-grade tests) in nontechnology subject areas.

At the federal level, the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Department of Education can do this in a number of ways, including making integration a requirement when providing funding for the development of curriculum and instructional materials. Technically oriented agencies, such the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the Department of Energy, and the National Institutes of Health, can support integration by developing accurate and interesting background materials for use by teachers of nontechnical subjects.

At the state level, science and technology advisers and advisory councils, of which there are a growing number, can use their influence with governors, state legislatures, and industry to encourage the inclusion of technology content not only in the general K-12 curriculum but also in school-to-work and technician-preparation programs. State boards of education can provide incentives for publishers to modify next-generation science, history, social studies, civics, and language arts textbooks to include technology content. Such incentives might come from incorporating technological themes into state educational standards or by modifying the criteria for acceptable textbooks.

States also should better align their K-12 standards, curriculum frameworks, and student assessments in the sciences, mathematics, history, social studies, civics, the arts, and language arts with national educational standards that stress the connections between these subjects and technology. Among such guidelines, the International Technology Education Association, a professional organization of technology educators, recently published Standards for Technological Literacy: Content for the Study of Technology , a comprehensive statement of what students must learn in order to be technologically literate.

Another crucial need is to improve teacher education. Indeed, the success of changes in curricula, instructional materials, and student assessments will depend largely on the ability of teachers to implement those changes. Lasting improvements will require both the creation of new teaching and assessment tools and the appropriate preparation of teachers to use those tools effectively. Teachers at all levels should be able to conduct design projects and use design-oriented teaching strategies to encourage learning about technology. This means that NSF, the Education Department, and professional organizations that accredit teachers should provide incentives for colleges and universities to transform the preparation of all teachers to better equip them to teach about technology throughout the curriculum. In preparing elementary school teachers, for example, universities should require courses or make other provisions to ensure that would-be teachers are, at the very least, scientifically and technologically literate. Science for All Americans , an educational guidebook produced by the American Association for the Advancement of Science, might well serve as a minimum standard of such literacy.

The research base related to technological literacy also must be strengthened. There is a lack of reliable information about what people know and believe about technology, as well as about the cognitive steps that people use in constructing new knowledge about technology. These gaps have made it difficult for curriculum developers to design teaching strategies and for policymakers to enact programs to foster technological literacy. Building this scientific base will require creating cadres of competent researchers, developing and periodically revising a research agenda, and allocating adequate funding for research projects. NSF should support the development of assessment tools that can be used to monitor the state of technological literacy among students and the public, and NSF and the Education Department should fund research on how people learn about technology. The findings must be incorporated into teaching materials and techniques and into formal and informal education settings.

It will be important, as well, to enhance the process by which people make decisions involving technology. One of the best ways for members of the public to become educated about technology is to engage in discussions of the pros and cons, the risks and benefits, and the knowns and unknowns of a particular technology or technological choice. Engagement in decisionmaking is likely to have a direct positive effect on the nonexpert participants, and involving the public in deliberations about technological developments as they are taking shape, rather than after the fact, may actually shorten the time and reduce the resources required to bring new technologies into service. Equally important, public participation may result in design changes that better reflect the needs and desires of society.

Industry, federal agencies responsible for carrying out infrastructure projects, and science and technology museums should provide more opportunities for the nontechnical public to become involved in discussions about technological developments. The technical community, especially engineers and scientists, is largely responsible for the amount and quality of communication and outreach to the public on technological issues. Industry should err on the side of encouraging greater public engagement, even if it may not always be clear what types of technological development merit public input. In the federal arena, some agencies already require recipients of funding to engage communities likely to be affected by planned infrastructure projects. These efforts should be expanded. The informal education sector, especially museums and science and technology centers, is well positioned to prepare members of the public to grapple with the complexities of decisionmaking in the technological realm. These institutions and the government agencies, companies, and foundations that support them could do much more to encourage public discussion and debate about the direction and nature of technological development at both the local and national level.

If informed decisionmaking is important for all citizens, then it is vital for leaders in government and industry whose decisions influence the health and welfare of the nation. With both sectors facing a daunting array of issues with substantial technological components, there is a great unmet need for accurate and timely technical information and education. Thus, federal and state agencies with a role in guiding or supporting the nation’s scientific and technological enterprise, along with private foundations concerned about good governance, should support education programs intended to increase the technological literacy of government officials (including key staff members) and industry leaders. Executive education programs could be offered in many locations, including major research universities, community colleges, law schools, business schools, schools of management, and colleges of engineering. The engineering community, which is directly involved in the creation of technology, is ideally suited to promote such programs. An engineering-led effort to increase technological literacy could have significant long-term payoffs, not only for decisionmakers but also for the public at large.

These steps are only a starting point. Numerous other actions, both large and small, also will be needed across society. The case for technological literacy must be made consistently and on an ongoing basis. As citizens gradually become more sophisticated about technological issues, they will be more willing to support measures in the schools and in the informal education arena to raise the technological literacy level of the next generation. In time, leaders in government, academia, and business will recognize the importance of technological literacy to their own well-being and the welfare of the nation. Achieving this goal promises to be a slow and challenging journey, but one that is unquestionably worth embarking on.

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National Academies Press: OpenBook

Technically Speaking: Why All Americans Need to Know More About Technology (2002)

Chapter: 2 benefits of technological literacy, 2 benefits of technological literacy.

T he argument for technological literacy is rooted in a single, fundamental belief. In a world permeated by technology, an individual can function more effectively if he or she is familiar with and has a basic understanding of technology. A higher level of technological literacy in the United States would have a number of benefits, for individuals and for the society as a whole.

Improving Decision Making

Technological literacy prepares individuals to make well-informed choices in their role as consumers. The world is full of products and services that promise to make people’s lives easier, more enjoyable, more efficient, or healthier, and more and more of these products appear every year. A technologically literate person cannot know how each new technology works, its advantages and disadvantages, how to operate it, and so on, but he or she can learn enough about a product to put it to good use or to choose not to use it.

Americans are not only consumers; they are also workers, members of families and communities, and citizens of a large, complex democracy. In all of these spheres, they face personal decisions that involve the development or use of technology. Is a local referendum on issuing bonds for the construction of a new power plant a wise use of taxpayer dollars? Does a plan to locate a new waste incinerator within several miles of one’s home pose serious health risks, as opponents of the initiative may claim? How should one react to efforts by local government to place surveillance cameras in high-crime areas of the city? Technologically literate people

will be much better able to address these and many other technology-related questions.

Decision making is not only personal. Leaders in a variety of sectors, including business, government, and the media, make decisions daily that affect what others—sometimes thousands or even millions of people—think and do. These individuals in particular will benefit from a considerable understanding of the nature of technology, and an awareness that all technologies involve trade-offs and may result in unintended consequences. With a higher level of technological literacy in the nation, people in positions of power will be more likely to manage technological developments in a way that maximizes the benefits to humankind and minimizes the negative impacts. Of course, there is no hard-and-fast line between purely personal concerns and business interests, the needs of states, and the needs of the nation. In most cases the personal interests of everyday Americans do influence decisions by policy makers and company CEOs.

Some concrete examples can illustrate the importance of technological literacy to decision making at all levels. The next three sections present descriptions of current issues that require decision making of some sort. The first is the use of car air bags and relates mostly to the concerns of individual citizens. The second addresses genetically modified foods, an issue relevant to individuals, who must decide which foods to buy at the grocery store; policy makers, who must take into account regulatory, trade, and other considerations; and the biotechnology industry and farmers, the two groups most responsible for creating and selling such products. The third example is the California energy crisis, which has put pressure on individuals, businesses, and political leaders to develop short-term and long-term solutions.

All three examples have a central technological component, which may be part of the problem, part of a solution, or both. The technological component cannot be separated from political, legal, social, and other concerns. A box at the end of each example shows how the three dimensions of technological literacy—knowledge, capabilities, and ways of thinking and acting—might come into play in each case.

On or Off? Deciding About Your Car Air Bag

By now, almost everyone knows that car air bags can cause injury or even death, as well as offer protection. Most car owners are aware of

recommendations by safety experts that young children be placed in the back seat and that a distance of at least 10 inches be maintained between the driver and the steering wheel to minimize the chances of air bag-induced injury. Some people feel that air bags are not worth the risk and would like to shut them off, or at least have the option to do so. An on-off switch can be installed, but it requires permission from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and costs several hundred dollars.

The decision to disable your air bag has potentially serious consequences. To make the best choice, the decision maker should know something about how air bags work, how well they protect, and in what situations.

All air bag systems operate in basically the same way. Onboard sensing devices measure crash impact. Once activated, the crash sensors signal solid-propellant inflators to begin the chemical reaction that generates nitrogen gas that fills the air bag. The gas inflates a folded nylon bag, which acts as a protective cushion between the occupant and the inside of the car. As the person collides with the air bag, vents in the bag allow the gas to escape, absorbing energy and reducing the severity of impact. Ideally, occupants collide with the bag just as it becomes fully inflated. But if the bag strikes the occupant while it is still inflating, it can cause serious injury or death because the bags travel at speeds of more than 100 mph.

Studies show that air bags are about 13 percent effective in saving the lives of drivers not wearing a lap-shoulder seat belt (NHTSA, 1996). That is, if 100 fatally injured drivers in cars without air bags had been driving cars with air bags, 13 of them would have survived. By comparison, seat belts are approximately 42 percent effective in preventing driver fatalities, compared to situations in which no seat belts are worn. The combined effectiveness, for drivers, of seat belts and air bags is 47 percent. This means that, overall, air bags reduce the risk of death for drivers wearing seat belts by 9 percent ([58 – 53]/58).

As it turns out, the government vastly overestimated the effectiveness of air bags, claiming in the late 1970s they would save 12,000 lives annually (Federal Register, 1977). The actual record is not nearly as impressive. From 1986 through April 2001, fewer than 7,000 lives had been saved by air bags. An estimated 246 people (including 61 unconfirmed air bag-related fatalities), mostly drivers and children, had been

killed by air bags during the same period (GAO, 2001a). By comparison, about 11,000 lives are saved every year by seat belts.

The benefits of air bags depend on many factors. One of the most important factors is the weight and, especially, the height of the occupants. Because those two parameters are closely linked to gender, the effectiveness of air bags differs greatly for men and women. For example, nearly three-quarters of the drivers killed by air bags were women. In one study, air bags used in conjunction with seat belts reduced total harm (a mix of fatalities and injuries) among male drivers by 11 percent but increased the harm to female drivers wearing seat belts by 9 percent (Dalmotas et al., 1996). For people of small stature (shorter than 5 feet, 3 inches tall), air bags increased total harm. The data also show that age makes a difference. Drivers between the ages of 15 and 50 wearing seat belts were better protected with air bags. However, no clear evidence showed added protection for belted drivers over the age of 50.

A number of factors besides air bags affect the safety of vehicle occupants. Consider the 9 percent figure, which represents the additional lifesaving potential of air bags for belted drivers. A belted driver could reduce his or her risk of dying in a crash by the same amount by driving a car 200 pounds heavier (Evans, 1991). The same nine-percent reduction in driver fatalities could be achieved across the nation by lowering average driving speeds on U.S. roads by 2 mph.

Recently, the technological landscape for air bags has begun to change. New NHTSA regulations require that automakers design and install more advanced air bag systems for model 2004 vehicles. The new devices are meant to meet the safety needs of drivers and passengers of different sizes, weights, and seating positions. The rules have stimulated millions of dollars of research on occupant classification sensors, seat belt usage sensors, multistage inflators that can fill air bags at varying rates, and less aggressive air bag designs (GAO, 2001a).

Return now to the original decision—whether or not to install an on-off switch. The decision will depend on many factors related not only to the personal characteristics of the people who will use the vehicle— drivers and passengers—but also to the type and age of the vehicle itself. To make an intelligent choice, the individual will have to draw on all three dimensions of technological literacy ( Box 2-1 ).

Waiter, There’s a GMO in My Soup

In fall 2000, American consumers were informed that a type of genetically modified corn approved for use in animal feed had somehow made its way into grocery stores as an ingredient in taco shells manufactured by Kraft Foods. There were concerns that a bacterial protein inserted into the corn’s genetic makeup to protect growing plants from the European corn borer could trigger an allergic reaction in some people. Kraft recalled millions of its taco shells in response ( Washington Post , September 18, 2000).

Groups opposed to genetically modified foods cited the episode as evidence that the risks had not been taken seriously enough. The biotechnology industry downplayed the importance of the mix-up, pointing out that the same protein is present in other types of corn grown for human consumption—including organically grown corn—and noting that

the amount of modified corn was so small that it was unlikely to cause any noticeable health effects. The media and the public were left to flounder in a sea of conflicting opinions and interpretations.

In early 2001, batches of seed corn grown by U.S. farmers and slated for sale overseas were found to contain small amounts of the same genetically modified version discovered in taco shells ( Washington Post , March 1, 2001). Because European and Asian opposition to genetically modified organisms (GMOs) is very strong (Laget and Cantley, 2001), billions of dollars of U.S. exports were threatened. The U.S. government ended up buying back millions of dollars worth of seed stock that had been mixed with the genetically modified version, called StarLink.

In late July 2001, a scientific advisory panel to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) concluded there was not enough evidence to prove that the modified corn does not pose an allergic risk to people. Based on the panel’s finding, the agency decided to maintain its policy of banning even trace amounts of the modified corn in foods ( Washington Post , July 28, 2001).

Because of fears of adverse health effects, the European Union (EU) had already effectively banned the importation of most biotechderived foods in 1998, causing sales of exported U.S. corn to plunge from about $300 million annually in the mid-1990s to less than $10 million in recent years (GAO, 2001b). The EU accounts for only about 5 percent of the market for this U.S. crop, but other larger markets in Asia and Latin America have also taken steps, such as requiring labeling of genetically modified food products, that are expected to decrease the size of the export market for American farmers.

Perhaps no technology better illustrates the current mismatch between the adoption of a new technology and society’s ability to deal with it. In the past 10 years, the idea of taking genes from one organism and transferring them into another has gone from a laboratory demonstration to a commercial reality. In 1999, U.S. farmers planted some 70 million acres of genetically engineered crops, including 36 percent of all corn, 55 percent of soybeans, and 43 percent of cotton. Most of those crops were modified either to produce a substance, often a protein, that defends them against insect pests—as was the case for the corn that ended up in the tacos—or else to be resistant to herbicides that are sprayed on the fields to control weeds ( New York Times , March 14, 2000).

In the next decade, we could see explosive growth in the agricultural uses of genetic engineering. Researchers are constantly improving

techniques for putting new genes into organisms, and scientists can now map out entire genomes—that is, the entire genetic makeup of organisms—quickly and at relatively low cost. This will have two effects. First, it will improve our understanding of the genetics of crops and farm animals. Second, it will provide a multitude of new genes to work with.

In the United States, the genetically engineered changes benefit both farmers and the environment. In the case of StarLink, for example, farmers growing the modified corn can use less chemical pesticide, thus cutting their production costs and, at the same time, reducing harmful pesticide-laden runoff. In developing countries, however, the benefits could be even greater. Genetic enhancements could mean the difference between starvation and survival for large numbers of people and between dependency on foreign imports and agricultural self-sufficiency for entire nations.

Some gene splicing dramatically improves the health benefits of foods. In Switzerland, for instance, a German scientist, Ingo Potrykus, has engineered a new type of rice that produces generous amounts of beta carotene, which the human body turns into Vitamin A. If widely adopted, this so-called golden rice could prevent 1 to 2 million deaths and 500,000 cases of blindness each year among children who survive almost completely on rice for months at a time and suffer from Vitamin A deficiency. Healthier foods of this sort could enhance diets and improve health around the world, in both developed and developing countries.

Today, we find ourselves with a volatile combination of rapidly growing biotech capabilities and a public that is not prepared to understand or assess those capabilities. In Europe, the mismatch has led to a nearly complete ban on genetically modified foodstuffs. Ingo Potrykus’s plan to distribute his beta-carotene rice to poor farmers around the world is threatened by an effort in Switzerland to pass legislation forbidding the export of GMOs.

The development and use of GMOs raises a number of questions, not only for consumers but also for farmers and policy makers. Which foods are safe to eat? Which crops should be grown and under what conditions and to whom can they be sold? How should products containing GMOs be labeled? It is impossible to know whether a technologically literate population would reject GMOs, embrace them, or find a middle ground, accepting foods that provided significant improvements, such as the beta-carotene rice, but rejecting foods that simply lowered the cost of production by a few percentage points. Whatever the outcome, the

decision should be made by people with a basic understanding of technology and an ability to weigh risks and benefits ( Box 2-2 ).

Turning the Lights Out: The California Energy Crisis

In January 2001, California was facing an energy crisis. Demand for electric power had grown to the point that the state’s two major utilities, Pacific Gas & Electric and Southern California Edison, were having difficulty meeting the need. On days of particularly high demand, they instituted rolling blackouts, turning off electricity to first one area, then another. In addition, the utilities were losing money so rapidly that both were predicting bankruptcy.

How did California, which would have the world’s sixth largest economy if it were a country, get into this predicament? The answer is complex. At least a part of the explanation is the failure of state officials to understand—or perhaps their decision to ignore—basic facts about how the electric power industry works. The state also appears to have miscal-

culated when it deregulated the electric power industry. In addition, uncontrollable factors, such as the pace of economic growth in California, and drought and colder than average temperatures in the Northwest, conspired to put further pressure on the system.

Commercial electricity is generated in plants large enough to provide energy for tens of thousands of homes. All electricity, whether generated from hydroelectric dams, solar collectors, wind turbines, or plants that consume coal, oil, natural gas, or nuclear fuel, is fed into a network of transmission wires—the “grid”—which delivers the power where it is needed. Operators keep track of demand on an hourly basis, making sure that enough power is being fed into the system. If demand outstrips supply, the operators attempt to find extra power from outside plants attached to the grid. If they cannot, they shut off power to some customers to prevent the entire system from failing.

Once it enters the grid, there is no distinction between electricity generated by, say, a natural gas plant outside Sacramento and a nuclear plant near San Diego. In short, electricity becomes a commodity that can be bought and sold by the kilowatt-hour. Because of this, a company like Southern California Edison does not have to generate exactly enough power for its customers. If it needs more, the company can buy extra power from another producer; if it has extra power, it can sell it.

For decades the electric power industry has been closely regulated by the states. Each utility was required to have enough generating capacity to serve its customers. In turn, the state set rates for electricity that guaranteed the utilities a reasonable return on their investment. Although this was a safe arrangement for the utilities, some critics argued that regulation removed much of the utilities’ incentive to produce power at the lowest possible cost.

In response to these arguments, the state of California decided in 1996 to deregulate its electric utilities. According to the plan devised by legislators, the two major utilities would sell off much of their generating capacity and buy electric power wholesale from whatever companies would provide it to them at the lowest cost ( New York Times , January 2, 2001). The idea was that competition would drive prices down, and the utilities would be able to purchase power at a lower cost than the cost of producing it. At a second, later stage, the retail market would be deregulated, allowing consumers to benefit from the lower costs of electricity production.

As events would prove, the plan had at least two major flaws.

First, it did not pay enough attention to the building of new generating plants. In the early 1990s, California had an excess of electrical generating capacity, and its economy was growing slowly enough that new plants did not seem to be a priority ( New York Times , January 11, 2001). Pacific Gas & Electric and Southern California Edison had always provided enough electricity, and the lawmakers who wrote the bill assumed that, with deregulation, other companies would build whatever plants were necessary ( New York Times , January 5, 2001).

But they had not counted on the hurdles these companies would face. California’s environmental laws are among the nation’s toughest, so building new plants is more difficult there than in many other states ( New York Times , January 10, 11, 2001). Those difficulties, combined with uncertainties about how the deregulated industry would work, made companies cautious about committing to new plants. And those that did commit found that the approval rate was slowed both by the state agencies that approve new plants and local activist groups that did not want generating plants built in their backyards ( New York Times , January 5, 11, 12, 2001). As a result, in the 3 years after the deregulation law passed, California added only 2 percent to its generating capacity ( New York Times , January 11, 2001).

Meanwhile, the California economy grew rapidly, twice the national average in the late 1990s, and demand for electricity grew apace ( New York Times , January 11, 2001). By summer 2000, demand had caught up with supply, and on hot days during peak hours, the demand exceeded maximum generating capacity. The utilities were forced to buy electricity from outside the state, but other Western states had little to spare, and the scarcity drove prices up sharply. The California utilities, which had been accustomed to paying about $60 to $70 per megawatthour, suddenly found themselves paying as much as $750, the federally mandated maximum. Later, when the cap was removed, they were forced to pay spot prices as high as $1,400 per megawatt-hour.

This increased cost could not be passed on to consumers, however, which was a second major flaw in the deregulation plan. According to the 1996 law, retail prices of electricity were not scheduled to be deregulated until March 2002; until then, the utilities could charge no more than $65 per megawatt-hour ( New York Times , January 4, 2001). As a result, Pacific Gas & Electric and Southern California Edison found themselves paying out several times as much to buy power as they took in for selling it; by January 2001, they had lost a combined $12 billion.

Unable to pay their bills and unable to find creditors willing to lend them the billions they needed to keep going, both utilities warned they might go bankrupt by February.

The price freeze also meant that consumers, who were paying an artificially low price for energy, had no incentive to use less electricity. As a result, demand continued to rise. The only exception was in the San Diego area, where San Diego Gas & Electric had sold all of its power plants and was free to raise its retail rates in response to wholesale costs. In the summer of 2000, when that utility more than doubled its rates, consumer energy use dropped by more than 5 percent in a few weeks ( New York Times , January 10, 2001).

The California energy crisis illustrates the danger of taking a technology for granted and acting without thinking carefully about the factors that influence the technology in question. A more technologically literate California legislator might have insisted that planning for additional generating capacity begin before deregulation went forward. The trade-offs between increasing electricity supply and protecting the environment may also have been more prominent in the state’s debate on energy policy. More knowledgeable citizens might have made a difference, too, for instance by being more supportive of proposals for building new generating plants, agreeing to stricter conservation measures, or pushing for more investment in alternative energy sources, such as solar, wind, and thermal power. If lawmakers had believed their constituents were technologically savvy enough to understand the need for steps like these, they might have been more confident about making politically unpopular, but necessary, decisions.

Even after the crisis had begun, a more technologically literate public might have made a difference. Much of the debate over the crisis ignored the fact that the utilities had enough power except during times of peak load—the hours when demand is at or near a maximum. If consumers had been convinced to cut their usage slightly during those hours, the utilities might not have been forced to buy electricity at inflated prices.

Based on the three dimensions of technological literacy, we can suggest the kinds of understanding and competencies technologically literate Californians—legislators and citizens—might have brought to bear on the state’s energy crisis ( Box 2-3 ). It is impossible to know, of course, whether the crisis could have been avoided if the level of technological literacy had been higher. It seems reasonable, however, that the

debate over electric power in California would have been different and might have included more prominently the voices of everyday citizens.

Increasing Citizen Participation

In addition to being consumers and workers, Americans are also citizens of a democracy who have a right—indeed a responsibility—to let their voices be heard on matters that concern them. Most current political, legal, and ethical issues, from what to do about global warming to how to protect privacy in the Information Age, have a technological component. A technologically literate citizen is likely to participate in the decision making, whether by voting for a candidate or in a referendum, writing a letter to the editor of a local paper, sending an e-mail to a member of Congress, participating in a public opinion poll, speaking out at a town meeting, or supporting the work of an organized special-interest group.

In a democratic society, people must be involved in the technological decisions that affect them for two very different reasons—one practical and one philosophical. First, decisions made without public input are often eventually rejected as illegitimate and antidemocratic,

which can impede the acceptance of a technology. Second, democratic principles are based on citizen participation—at least indirect participation through elected representatives—in decisions that affect them. Few decisions today affect people more than those about the kinds of technologies that are developed and how they are used. Citizen input can be influential during the design or research and development (R&D) phase of technology. People can also affect how a technology is used once it passes into the public arena.

Public participation in discussions about the development and uses of technology is also important for another reason—it can lead to greater technological literacy. The simple act of asking and trying to answer questions about technology can lead to a better understanding not only of technical, but also of the social, economic, and political aspects of the issue at hand. What are the risks and benefits, and the trade-offs, of developing or using a technology? Who wins and who loses? What are the costs and the alternatives? Public involvement also gives policy makers a sense of their constituents’ fears and hopes, and thus an indication of the public response to a particular path of technology development, as well as to new or lesser known alternatives.

Slaying the “Green Snake” 1

The design and construction of the Boston Central Artery and Tunnel, the largest public works project under way in the United States, illustrates the power of everyday people to influence the shape and direction of technological development.

Scheduled for completion in 2004, the $12 billion-plus project, involving 160 lane miles in a 7.5-mile corridor, will bring to a close the development of a massive interstate highway network begun during the administration of President Dwight Eisenhower. The central artery portion of the project will remove the “Green Snake,” the elevated roadway that has been an enormous eyesore in the heart of downtown Boston. The Green Snake, which was built in 1959, is now clogged with almost three times as much traffic as planners originally anticipated. The Boston Central Artery and Tunnel will replace the elevated structure with an underground route that is expected to facilitate the movement of inter-

state highway traffic through the Boston region. The harbor tunnel portion of the project will provide a route to Logan Airport. The project also calls for a new bridge across the Charles River from Boston into Cambridge.

The project is unique in the extent and nature of public participation during the design phase and the sensitivity to environmental concerns shown by the developers. Many people believe the project could become a model for other cities throughout the world.

Critics, however, point out that the actual cost of the project has greatly exceeded the original projected figure. Unanticipated construction problems can account for much of the cost overrun, but also to blame are the enormous expenses incurred in responding to the concerns of interest groups about potential environmental, economic, and cultural impacts on Boston.

Because the federal government funds about 90 percent of the work, the project had to comply with the National Environmental Protection Act of 1969, which requires the preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). EISs are lengthy documents that identify in detail how a project will positively and negatively affect the environment. The EIS prepared for the Central Artery and Tunnel addressed 17 categories, including transportation, air quality, noise and vibration, energy, economic characteristics, visual characteristics, historic resources, water quality, wetlands and waterways, and vegetation and wildlife.

Because the law mandated public participation in the design of the project, a draft EIS was widely circulated by managers of the project. Copies were placed in libraries; a public hearing was held; and a public comment period was provided. One hundred seventy-five people, including spokespersons for government agencies, such as EPA, and public interest groups, including the Sierra Club, testified at the hearing, and 99 individuals provided written comments.

Even before the EIS was circulated, negotiations between project management and the public, especially neighborhood, business, and environmental groups, had resulted in a number of changes, called “mitigations,” in the plan to address adverse impacts. Affluent organizations even hired their own engineers to provide detailed alternative designs for highway alignment, ramps, and locations of ventilation buildings. The citizens of East Boston called upon their congressional representatives to block funding for the project, if the harbor tunnel emerged in their neighborhood. The tunnel now emerges on Logan Airport property. Overall, the

project has accommodated some 1,100 mitigations, which added an estimated $2.8 billion to the total cost.

In 1990, public attention was focused on the design for the Charles River bridge and ramps. The twenty-sixth alternative design, nicknamed Scheme Z, was announced in August 1988 but aroused little reaction, probably because three-dimensional models and easily comprehensible drawings of the design were not available. When a model of the structure was displayed a year later, the architectural critic of the Boston Globe compared the bridge and access ramps to a massive wall across the Charles River. An EPA official predicted that the structure would be the ugliest in New England.

Various citizen groups responded vociferously to Scheme Z. A newly formed organization, Citizens for a Livable Charlestown, joined the chorus of complaints and hired an artist to prepare an illustration emphasizing the overwhelming size of the bridge and associated roadways. Publication of the drawing in the Charlestown Patriot caused a public uproar. Within weeks, other groups, including the Charles River Watershed Association, which has more than 1,000 members, and the New England chapter of the Sierra Club joined the chorus of opposition. A weeklong series of articles in the Boston Globe in December 1990 stressing the potential noise, shadows, and blight of the enormous structure fanned the fires of discontent, demonstrating the effectiveness of an alliance of media and activist groups in stimulating public participation. In light of the growing opposition, the Boston City Council, by unanimous vote, declared its opposition to Scheme Z.

In January 1991, the Massachusetts secretary of transportation attempted to assuage various interest groups by establishing a Bridge Design Review Committee. The composition of the 42-member committee was based on current thinking about participatory design and conflict resolution. The committee’s deliberations were open, multidisciplinary, and consensus seeking. Members represented national environmental organizations, such as the Sierra Club; local environmental, transportation, and business groups, such as the Charles River Watershed Association and the Boston Chamber of Commerce; and organizations of professional engineers, architects, and urban planners.

Instead of revising Scheme Z, in June 1991 the committee voted unanimously to abandon it and proposed a new conceptual design for a tunnel under the Charles River to replace some of the massive bridge structure. The Federal Highway Administration and the U.S. Army

Corps of Engineers, however, called for other, nontunnel alternatives. Critics warned that digging for a tunnel would not only be expensive, but would also cause serious pollution problems for the river.

The conflict was resolved when the state selected a bridge designed by world-famous Swiss architect Christian Menn. The new design specified that two bridges be built side by side, one with 10 lanes, and one with 4. Peter Zuk, the Central Artery/Tunnel project director, proclaimed it a world-class, elegant design. Others characterized it as a signature structure, and an appropriate gateway to a great city.

The Boston project illustrates some interesting ideas about technological literacy. In this case it was primarily organizations, especially environmental organizations, not individuals, that were active, effective participants in design reviews, controversies, and the obtaining of mitigations. The public at large did not have to be knowledgeable about the technical details of highway construction and environmental impact. However, public support—financial and political—for the involved organizations was critical. In addition, the media, especially local newspapers, played a major role in informing the public and raising the level of concern.

Supporting a Modern Workforce

One of the obvious benefits of technological literacy is in the economic realm. Technology, particularly in the high-tech sector, has been driving much of the economic growth in the United States and elsewhere, and an increasing percentage of jobs require technological skills (Rausch, 1998). Although technological literacy and technical competency are not the same thing, they are related. Increasing the overall level of technological literacy would almost certainly improve the climate for technology-driven economic growth. A technologically literate population would, for example, understand that science and technology are the foundation of our economic strength and would be more likely to support the research, education, and economic policies that support that foundation. Conversely, technologically literate citizens would be less likely to support policies that would undermine the technological basis of the economy.

Improving technological literacy would also help to prepare individuals for jobs in our technology-driven economy, thus strengthening the economy. Technologically literate workers are more likely than those

lacking such literacy to have a broad range of knowledge and abilities, such as the critical skills identified by the Secretary’s Commission on Achieving Necessary Skills (SCANS) (DOL, 1991).

The study of technology involves evaluating how others have successfully solved problems and provides experience in hands-on problem solving; hence, technologically literate workers are likely to be able to identify and solve problems. They are also more likely to put things in a broad context, because the study of technology emphasizes systems thinking. They are more likely to be comfortable with complex interrelationships, which are common in technological systems. And they may be able to troubleshoot problems with equipment when necessary because they have learned how to ask the necessary questions to understand why a technology works—or why it isn’t working.

Technology is everywhere in the business world. Doctors, nurses, and other medical personnel depend on a growing number of medical devices for examination, diagnosis, and treatment. Teachers are bombarded with new tools for preparing and delivering lessons, researching new teaching techniques, and enabling students to learn outside the traditional setting. Farmers use the Global Positioning System to help monitor crop yields and tailor the application of herbicides, and they must decide whether or not to plant genetically modified seeds. Self-employed workers must set up home offices and purchase and operate their own office technology. Technologically literate people will tend to be more comfortable dealing with technologies that their jobs demand and will find it easier to master new technologies as they come along.

The military is also becoming increasingly dependent on technology. The nation’s 1.4 million soldiers, airmen, sailors, and marines must be able to operate and manage technically complex weaponry, transportation systems, and communications systems (DOD, 2001). The effectiveness of U.S. fighting forces depends largely on how well they do their jobs. Their performance, in turn, depends not only on their knowledge of the specific systems but also on their problem-solving, critical-thinking, and teamwork skills. Improving the overall technological literacy of the population will make it easier for the military to find men and women who can serve effectively.

Employers in all sectors are demanding workers with a mix of factual and conceptual knowledge, critical thinking skills, and procedural knowledge. In this climate, technologically literate workers may have a competitive advantage in the job market and may be more likely to land

better paying, more interesting jobs. For similar reasons, technological literacy can help narrow the growing wage gap—and related shortage of skills—between salaried workers with higher educations and hourly workers without it (DOL, 1999).

At the moment, the United States does not produce enough technically skilled workers to support certain sectors of its high-tech economy. Therefore, we must depend on workers brought in from other countries (Committee on Workforce Needs in Information Technology, 2001; 21st Century Workforce Commission, 2000). A campaign for technological literacy could lessen our dependence on foreign workers by encouraging young students to pursue scientific or technical careers. Boosting the awareness of the importance of technology in the general population may increase the esteem and respect accorded to jobs in the technology sector, which would also encourage more students to pursue careers in science and engineering.

Narrowing the Digital Divide

Many commentators have noted a distressing pattern in the use of the Internet. Most of the people who have access to it, either at work or at home, and those most likely to know how to take advantage of its resources are more affluent, better educated, urban, and are not members of ethnic or racial minorities. The most recent data from the federal government show that this “digital divide” has been decreasing as Internet usage among most groups of Americans continues to increase (DOC, 2000). For instance, in rural areas, 39 percent of households had access to the Internet as of August 2000, a 75 percent jump from just 20 months earlier. The gap between the percentage of rural households with Internet access and the nationwide average fell from 4 percentage points to 2.6 percentage points in 2000, a drop of 35 percent.

Blacks and Hispanics have made significant gains in Internet access. Over the 20-month period, the proportion of black households with access increased from 11.2 percent to 23.5 percent; Hispanic access rose from 12.6 percent to 23.6 percent. However, large gaps still remain for these groups when measured against the national average, and these gaps appear to be growing. The gap in Internet access between black and Hispanic households and the national average was 18 percentage points in August 2000, an increase of 3 percentage points for blacks and 4.3 percentage points for Hispanics. Large gaps in the ownership of comput-

ers between these two groups and the national average of ownership have not narrowed since the last government survey.

Access to a personal computer is the single most important factor in whether or not a person uses the Internet. Not surprisingly, people in higher socioeconomic brackets are far more likely than those in lower brackets to have personal computers at home or have access to them at work. In addition, people with higher levels of education were more likely to use the Internet, regardless of their income level.

Black students are less likely than white students to own a home computer even when household incomes are factored into the equation. Furthermore, among those without home computers, black students are less likely than white students to access the Internet outside the home—in school, libraries, or friends’ houses. As a result, many fewer black students than white students are working on the Internet.

A number of remedies have been suggested for closing the digital divide. Most focus on providing universal access to the Internet so that everyone can get online regardless of income level or job status. Equally important will be improving technological literacy because the better people understand the Internet and its value or are comfortable with technology, the more likely they will be to make the effort to learn to use it.

A similar situation exists for technology in general. All technology, not just computers and the Internet, empowers those who own it and understand it and puts those who do not at a disadvantage. Thus, the nation’s poor and minorities will benefit much more by being technologically literate; being literate, they will find it easier to overcome their lack of preparation and participate effectively in an increasingly technological world.

If overall technological literacy is not improved, particularly among the technological have-nots, we can expect to see the growth of a “technological divide” more pervasive than today’s digital divide. Interesting, well-paying jobs that require a technological understanding and skills will go mostly to well-educated upper- and middle-class Americans and foreign nationals, while the American underclass will continue to be stuck in low-wage, low-skill jobs. On a deeper level, the needs and views of this underclass will, for the most part, not be taken into account by those responsible for developing and setting policy about technology. Thus, new technologies and new applications of existing technologies will be

largely irrelevant to this group, who will fall further and further outside the mainstream.

Enhancing Social Well-being

It has become a cliché that only the young are up to date on technology, particularly in the fast-moving world of computers and the Internet. Can’t figure out how to set up your Web page? Ask a 15-year-old. Confused by e-mail? To many elementary school children it is easier to use than the U.S. mail. But behind the cliché is a basic truth. Technology is changing so rapidly that people who are not prepared to deal with it can quickly find themselves falling behind.

Losing touch in this way can leave people with a sense that they have somehow lost control of their lives, that the world is moving on without them. For much of human history, this was not a problem because changes occurred slowly enough that people had plenty of time to adapt and get used to them. But eras of rapid change—the Industrial Revolution in England, for example, or the United States in the late 1800s and early 1900s—have tested the limits of human adaptability. In times of rapid change, many people struggle to adjust to a world that is suddenly quite different from the one they have known. Even for people who can cope with specific how-tos of modern life, living in a highly technological world can be alienating. This idea has been studied by sociologists and historians and explored in the popular media, including books, movies, and television programs.

In the next few decades, people’s abilities to adjust to new ways of doing things will be tested far more than they have ever been tested before. People in their forties and fifties already often feel as if technology is passing them by; in another generation, people in their thirties could feel the same way. The more adaptable people—those who are invigorated, or at least not threatened, by the new and the unfamiliar—will do well. But many people will find that their sense of well-being and their quality of life are diminished rather than enhanced by new and improved technologies. They will wish that the world were not moving quite as quickly toward the future.

Technological literacy can provide a tool for dealing with rapid changes. A technologically literate person will find it easier to understand and assimilate new technologies and so will be less likely to be left behind.

Equally important, technologically literate people will have a high enough comfort level with and broad comprehension of technology to put the changes in context and accept them even if they do not fully understand them. Technological literacy, along with many other types of literacy, can empower people by giving them the tools to make sense of their world, even as it changes around them.

Much would be gained, for individuals and the country as a whole, by raising the general level of technological literacy in the United States. Of course, even if technological literacy reaches a high level among a majority of Americans, it will not solve all of our problems or compensate for the shortcomings of human nature. There will never be such a panacea. But it seems equally certain that technological literacy will be an essential ingredient to realizing the benefits outlined in this chapter.

A technologically literate public will undoubtedly make some poor decisions. But many more decisions will be good ones that benefit the whole society rather than only one part of it. Participation in itself is no guarantee of sound decision making. But if participation occurs in an environment in which education about technology is common and in which taking part in technological affairs is encouraged, then it will have a positive influence.

Technological literacy in the workplace is likely to be most relevant in technology-intensive industries, such as communications, biotechnology, and aerospace. But employers in other sectors of the economy that are not involved directly in the creation of technology will also reap the benefits. They, too, need employees with basic technological competence and the ability to solve problems. The positive effect of technological literacy on the national economy is necessarily speculative. The arguments that have been made about the importance of literacy in mathematics and science to the economic future of the country are at least as salient in the context of technological literacy.

The case for technological literacy related to the digital divide and social well-being is at heart about equity, about leaving no one behind. Technological literacy is not a sufficient condition for eliminating all inequities, but it is among the necessary conditions for improvement in a modern society.

Committee on Workforce Needs in Information Technology. 2001. Building a Workforce for the Information Economy. National Research Council. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press.

Dalmotas, D.J., J. Hurley, A. German, and K. Digges. 1996. Air bag deployment crashes in Canada. Paper 96-S1O-05, 15th Enhanced Safety of Vehicles Conference, Melbourne, Australia, May 13-17, 1996.

DOC (U.S. Department of Commerce). 2000. Falling Through the Net: Toward Digital Inclusion. Available online at: < http://www.ntia.doc.gov/ntiahome/fttn00/contents00.html > (November 13, 2001).

DOD (U.S. Department of Defense). 2001. Armed Forces Strength Figures for April 2001. Available online at < http://web1.whs.osd.mil/mmid/military/ms0.pdf > (June 26, 2001).

DOL (U.S. Department of Labor). 1991. What Work Requires of Schools: A SCANS Report for America 2000. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Labor.

DOL. 1999. Futurework: Trends and Challenges for Work in the 21st Century. U.S. Department of Labor, Washington, D.C. Available online at: < http://www.dol.gov/asp/futurework/report.htm > (November 13, 2001).

Evans, L. 1991. Traffic Safety and the Driver. New York: Van Nostrand.

Federal Register. 1977. Federal Motor Vehicle Standards: Occupant Protection Systems. 42 (128): 34289–34305.

GAO (General Accounting Office). 2001a. Vehicle Safety: Technologies, Challenges, and Research and Development Expenditures for Advanced Air Bags. Report to the Chairman and Ranking Minority Members, Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, U.S. Senate. June 2001. Washington, D.C.: GAO.

GAO. 2001b. International Trade: Concerns Over Biotechnology Challenge U.S. Agricultural Exports. Report to the Ranking Minority Member, Committee on Finance, U.S. Senate. GAO-01-727. June 2001. Washington, D.C.: GAO.

Hughes, T.P. 1998. Coping with complexity: Central Artery/Tunnel. Pp. 197–254 in Rescuing Prometheus. New York: Pantheon Books.

Laget, P., and M. Cantley. 2001. European responses to biotechnology: Research, regulation, and dialogue. Issues in Science and Technology. Summer 2001. Available online at: < http://www.nap.edu/issues/17.4/p_laget.htm > (December 14, 2001).

NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration). 1996. Effectiveness of Occupant Protection Systems and Their Use. Third Report to Congress. Available online at: < http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov/people/injury/airbags/208con2e.html > (November 13, 2001).

Rausch, L.M. 1998. High-Tech Industries Drive Global Economic Activity. Available online at: < http://www.nsf.gov/sbe/srs/issuebrf/sib98319.htm > (November 13, 2001).

21st Century Workforce Commission. 2000. A Nation of Opportunity: Building America’s 21st Century Workforce. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Labor.

Cell phones . . . airbags . . . genetically modified food . . . the Internet. These are all emblems of modern life. You might ask what we would do without them. But an even more interesting question might be what would we do if we had to actually explain how they worked?

The United States is riding a whirlwind of technological change. To be sure, there have been periods, such as the late 1800s, when new inventions appeared in society at a comparable rate. But the pace of change today, and its social, economic, and other impacts, are as significant and far reaching as at any other time in history. And it seems that the faster we embrace new technologies, the less we’re able to understand them. What is the long-term effect of this galloping technological revolution? In today’s new world, it is nothing less than a matter of responsible citizenship to grasp the nature and implications of technology.

Technically Speaking provides a blueprint for bringing us all up to speed on the role of technology in our society, including understanding such distinctions as technology versus science and technological literacy versus technical competence. It clearly and decisively explains what it means to be a technologically-literate citizen. The book goes on to explore the context of technological literacy—the social, historical, political, and educational environments.

This readable overview highlights specific issues of concern: the state of technological studies in K-12 schools, the reach of the Internet into our homes and lives, and the crucial role of technology in today’s economy and workforce. Three case studies of current issues—car airbags, genetically modified foods, and the California energy crisis—illustrate why ordinary citizens need to understand technology to make responsible decisions. This fascinating book from the National Academy of Engineering is enjoyable to read and filled with contemporary examples. It will be important to anyone interested in understanding how the world around them works.


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Educator resources, technology literacy: everything you need to know.

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We are living in a world where technology is everywhere. While there are countless benefits to technological advances, it’s crucial to be able to use this technology safely and effectively.

To help build your understanding of technology literacy, this article will answer two key questions: what is it, and why is it important? By providing some technology literacy examples, you’ll be ready to prepare students to succeed in a technology-rich world.

What is Technology Literacy?

Technology literacy is simply the ability to use technology safely, effectively, and responsibly. Along with media literacy, it falls under the broader term of “digital literacy.” While media literacy is similar in that it is the ability to understand information presented to us across the internet, newspapers, books, and television, “media literacy” is more commonly used to refer to the ability to analyze information and decide what is trustworthy and what is false or misleading.

Technology literacy extends to using technology for evaluation, creation, and integration of information. While it encompasses computers, smartphones, and tablets, it’s not limited to these devices; it can be applied to any technological tool. This article focuses on technology literacy in reference to digital technologies.  

Why is Technology Literacy Important?:

What was once a luxury has become a common and readily accessible tool in every aspect of our lives, including education. Students worldwide now learn on interactive whiteboards, virtual reality technology provides unique learning experiences, and social robots support learners with additional needs in classrooms.

As technology’s role in our lives expands, it’s crucial to navigate it in a way that enhances rather than hinders us. Unfortunately, this is easier said than done. Despite numerous benefits, technology use comes with drawbacks. Therefore, technological literacy guides us on how to maximize our technology’s potential while avoiding pitfalls.

A graphic displaying the benefits of technology literacy

The Essential Elements of Technology Literacy:

Now, let’s delve into the comprehensive essential elements of technology literacy for 21st-century students:

  • Communication: Students must learn internet safety fundamentals, such as creating strong passwords and understanding privacy settings. Tech-literate individuals can communicate safely and securely online, not just by consuming information but also by creating and sharing their content.
  • Collaboration: In a digitally connected world, collaboration is key. Students should develop the ability to work effectively with others using technology, whether it’s through shared documents, online project management tools, or virtual collaboration platforms. Collaborative skills ensure they can thrive in team environments.

Collaboration Graphic

  • Critical Thinking: Just as traditional reading and writing literacy are vital, comprehending digital content is equally important. Critical-thinking students can evaluate information, ensuring they access high-quality digital content by analyzing information for accuracy, validity, reliability, and authority.

Creativity Graphic

  • Creativity: Technology literacy should foster creativity. Students should be encouraged to use technology as a means to express their ideas, develop innovative solutions, and create digital content.
  • Functional Skills: Beyond creativity, students should have functional skills to operate a variety of digital tools and platforms efficiently. This includes understanding software interfaces, troubleshooting common issues, and adapting to new digital environments.
  • Ability to Find and Select Relevant Information: The internet is a vast information landscape. Being tech literate means having the skills to navigate this landscape effectively, finding credible sources, and discerning relevant information from the noise. This ability is crucial for research, decision-making, and staying well-informed.
  • Social and Cultural Understanding: Technology connects us across borders and cultures. A tech-literate individual should understand how technology impacts society and culture globally.
  • Safety: Safety in the digital realm is paramount. Students need to be well-versed in online safety practices, including identifying and avoiding online threats, cyberbullying, and recognizing potentially harmful content. Promoting a safe online experience is essential.

Social and Cultural Understanding Graphic

With these comprehensive technology literacy skills, students and educators can adapt to technological changes with ease and thrive in our interconnected, digital world.

Need assistance in teaching these essential elements of technology literacy? Consider Marty the Robot , the walking, dancing, eyebrow-wiggling humanoid robot, which can introduce valuable problem-solving and critical thinking skills. Sign up for your free 2-week trial today !

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Chapter 8: COVID and learning

8.2.3 The overwhelming influence of technology (research essay)

English 102, april 2021, introduction.

Before the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, no one believed that it would have the capability of being able to shut down schools, restricting human contact, and forcing individuals of every social class to rely upon technology. These three main issues have a connection with technological communication, being their main source of keeping in contact with their needs. As a college student living within the beginning and until the end of the pandemic, I can say that society has involuntarily been forced to use technology as a compromise to spread the virus. Places filled with students and teachers are most affected in these times as they are told to decide whether they would like to be in-person or online. This major decision will affect how students and teachers can communicate with each other more effectively.

However, the school system is still not fully prepared to make such a sudden change because of how it was based to be taught in-person. Students need to have strong communication with their teachers in order to keep up with work and understand the material. This idea is also vice versa with teachers to understand if their students are struggling or need help. This is a very difficult period to survive, but both groups need to work together with technology. As a source of knowledge and power, there is only so much that technology can do before it all depends on how students and teachers use it to keep up with their studies.

The main reason why schools along with their boards of education are still running is because of the power of technology. The idea of recreating a classroom with teachers, students, and a smart/black board, creates a virtual environment that mimics the feeling of being in an actual classroom. I have begun to realize more that since I am going to continue into my major of health sciences and knowing that the pandemic will not go away shows me that we will have to rely upon technology fully until the end of the pandemic.

Since the beginning of this semester, the opportunity of being able to research the topic of how COVID-19 has affected communication between teachers and students has taught me a lot of what goes on in terms of communication and literacy. I learned more about how the pandemic has affected different social classes and their struggles, and how other students have combated against the hardships of the virus. Through research, it has allowed me to agree with myself and change my major for how things will continue in the future of relying on technology to teach students difficult material and hoping that an online curriculum will lead to the same results of an in-person school.

One compromise that the boards of education and government officials decided on was to close schools. This generally seems like a good idea to restrict human contact and relieve the stress surrounding the pandemic. However, closing schools over long periods of time will lead to affecting the academic records of students (Kuhfeld et al). With how the pandemic has continued to spread it may take at least 2 or more years to recover from the closing of schools (Kuhfeld et al). There was a research study conducted within china on young individuals with their mental health. It was revealed in the study that young people had serious mental problems (Leilei et al). There were other factors incorporated, however this simple main idea of the pandemic causing stress and anxiety for young people can be compared to other individuals around the world. Since a year has passed, the pandemic has had the power to reach most ends of the earth and we are only now creating a vaccine. These are only a few examples of the effects that the pandemic has had on a general group of individuals to show what could possibly affect students and teachers around the world.

For some additional support in my topic and outside scholarly resources, I decided to create my own study on the peers around me. The individuals included within my experiment were high school and college students as they are the population, I am surrounding my topic on. The experiment was a 6-question survey on google forms with answers of yes, no, or just a little. My thought process on only having two options was so that the students would make up their mind and to not give me confused data. I felt that it was better if I got responses that my peers were forced to think about, rather than taking the easy route and saying an in-between answer.

The first question that greeted my classmates was “Have you ever struggled with online schooling?” The reason behind this question was to see how my peers have felt about online schooling since it has been a year since the lockdown protocol. Of my 52 responses, 48.1% said yes, 19.2% said no, and 32.7% said just a little. I was not surprised so see that at least half of the responses felt that online schooling has been unpleasant. The other half of the responses felt mixed about online schooling, being average and just a little difficult. The reason this question is the only one to have a third choice was because I did not want my experiment to be boring or suffocating with just two choices to choose from. Allowing my peers to effortlessly think about their answers and respond was my thought process for getting responses that came to their mind instantly.

Have you struggled with online schooling? Yes 48.1 % no 19.2% Just a little 32.7%

The second question is a follow-up to the first because I wanted to make my experiment known that this is the topic I am researching. The second question asked, “Do you prefer to take school online?” With this question, I wanted to see that if my peers enjoy online schooling then that could explain why there were people who did not find online schooling hard in the first question. The results showed that 78.8% of the responses said no, and 21.1% said yes to preferring online schooling. I was also not surprised by these results because of the research I have been conducting on my topic for the past couple of months. This entire experiment cannot be used to represent the entire population of high school and college students; however, it is a good representation of a small strata of students who live in Ohio and go to public schools. The location and environment of my peers is an advantage to other students who live with low-income, or do not have the technology to know what online schooling feels like.

do you prefer to take school online? yes 21.2% no 78.8%

With the months of doing research on how the pandemic has affected students with their studies or just living a normal life, I wanted to ask my own question about technology. Through my research I learned that there were a decent number of students around the country who did not have access to the internet or have sufficient technological devices to go to class or do homework. This frightened me because the pandemic could continue and involuntary hurt students of the lower social class. My final question was, “Do you own a device that can easily help you access your classes and homework?” Of the 52 responses, no one was able to say no, which is surprising and frightening. The idea of technology having such an impact on how students view schooling, or even having access to technology can impact on how students can go to school. This experiment has been done before on larger scales and with the same outcomes, however I wanted to create my own in order to see for myself that I could trust the scholarly articles I have been using to justify my research. With these discoveries in mind, it will be much easier to understand the reason behind the research questions I will base my topic on.

do you own a device that can easily help you access your classes and homework? 100% yes

Research Questions

My first question dealing with communication affecting schools: How do teachers use technology to communicate with students during the pandemic? My next question is similar; however, it is more specific to college students today. How do teachers incorporate the use of blackboard collaborate and student emails to rely on the information about the course?

Research Question One

So how do teachers use technology to communicate with students during the pandemic? The purpose of my first question being so simple-worded was because I wanted to generalize about the studies and conversations that went on under this question. The idea of communication is that it requires the effort of both sides. But since the pandemic has begun exposing food insecurities around the country, students in a difficult home environment are now struggling to have something to eat daily (Lancker). In addition to their food struggles, students also do not have suitable online learning environments with no heat or reliable internet access (Lancker). Knowing that these unfortunate students exist, I still have not seen any compromises made in order to help students in general. Students with bad internet connection, unusable devices, and struggling to stay healthy are all problems that poor families have begun to face. This is the hard truth where schools and their boards of education are still going through academic year like the pandemic does not exist. However, this my biased point of view comes from the fact that I know that I am not the only student facing challenges during this difficult time.

There are not many chances where adults and children alike, get to experience a long period of struggle and distress. Some could argue that with COVID-19 having impacted face-to-face interactions it has the advantage of positively affecting our daily lives. One positive impact that the pandemic has had, is that it created a time period where we would learn new skills for the time being of staying inside all the time. New hobbies, catching up with old friends, reading books, and or having time to relax. However, James Gee’s article supports the idea that COVID-19 is negatively affecting the communication between individuals. Gee goes into detail on the ideas of “discourses” and “identity kits;” he associates these terms with the requirements of using language and where it comes from. Gee describes a discourse as an identity kit that is comes with the complete package of how an individual interacts with others to be recognized (Gee 18). He also categorizes different discourses by “primary” or “secondary” to separate the communication that goes on between and individual with their family versus outside experiences. For the purpose of this research paper, the term secondary discourse will be focused on because of its importance. In Gee’s article he states that, “beyond the primary discourse, however, are other discourses which crucially involve social institutions beyond the family.” Gee describes secondary discourses to be an identity kit that is created from interacting with outside experiences where social interaction occurs. These social institutions that Gee writes tries to explain places of work, school grounds, stores, or business buildings.

The reason why I use Gee’s idea of secondary discourses is to show that with COVID-19 coming into existence means that if the pandemic continues, then that will lead to the end of secondary discourses. In logical sense, this will also mean that people in the future will only have a primary discourse. Meaning that they will only know how to speak with family members, and not knowing how to communicate with others in the outside world. On the other hand, there is also the existence of technology which can temporarily keep secondary discourses alive. There have not been any academic articles where scientists have conducted research on the rate at which secondary discourses are disappearing, but that does not debunk the idea of that this could negatively impact society in the future.

Mental Health

As a freshman college student, I realized that in high school we did not get mental health awareness week. But last month from March 8-12, the college sent out emails and created PowerPoints to portray how they were trying to help their students. It was a good effort to show that the Board of Education knew that their students were facing hard times during their studies. On April 20, 2020, there was a study conducted on 584 participants ranging from the ages of 14-35. The purpose of this experiment was to understand the mental health of young people a couple weeks after there was worldwide news of the pandemic (Leilei et al). The results came out to show that about 40.4% of the participants had psychological problems, and about 14.4% had PTSD symptoms (Leilei et al). As with every experiment, we cannot use this small substratum of data to represent every young person living within the United States. For example, during the first 2 weeks of hearing about the pandemic I did not feel any sort of trauma or stress until after a couple months of being in lockdown. Correlation does not mean causation . This sentence usually shows up in academic areas of statistics or math generally. Just because this experiment has shown that COVID-19 has negatively affected the mental health of young people does not mean causation. However, with the assistance of more studies being conducted over a long period of time it will eventually justify the prediction.

There was another study conducted on the mental health of young people during the pandemic, however this time it was with college students from April 25 to May 8. So, this study was conducted around the same time with article from Leilei Liang, but with a different population of participants. There was a total of 530 college students who responded to their survey, and on average about 80% of the respondents knew of how the virus was transmitted and the importance of social distancing (Baloran). Within the study, it was found that even though students responded with having anxiety there was still several students who were able to deal with their own anxiety.

From the experiments with Leilei Liang and Erick Baloran, the only difference is that population that was used. One study had a general group of young people, and the other had students from two local colleges in the Philippines. I feel that both experiments have enough similarities to be compared with each other and I can see that I am somewhat correct in my assumption. Both were conducted at the same time, had a similar size in participants, conducted on a similar age group, and reporting on the same conclusions. These similarities can be used to support my idea of the pandemic students academically and mentally. My own research experiment, the loss of Gee’s secondary discourses, and the decline of the mental health of young people and eventually society can all be supported by these two scholarly articles. With that in mind, COVID-19 has been affecting the mental health of young people and could potentially force society to lose their ability of talking with others outside of their family. Online learning has been the main source of continuing academics, but to say that it is keeping students learning and motivated is not correct as seen from their mental health. There is only so much that technology can do in order to preserve the face-to-face communication before society reaches its breaking point.

Research Question Two

How do teachers incorporate the use of blackboard collaborate and student emails to relay information about the course? From my first research question, we found that COVID-19 affected the mental health of young people and forced them to only have primary discourses. These issues in return affect how students communicate with their teachers as seen from how students nowadays do not turn on their cameras in online classes. I have experienced this firsthand where in my biology class that only meets once a week. There are roughly 100-110 students in my section, and only about 7 students on average are willing to turn on their cameras. From a professor’s viewpoint on this situation, I would assume that they would be frustrated and confused with the sudden change of scenery. Teaching in front of a class face-to-face is very different to teaching a list of names that are blank staring back at you.

In the article, “ Teachers’ Covid-19 awareness, distance learning education experiences and perceptions towards institutional readiness and challenges ” the study concluded that teachers were fully aware of how the pandemic would affect classrooms. However, one big issue that comes to mind is colleges and universities who are asking for thousands of dollars in return for online schooling. Boards of education across the country have still not been able to create a solution that makes the life of their students easier. Their response to COVID-19 was to train teachers to be fluent in online learning education (Alea et al). From this, teachers will create recorded lectures, notes, and online homework assignments from prepaid textbooks. Colleges with Blackboard Collaborate have an auto messenger that sends students assignments or lectures that have not been finished yet. Professors want to keep their students on top of things, so they try to always notify their students of work that is to be completed soon. They are also trying to be innovative so that they can keep the attention of their students and to promote and enjoyable work environment at home (Suryaman, Maman, et al).

As a college student, checking your email is part of the daily routine because a professor could have an issue with the class, or wants to give information on the coming days. For me, having Blackboard Collaborate remind me of assignments is very helpful because even though I finished the assignments early it tells me that I am keeping up with my work. However, not many students can just casually do their work whenever they would like without and issues.

In the article, “ Online teaching-learning in higher education during lockdown period of COVID-19 pandemic ” the study goes into detail about the relationship between teachers and students on online teaching. Overall, there seemed to be no issue within the data but there was an issue between students and technology. Students from different socio-economic backgrounds were seen to be having more trouble with keeping up with school as they do not meet the technological requirements (Mishra el al). This article also noted that professors were sending out weekly emails in order to keep their students informed. I would say that it is important for teachers and professors to be persistent in their emails and messages to students to keep us at ease. I am still only a freshman college student and I imagined myself to be on campus and talking with my peers. However, I am left with a computer screen with a list of names and a professor who is lecturing from past notes.

These 2 scholarly articles allowed me to realize the importance of teachers to be prepared and ready to compromises. From emails to a full access online system that allows students to work on homework and to obtain lectures/notes. With an additional article from 3 researchers, they found that technology is one of the many factors that ensures a successful transition into online learning (Almaiah et al). A similarity that all 3 articles share is that they heavily rely upon the strength of technology to recreate a classroom environment. So far, technology has been doing well enough to keep students on track with their academics. However, at the same time pushing students back because of whether they come from different socio-economic backgrounds or rural or urban communities. Even if every student was able to have sufficient access the internet, there is nothing that says servers may crash or malfunctions when being used. Not usually, but there will be students who will face issues with their technology, and they will have to tell their teacher/professor.

For example, there is nothing in a college syllabus that protects and individual who will occasionally not be able to use their technology. Their technological constraints, along with their teachers having feedback and not knowing how to handle the technology can be a huge setback (Muthuprasad et al). Some might say to move to a different location for a better connection, however in the period we are in that is not practical. If this individual also does not have enough money to afford a new laptop, then I can assume this will cause a lot of stress for them. In the end, technology plays a huge role in whether students will succeed or fail in keeping up with their academics.

After answering both research questions, COVID-19 has been seen to have a negative impact on both students and teachers. From the multiple scholarly articles and conducting my own experiment, this is enough evidence to prove how heavily influenced communication is by technology, and how schools are not readily prepared for such a change. With how advanced technology has become, there is only so much that it can do before it all depends on how students and teachers use it to keep up with higher levels of education. With mental health and secondary discourses being affected, students are also required to fully rely upon technology in order to succeed for their own benefit. I would say that both students and teachers are required to work hard in order to keep up with the curriculum they are given. From my evidence and research questions I hope that I bring to light at how classrooms have changed due to the existence of COVID-19. This is a time where mistakes should be allowed, and teachers along with students should be ready to make compromises.

Works Cited

Alea, Lapada Aris, et al. “Teachers’ Covid-19 awareness, distance learning education experiences and perceptions towards institutional readiness and challenges.” International Journal of Learning, Teaching and Educational Research 19.6 (2020): 127-144. Accessed March 16, 2021.

Almaiah, Mohammed Amin, Ahmad Al-Khasawneh, and Ahmad Althunibat. “Exploring the critical challenges and factors influencing the E-learning system usage during COVID-19 pandemic.” Education and Information Technologies 25 (2020): 5261-5280. Accessed March 16, 2021.

Baloran, Erick T. “Knowledge, attitudes, anxiety, and coping strategies of students during COVID-19 pandemic.” Journal of Loss and Trauma 25.8 (2020): 635-642. Accessed March 16, 2021.

Gee, James Paul. “What is literacy.” Negotiating academic literacies: Teaching and learning   across languages and cultures (1998): 18-25. Accessed February 9, 2021.

Kuhfeld, Megan, et al. “Projecting the potential impact of COVID-19 school closures on academic achievement.” Educational Researcher 49.8 (2020): 549-565. Accessed March 16, 2021.

Liang, Leilei, et al. “The effect of COVID-19 on youth mental health.” Psychiatric quarterly 91.3 (2020): 841-852. Accessed March 16, 2021.

Mishra, Lokanath, Tushar Gupta, and Abha Shree. “Online teaching-learning in higher education during lockdown period of COVID-19 pandemic.” International Journal of Educational   Research Open 1 (2020): 100012. Accessed March 16, 2021.

Muthuprasad, T., et al. “Students’ perception and preference for online education in India during COVID-19 pandemic.” Social Sciences & Humanities Open 3.1 (2021): 100101. Accessed March 16, 2021.

Suryaman, Maman, et al. “COVID-19 pandemic and home online learning system: Does it affect the quality of pharmacy school learning?.” Syst. Rev. Pharm 11 (2020): 524-530. Accessed March 16, 2021.

Van Lancker, Wim, and Zachary Parolin. “COVID-19, school closures, and child poverty: a social crisis in the making.” The Lancet Public Health 5.5 (2020): e243-e244. Accessed March 16, 2021.

Understanding Literacy in Our Lives by Max is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.

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Integrating Technology and Literacy

A middle school language arts educator shares his favorite digital tools for text and video annotations, teacher feedback, and formative assessment.

Someone's forearm is in the shot, and their index finger is touching a laptop screen, pointing at a frame within a video editing software. Another person's head is in the shot, blurred, looking at the computer screen.

When teaching with digital natives in a digital world, one question facing many educators revolves around integrating technology to help facilitate learning: How do you work technology into the pedagogy, instead of just using something cool? That task can be especially daunting in language arts literacy classrooms where reading and writing skill development is the crux of daily lessons. However, as 1:1 technology initiatives roll out, integrating technology into the classroom is our reality.

With hundreds of sites, apps, Chrome extensions, and platforms available, choosing the right ones can seem overwhelming. As an eighth-grade language arts teacher, I've experienced this myself. Following are four tools that can help provide immediate formative assessment data as well as top-of-the-rotation feedback to help students develop personal learning goals.

If, like my school, you're in a "Chromebook District," these suggested tools will work well because all integrate perfectly when you sign in with your Google ID, limiting the need for multiple passwords. This saves a lot of student confusion, too.

1. Online Annotations via Scrible

Annotating texts is an evidence-based literacy strategy to help students understand and navigate complex texts, and a large part of my district's schoolwide literacy initiative. Annotating digitally as part of our 1:1 Chromebook program was something that I wanted to incorporate, and Scrible has proved to be a valuable tool for my students.

Registering is quick and free, whether via Google, Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo, or your own email account. Upon registration, users should select an educator account, which allows them to create libraries where they save the annotation for future reference. The one drawback is that Scrible doesn't yet support .PDF files. Among the highlights and benefits:

  • Students can work collaboratively on the same file.
  • Students and teachers can share annotations with each other.
  • Teachers can use annotations as formative assessment and comment back to students, allowing for immediate feedback.
  • Users can share annotations online via Facebook or Twitter.
  • With the sharing option, teachers can share any in-class modeling with students who were absent.
  • Annotating digitally allows for greater student choice as students find their own online texts.
  • There is a Google Chrome extension that you can add to your toolbar.

2. Video Annotations via VideoAnt

Digital literacy and using video as "texts" can create a myriad of issues for students who don't take effective notes. Developed by the University of Minnesota, VideoAnt allows users to annotate videos and save them to their own virtual "ant farm." The benefits:

  • Users can timestamp important parts of a video, allowing for easy access later.
  • Users can type notes with the timestamp, creating a quasi two-column note-taking tool.
  • Users can share video annotations with others.

3. Feedback via Kaizena Shortcut

Formerly known as Kaizena mini, Kaizena Shortcut is a Google extension that allows teachers to provide actionable, detailed feedback in a streamlined fashion. Typing out feedback in Google Docs comments boxes can get cumbersome. Even limiting feedback to three or four items takes time. Also, what happens when you need to address grammar errors? With Kaizena, teachers and students can:

  • Provide feedback in the form of typed comments.
  • Record comments verbally so that students can hear their teacher's voice on playback.
  • Insert links to grammar lessons.

The last bullet point is clutch for teachers who tire of providing feedback about the same grammar errors over and over. For example, many of my students commit that cardinal sin known as the comma splice. In Kaizena, I created a lesson on comma splices in which I typed a detailed explanation of what they are and how to correct them, as well as a link to a YouTube video about them. This lets teachers provide effective feedback that appeals to students with diverse learning styles. The drawback is that you have to manually create the lessons for each topic. But once you have them, the work is done, allowing you to differentiate grammar lessons based on individual students' errors.

4. Formative Assessments via EDPuzzle

Teachers of language arts and all content areas try to differentiate learning to reach a diverse group of learners by using video clips. But how do you know if students are really focusing and engaging in active learning during videos? EDPuzzle helps collect formative data that can drive instruction.

Users simply register for an account and then create classes. Each class gets its own code that students use for joining. Teachers can search and upload videos from YouTube, TED-Ed, Vimeo, KhanAcademy, and other sites. Then you create a lesson by embedding questions in the video that provides immediate formative data and allows you to check for understanding. Questions can be multiple-choice or open-ended.

I've used this when differentiating lessons, and it has worked flawlessly. For example, when working with theme, I broke the lesson into three levels. The first was for a basic understanding of the definition of theme. The second was for analyzing text to explain theme. The third focused on the crafts that writers use to create a theme. Students came in and completed an entrance slip via Socrative. I then used the data to determine where they were in the process of learning about theme, and assigned them appropriate videos in EDPuzzle.

As students completed the videos, I was able to check for understanding based on the data from their completed questions before moving them to the next level. I could also provide real-time feedback to the questions, explaining concepts further if needed.

While there are hundreds of technology tools out there to help language arts teachers, these four have helped me enhance my use of formative data and feedback to further student achievement in a diverse and differentiated classroom.

What technology tools work well in your language arts class?

Home — Essay Samples — Information Science and Technology — Technology in Education — How Technology Encourages Literacy And Education


How Technology Encourages Literacy and Education

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Published: May 19, 2020

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essay about technology literacy

Technological Literacy and Technical Fluency Essay

The difference between the two concepts is that technological literacy is the ability to use modern devices. In contrast, technical fluency consists of understanding technologies’ development and their impact on society. It is vital to let students use the technologies in a learning process as they develop themselves and understand how essential a technological breakthrough is. Modern school education does not fully allow students to become technologically fluent. It is necessary to allow students to express themselves more by performing various projects and assignments using modern technologies.

Nathan shows the difference between the two concepts by drawing a parallel with the study and fluency of the Spanish language. He argues that teachers are not required to own technology at the highest level. They should strive to learn this together with students and be attentive to them. Stimulate their technological development and participate in all aspects of the student’s path to fluency in technology. There are ways to promote students’ mastery of technology, and one of them is to instill in students a desire to learn. Teachers need to find practical ways to encourage fluency in technology in the learning environment.

Tyler argues that technological literacy is the ability to use technology, while fluency in technology is a deep understanding of it and the future it brings to society. Teachers want students to be fluent in technology and be curious about learning. Curiosity gives motivation, which adds chances for mastering the topic. Moreover, Tyler describes six skills: identification, internalization, feedback, diagnosis, invention, and mindfulness. He demonstrates practical examples of each skill and argues that their application is vital to help the student master technology. Teachers do not allow students to master technology. He suggests creating after-school clubs where children could enroll to improve their skills in technology.

Carrie believes that technology has become a part of everyone’s daily life, and people should know how to interact with them genuinely. Educators should allow students to interact with technology correctly and ensure that they become innovators in the future. Teachers should develop learning strategies that motivate students to be curious about finding and learning information independently. With the help of STEM learning, students have the opportunity to demonstrate the results of their knowledge. It is necessary to make an educational reform that will discard the old standards of lessons and affirm students’ curiosity, innovation, and individual achievements.

Lindsey argues that a technologically literate person just understands what technology is and how to use it. Fluency in technology is the ability to explore the relationship between people and computers and understand how the impact of technology on society. Teachers need to help students understand how they will use and develop what they are learning and how it will be applicable in their future careers. Moreover, parents should help teachers by gathering knowledge, understanding, and involvement. Lindsey offers teachers to become coaches, and students to become their partners for more productive learning.

Holly claims that technology literacy is the ability to use technology and understand how they work, while technology fluency is knowing how and when to use it. Parents should complete the following four steps: recognition, attention evaluation, and participation. She states that parents should help students develop a sense of wonder and curiosity that makes them want to learn. For example, gamification stimulates motivation by focusing on rewards. Besides, she thinks that teachers allow students to be fluent in technology through technology in the classroom and to complete assignments at home.

Amanda states that the difference between the two skill levels comes down to the level of experience. Teachers should adapt their teaching to the students’ culture, saturated with technological expertise, and use technologies as a motivator. Platforms such as IReady and MOOC allow students to try out technologies professionally, which increases their desire to use them in the future. The job of educators is to promote technological capabilities and eliminate barriers that students may encounter.

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IvyPanda. (2023, March 18). Technological Literacy and Technical Fluency. https://ivypanda.com/essays/technological-literacy-and-technical-fluency/

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  • Introduction to "Managing for Quality" by Evans & Lindsey
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  • Reading Fluency: Methods of Improvement
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Essay on Digital Literacy

Students are often asked to write an essay on Digital Literacy in their schools and colleges. And if you’re also looking for the same, we have created 100-word, 250-word, and 500-word essays on the topic.

Let’s take a look…

100 Words Essay on Digital Literacy

Understanding digital literacy.

Digital Literacy is knowing how to use digital devices like computers, tablets, and smartphones. It’s about understanding the internet and social media. It’s important because we live in a digital world. We use digital tools for school, work, and fun.

Why is Digital Literacy Important?

Digital Literacy helps us learn and communicate. It helps us find information quickly and easily. It can also keep us safe online. We need to know how to protect our personal information and avoid dangerous sites.

How Can We Improve Digital Literacy?

We can improve Digital Literacy by learning. Schools and libraries often have classes. We can also learn from friends or family. Practice is important too. The more we use digital tools, the better we get.

Challenges of Digital Literacy

Sometimes, Digital Literacy can be hard. Not everyone has access to digital tools. Some people might find them difficult to use. But with time and patience, we can overcome these challenges.

In conclusion, Digital Literacy is a vital skill in today’s world. It helps us learn, communicate, and stay safe online. Despite challenges, we can improve our skills with learning and practice.

250 Words Essay on Digital Literacy

What is digital literacy.

Digital literacy is the ability to use digital devices like computers, smartphones, and tablets. It’s about knowing how to search for information online, use social media, send emails, and protect your personal information. It’s a bit like learning to read and write, but with technology.

In today’s world, technology is everywhere. We use it for school, work, and even fun. Being digitally literate helps you do all these things easily. It also helps you stay safe online. For example, knowing how to spot a scam email can protect you from losing money or personal information.

Parts of Digital Literacy

Digital literacy has many parts. One part is technical skills, like knowing how to use a keyboard or mouse. Another part is understanding how to find and use information online. This could mean using a search engine, reading a blog post, or watching a video tutorial.

Learning Digital Literacy

You can learn digital literacy at school, at home, or even by yourself. Many schools teach students how to use technology safely and effectively. Parents can also help by showing their kids how to use devices and the internet responsibly.

The Future of Digital Literacy

As technology keeps changing, digital literacy will also change. It will be more important than ever to keep learning new skills. This will help us keep up with the digital world and make the most of the opportunities it offers.

In conclusion, digital literacy is a key skill for the modern world. It helps us use technology safely and effectively, and it will only become more important in the future.

500 Words Essay on Digital Literacy

Digital literacy is the ability to use digital technology, such as computers, smartphones, and the internet. It includes knowing how to find information online, how to use social media, and how to stay safe on the internet. Just like we need to know how to read and write in school, we also need to learn digital literacy in today’s world.

Digital literacy is important because we use technology every day. We use it for schoolwork, to talk to our friends, and even for fun. If we do not know how to use technology safely and effectively, we could get into trouble. For example, we might accidentally share personal information online, which can be dangerous. Or we might have trouble completing school assignments if we do not know how to use the internet for research.

Digital literacy is not just about knowing how to use a computer. It has many parts. Here are a few:

1. Technical skills: This includes knowing how to use different devices, like laptops, tablets, and smartphones. It also includes knowing how to use different types of software, like word processors and web browsers.

2. Information skills: This involves knowing how to find and evaluate information online. Not everything on the internet is true, so it is important to know how to tell the difference between reliable and unreliable sources.

3. Safety skills: This includes knowing how to protect yourself online. This means understanding how to create strong passwords, how to avoid scams, and how to protect your personal information.

Improving Digital Literacy

There are many ways to improve digital literacy. Schools often teach students how to use technology and the internet. There are also many online resources that can help. These include tutorials, videos, and websites that explain how to use different technologies. It is important to practice these skills regularly, just like any other skill.

In conclusion, digital literacy is a vital skill in today’s world. It involves understanding how to use technology, how to find and evaluate information online, and how to stay safe on the internet. By improving our digital literacy, we can become more confident and capable users of technology.

That’s it! I hope the essay helped you.

If you’re looking for more, here are essays on other interesting topics:

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Book cover

Encyclopedia of Education and Information Technologies pp 1104–1116 Cite as

Literacy and Technology

  • Judith E. Riddell 2  
  • Reference work entry
  • First Online: 01 January 2020

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Cognitive flexibility ; Cognitive load theory ; Constructively responsive reading ; Knowledge gap theory ; Multiliteracies ; Multiple documents literacy ; New literacy studies


Literacy and technology is a contested and controversial field for a number of disparate reasons. There are a number of different definitions of literacy and these are often seen as perspectives from specific domains, such as cognitive psychology or sociology or anthropology. Views in relation to technology are no less contested and are often polarized in terms of technological determinism and technological evangelism. Various strands of contention must be understood to clearly appreciate the issues surrounding literacy and technology through the widest lens.

A Short History of Literacy and Technology

Many recognize technology in relation to the rise of digital practices, but those in the realm of media ecology would broaden the field significantly and point to technology as having a much longer...

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Riddell, J.E. (2020). Literacy and Technology. In: Tatnall, A. (eds) Encyclopedia of Education and Information Technologies. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-10576-1_97

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A systematic review on digital literacy

Hasan tinmaz.

1 AI & Big Data Department, Endicott College of International Studies, Woosong University, Daejeon, South Korea

Yoo-Taek Lee

2 Endicott College of International Studies, Woosong University, Daejeon, South Korea

Mina Fanea-Ivanovici

3 Department of Economics and Economic Policies, Bucharest University of Economic Studies, Bucharest, Romania

Hasnan Baber

4 Abu Dhabi School of Management, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

Associated Data

The authors present the articles used for the study in “ Appendix A ”.

The purpose of this study is to discover the main themes and categories of the research studies regarding digital literacy. To serve this purpose, the databases of WoS/Clarivate Analytics, Proquest Central, Emerald Management Journals, Jstor Business College Collections and Scopus/Elsevier were searched with four keyword-combinations and final forty-three articles were included in the dataset. The researchers applied a systematic literature review method to the dataset. The preliminary findings demonstrated that there is a growing prevalence of digital literacy articles starting from the year 2013. The dominant research methodology of the reviewed articles is qualitative. The four major themes revealed from the qualitative content analysis are: digital literacy, digital competencies, digital skills and digital thinking. Under each theme, the categories and their frequencies are analysed. Recommendations for further research and for real life implementations are generated.


The extant literature on digital literacy, skills and competencies is rich in definitions and classifications, but there is still no consensus on the larger themes and subsumed themes categories. (Heitin, 2016 ). To exemplify, existing inventories of Internet skills suffer from ‘incompleteness and over-simplification, conceptual ambiguity’ (van Deursen et al., 2015 ), and Internet skills are only a part of digital skills. While there is already a plethora of research in this field, this research paper hereby aims to provide a general framework of digital areas and themes that can best describe digital (cap)abilities in the novel context of Industry 4.0 and the accelerated pandemic-triggered digitalisation. The areas and themes can represent the starting point for drafting a contemporary digital literacy framework.

Sousa and Rocha ( 2019 ) explained that there is a stake of digital skills for disruptive digital business, and they connect it to the latest developments, such as the Internet of Things (IoT), cloud technology, big data, artificial intelligence, and robotics. The topic is even more important given the large disparities in digital literacy across regions (Tinmaz et al., 2022 ). More precisely, digital inequalities encompass skills, along with access, usage and self-perceptions. These inequalities need to be addressed, as they are credited with a ‘potential to shape life chances in multiple ways’ (Robinson et al., 2015 ), e.g., academic performance, labour market competitiveness, health, civic and political participation. Steps have been successfully taken to address physical access gaps, but skills gaps are still looming (Van Deursen & Van Dijk, 2010a ). Moreover, digital inequalities have grown larger due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and they influenced the very state of health of the most vulnerable categories of population or their employability in a time when digital skills are required (Baber et al., 2022 ; Beaunoyer, Dupéré & Guitton, 2020 ).

The systematic review the researchers propose is a useful updated instrument of classification and inventory for digital literacy. Considering the latest developments in the economy and in line with current digitalisation needs, digitally literate population may assist policymakers in various fields, e.g., education, administration, healthcare system, and managers of companies and other concerned organisations that need to stay competitive and to employ competitive workforce. Therefore, it is indispensably vital to comprehend the big picture of digital literacy related research.

Literature review

Since the advent of Digital Literacy, scholars have been concerned with identifying and classifying the various (cap)abilities related to its operation. Using the most cited academic papers in this stream of research, several classifications of digital-related literacies, competencies, and skills emerged.

Digital literacies

Digital literacy, which is one of the challenges of integration of technology in academic courses (Blau, Shamir-Inbal & Avdiel, 2020 ), has been defined in the current literature as the competencies and skills required for navigating a fragmented and complex information ecosystem (Eshet, 2004 ). A ‘Digital Literacy Framework’ was designed by Eshet-Alkalai ( 2012 ), comprising six categories: (a) photo-visual thinking (understanding and using visual information); (b) real-time thinking (simultaneously processing a variety of stimuli); (c) information thinking (evaluating and combining information from multiple digital sources); (d) branching thinking (navigating in non-linear hyper-media environments); (e) reproduction thinking (creating outcomes using technological tools by designing new content or remixing existing digital content); (f) social-emotional thinking (understanding and applying cyberspace rules). According to Heitin ( 2016 ), digital literacy groups the following clusters: (a) finding and consuming digital content; (b) creating digital content; (c) communicating or sharing digital content. Hence, the literature describes the digital literacy in many ways by associating a set of various technical and non-technical elements.

Digital competencies

The Digital Competence Framework for Citizens (DigComp 2.1.), the most recent framework proposed by the European Union, which is currently under review and undergoing an updating process, contains five competency areas: (a) information and data literacy, (b) communication and collaboration, (c) digital content creation, (d) safety, and (e) problem solving (Carretero, Vuorikari & Punie, 2017 ). Digital competency had previously been described in a technical fashion by Ferrari ( 2012 ) as a set comprising information skills, communication skills, content creation skills, safety skills, and problem-solving skills, which later outlined the areas of competence in DigComp 2.1, too.

Digital skills

Ng ( 2012 ) pointed out the following three categories of digital skills: (a) technological (using technological tools); (b) cognitive (thinking critically when managing information); (c) social (communicating and socialising). A set of Internet skill was suggested by Van Deursen and Van Dijk ( 2009 , 2010b ), which contains: (a) operational skills (basic skills in using internet technology), (b) formal Internet skills (navigation and orientation skills); (c) information Internet skills (fulfilling information needs), and (d) strategic Internet skills (using the internet to reach goals). In 2014, the same authors added communication and content creation skills to the initial framework (van Dijk & van Deursen). Similarly, Helsper and Eynon ( 2013 ) put forward a set of four digital skills: technical, social, critical, and creative skills. Furthermore, van Deursen et al. ( 2015 ) built a set of items and factors to measure Internet skills: operational, information navigation, social, creative, mobile. More recent literature (vaan Laar et al., 2017 ) divides digital skills into seven core categories: technical, information management, communication, collaboration, creativity, critical thinking, and problem solving.

It is worth mentioning that the various methodologies used to classify digital literacy are overlapping or non-exhaustive, which confirms the conceptual ambiguity mentioned by van Deursen et al. ( 2015 ).

Digital thinking

Thinking skills (along with digital skills) have been acknowledged to be a significant element of digital literacy in the educational process context (Ferrari, 2012 ). In fact, critical thinking, creativity, and innovation are at the very core of DigComp. Information and Communication Technology as a support for thinking is a learning objective in any school curriculum. In the same vein, analytical thinking and interdisciplinary thinking, which help solve problems, are yet other concerns of educators in the Industry 4.0 (Ozkan-Ozen & Kazancoglu, 2021 ).

However, we have recently witnessed a shift of focus from learning how to use information and communication technologies to using it while staying safe in the cyber-environment and being aware of alternative facts. Digital thinking would encompass identifying fake news, misinformation, and echo chambers (Sulzer, 2018 ). Not least important, concern about cybersecurity has grown especially in times of political, social or economic turmoil, such as the elections or the Covid-19 crisis (Sulzer, 2018 ; Puig, Blanco-Anaya & Perez-Maceira, 2021 ).

Ultimately, this systematic review paper focuses on the following major research questions as follows:

  • Research question 1: What is the yearly distribution of digital literacy related papers?
  • Research question 2: What are the research methods for digital literacy related papers?
  • Research question 3: What are the main themes in digital literacy related papers?
  • Research question 4: What are the concentrated categories (under revealed main themes) in digital literacy related papers?

This study employed the systematic review method where the authors scrutinized the existing literature around the major research question of digital literacy. As Uman ( 2011 ) pointed, in systematic literature review, the findings of the earlier research are examined for the identification of consistent and repetitive themes. The systematic review method differs from literature review with its well managed and highly organized qualitative scrutiny processes where researchers tend to cover less materials from fewer number of databases to write their literature review (Kowalczyk & Truluck, 2013 ; Robinson & Lowe, 2015 ).

Data collection

To address major research objectives, the following five important databases are selected due to their digital literacy focused research dominance: 1. WoS/Clarivate Analytics, 2. Proquest Central; 3. Emerald Management Journals; 4. Jstor Business College Collections; 5. Scopus/Elsevier.

The search was made in the second half of June 2021, in abstract and key words written in English language. We only kept research articles and book chapters (herein referred to as papers). Our purpose was to identify a set of digital literacy areas, or an inventory of such areas and topics. To serve that purpose, systematic review was utilized with the following synonym key words for the search: ‘digital literacy’, ‘digital skills’, ‘digital competence’ and ‘digital fluency’, to find the mainstream literature dealing with the topic. These key words were unfolded as a result of the consultation with the subject matter experts (two board members from Korean Digital Literacy Association and two professors from technology studies department). Below are the four key word combinations used in the search: “Digital literacy AND systematic review”, “Digital skills AND systematic review”, “Digital competence AND systematic review”, and “Digital fluency AND systematic review”.

A sequential systematic search was made in the five databases mentioned above. Thus, from one database to another, duplicate papers were manually excluded in a cascade manner to extract only unique results and to make the research smoother to conduct. At this stage, we kept 47 papers. Further exclusion criteria were applied. Thus, only full-text items written in English were selected, and in doing so, three papers were excluded (no full text available), and one other paper was excluded because it was not written in English, but in Spanish. Therefore, we investigated a total number of 43 papers, as shown in Table ​ Table1. 1 . “ Appendix A ” shows the list of these papers with full references.

Number of papers identified sequentially after applying all inclusion and exclusion criteria

Data analysis

The 43 papers selected after the application of the inclusion and exclusion criteria, respectively, were reviewed the materials independently by two researchers who were from two different countries. The researchers identified all topics pertaining to digital literacy, as they appeared in the papers. Next, a third researcher independently analysed these findings by excluded duplicates A qualitative content analysis was manually performed by calculating the frequency of major themes in all papers, where the raw data was compared and contrasted (Fraenkel et al., 2012 ). All three reviewers independently list the words and how the context in which they appeared and then the three reviewers collectively decided for how it should be categorized. Lastly, it is vital to remind that literature review of this article was written after the identification of the themes appeared as a result of our qualitative analyses. Therefore, the authors decided to shape the literature review structure based on the themes.

As an answer to the first research question (the yearly distribution of digital literacy related papers), Fig.  1 demonstrates the yearly distribution of digital literacy related papers. It is seen that there is an increasing trend about the digital literacy papers.

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Yearly distribution of digital literacy related papers

Research question number two (The research methods for digital literacy related papers) concentrates on what research methods are employed for these digital literacy related papers. As Fig.  2 shows, most of the papers were using the qualitative method. Not stated refers to book chapters.

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Object name is 40561_2022_204_Fig2_HTML.jpg

Research methods used in the reviewed articles

When forty-three articles were analysed for the main themes as in research question number three (The main themes in digital literacy related papers), the overall findings were categorized around four major themes: (i) literacies, (ii) competencies, (iii) skills, and (iv) thinking. Under every major theme, the categories were listed and explained as in research question number four (The concentrated categories (under revealed main themes) in digital literacy related papers).

The authors utilized an overt categorization for the depiction of these major themes. For example, when the ‘creativity’ was labelled as a skill, the authors also categorized it under the ‘skills’ theme. Similarly, when ‘creativity’ was mentioned as a competency, the authors listed it under the ‘competencies’ theme. Therefore, it is possible to recognize the same finding under different major themes.

Major theme 1: literacies

Digital literacy being the major concern of this paper was observed to be blatantly mentioned in five papers out forty-three. One of these articles described digital literacy as the human proficiencies to live, learn and work in the current digital society. In addition to these five articles, two additional papers used the same term as ‘critical digital literacy’ by describing it as a person’s or a society’s accessibility and assessment level interaction with digital technologies to utilize and/or create information. Table ​ Table2 2 summarizes the major categories under ‘Literacies’ major theme.

Categories (more than one occurrence) under 'literacies' major theme

Computer literacy, media literacy and cultural literacy were the second most common literacy (n = 5). One of the article branches computer literacy as tool (detailing with software and hardware uses) and resource (focusing on information processing capacity of a computer) literacies. Cultural literacy was emphasized as a vital element for functioning in an intercultural team on a digital project.

Disciplinary literacy (n = 4) was referring to utilizing different computer programs (n = 2) or technical gadgets (n = 2) with a specific emphasis on required cognitive, affective and psychomotor skills to be able to work in any digital context (n = 3), serving for the using (n = 2), creating and applying (n = 2) digital literacy in real life.

Data literacy, technology literacy and multiliteracy were the third frequent categories (n = 3). The ‘multiliteracy’ was referring to the innate nature of digital technologies, which have been infused into many aspects of human lives.

Last but not least, Internet literacy, mobile literacy, web literacy, new literacy, personal literacy and research literacy were discussed in forty-three article findings. Web literacy was focusing on being able to connect with people on the web (n = 2), discover the web content (especially the navigation on a hyper-textual platform), and learn web related skills through practical web experiences. Personal literacy was highlighting digital identity management. Research literacy was not only concentrating on conducting scientific research ability but also finding available scholarship online.

Twenty-four other categories are unfolded from the results sections of forty-three articles. Table ​ Table3 3 presents the list of these other literacies where the authors sorted the categories in an ascending alphabetical order without any other sorting criterion. Primarily, search, tagging, filtering and attention literacies were mainly underlining their roles in information processing. Furthermore, social-structural literacy was indicated as the recognition of the social circumstances and generation of information. Another information-related literacy was pointed as publishing literacy, which is the ability to disseminate information via different digital channels.

Other mentioned categories (n = 1)

While above listed personal literacy was referring to digital identity management, network literacy was explained as someone’s social networking ability to manage the digital relationship with other people. Additionally, participatory literacy was defined as the necessary abilities to join an online team working on online content production.

Emerging technology literacy was stipulated as an essential ability to recognize and appreciate the most recent and innovative technologies in along with smart choices related to these technologies. Additionally, the critical literacy was added as an ability to make smart judgements on the cost benefit analysis of these recent technologies.

Last of all, basic, intermediate, and advanced digital assessment literacies were specified for educational institutions that are planning to integrate various digital tools to conduct instructional assessments in their bodies.

Major theme 2: competencies

The second major theme was revealed as competencies. The authors directly categorized the findings that are specified with the word of competency. Table ​ Table4 4 summarizes the entire category set for the competencies major theme.

Categories under 'competencies' major theme

The most common category was the ‘digital competence’ (n = 14) where one of the articles points to that category as ‘generic digital competence’ referring to someone’s creativity for multimedia development (video editing was emphasized). Under this broad category, the following sub-categories were associated:

  • Problem solving (n = 10)
  • Safety (n = 7)
  • Information processing (n = 5)
  • Content creation (n = 5)
  • Communication (n = 2)
  • Digital rights (n = 1)
  • Digital emotional intelligence (n = 1)
  • Digital teamwork (n = 1)
  • Big data utilization (n = 1)
  • Artificial Intelligence utilization (n = 1)
  • Virtual leadership (n = 1)
  • Self-disruption (in along with the pace of digitalization) (n = 1)

Like ‘digital competency’, five additional articles especially coined the term as ‘digital competence as a life skill’. Deeper analysis demonstrated the following points: social competences (n = 4), communication in mother tongue (n = 3) and foreign language (n = 2), entrepreneurship (n = 3), civic competence (n = 2), fundamental science (n = 1), technology (n = 1) and mathematics (n = 1) competences, learning to learn (n = 1) and self-initiative (n = 1).

Moreover, competencies were linked to workplace digital competencies in three articles and highlighted as significant for employability (n = 3) and ‘economic engagement’ (n = 3). Digital competencies were also detailed for leisure (n = 2) and communication (n = 2). Furthermore, two articles pointed digital competencies as an inter-cultural competency and one as a cross-cultural competency. Lastly, the ‘digital nativity’ (n = 1) was clarified as someone’s innate competency of being able to feel contented and satisfied with digital technologies.

Major theme 3: skills

The third major observed theme was ‘skills’, which was dominantly gathered around information literacy skills (n = 19) and information and communication technologies skills (n = 18). Table ​ Table5 5 demonstrates the categories with more than one occurrence.

Categories under 'skills' major theme

Table ​ Table6 6 summarizes the sub-categories of the two most frequent categories of ‘skills’ major theme. The information literacy skills noticeably concentrate on the steps of information processing; evaluation (n = 6), utilization (n = 4), finding (n = 3), locating (n = 2) information. Moreover, the importance of trial/error process, being a lifelong learner, feeling a need for information and so forth were evidently listed under this sub-category. On the other hand, ICT skills were grouped around cognitive and affective domains. For instance, while technical skills in general and use of social media, coding, multimedia, chat or emailing in specific were reported in cognitive domain, attitude, intention, and belief towards ICT were mentioned as the elements of affective domain.

Sub-categories under ‘information literacy’ and ‘ICT’ skills

Communication skills (n = 9) were multi-dimensional for different societies, cultures, and globalized contexts, requiring linguistic skills. Collaboration skills (n = 9) are also recurrently cited with an explicit emphasis for virtual platforms.

‘Ethics for digital environment’ encapsulated ethical use of information (n = 4) and different technologies (n = 2), knowing digital laws (n = 2) and responsibilities (n = 2) in along with digital rights and obligations (n = 1), having digital awareness (n = 1), following digital etiquettes (n = 1), treating other people with respect (n = 1) including no cyber-bullying (n = 1) and no stealing or damaging other people (n = 1).

‘Digital fluency’ involved digital access (n = 2) by using different software and hardware (n = 2) in online platforms (n = 1) or communication tools (n = 1) or within programming environments (n = 1). Digital fluency also underlined following recent technological advancements (n = 1) and knowledge (n = 1) including digital health and wellness (n = 1) dimension.

‘Social intelligence’ related to understanding digital culture (n = 1), the concept of digital exclusion (n = 1) and digital divide (n = 3). ‘Research skills’ were detailed with searching academic information (n = 3) on databases such as Web of Science and Scopus (n = 2) and their citation, summarization, and quotation (n = 2).

‘Digital teaching’ was described as a skill (n = 2) in Table ​ Table4 4 whereas it was also labelled as a competence (n = 1) as shown in Table ​ Table3. 3 . Similarly, while learning to learn (n = 1) was coined under competencies in Table ​ Table3, 3 , digital learning (n = 2, Table ​ Table4) 4 ) and life-long learning (n = 1, Table ​ Table5) 5 ) were stated as learning related skills. Moreover, learning was used with the following three terms: learning readiness (n = 1), self-paced learning (n = 1) and learning flexibility (n = 1).

Table ​ Table7 7 shows other categories listed below the ‘skills’ major theme. The list covers not only the software such as GIS, text mining, mapping, or bibliometric analysis programs but also the conceptual skills such as the fourth industrial revolution and information management.

Categories (one-time occurrence) under 'skills' major theme

Major theme 4: thinking

The last identified major theme was the different types of ‘thinking’. As Table ​ Table8 8 shows, ‘critical thinking’ was the most frequent thinking category (n = 4). Except computational thinking, the other categories were not detailed.

Categories under ‘thinking’ major theme

Computational thinking (n = 3) was associated with the general logic of how a computer works and sub-categorized into the following steps; construction of the problem (n = 3), abstraction (n = 1), disintegration of the problem (n = 2), data collection, (n = 2), data analysis (n = 2), algorithmic design (n = 2), parallelization & iteration (n = 1), automation (n = 1), generalization (n = 1), and evaluation (n = 2).

A transversal analysis of digital literacy categories reveals the following fields of digital literacy application:

  • Technological advancement (IT, ICT, Industry 4.0, IoT, text mining, GIS, bibliometric analysis, mapping data, technology, AI, big data)
  • Networking (Internet, web, connectivity, network, safety)
  • Information (media, news, communication)
  • Creative-cultural industries (culture, publishing, film, TV, leisure, content creation)
  • Academia (research, documentation, library)
  • Citizenship (participation, society, social intelligence, awareness, politics, rights, legal use, ethics)
  • Education (life skills, problem solving, teaching, learning, education, lifelong learning)
  • Professional life (work, teamwork, collaboration, economy, commerce, leadership, decision making)
  • Personal level (critical thinking, evaluation, analytical thinking, innovative thinking)

This systematic review on digital literacy concentrated on forty-three articles from the databases of WoS/Clarivate Analytics, Proquest Central, Emerald Management Journals, Jstor Business College Collections and Scopus/Elsevier. The initial results revealed that there is an increasing trend on digital literacy focused academic papers. Research work in digital literacy is critical in a context of disruptive digital business, and more recently, the pandemic-triggered accelerated digitalisation (Beaunoyer, Dupéré & Guitton, 2020 ; Sousa & Rocha 2019 ). Moreover, most of these papers were employing qualitative research methods. The raw data of these articles were analysed qualitatively using systematic literature review to reveal major themes and categories. Four major themes that appeared are: digital literacy, digital competencies, digital skills and thinking.

Whereas the mainstream literature describes digital literacy as a set of photo-visual, real-time, information, branching, reproduction and social-emotional thinking (Eshet-Alkalai, 2012 ) or as a set of precise specific operations, i.e., finding, consuming, creating, communicating and sharing digital content (Heitin, 2016 ), this study reveals that digital literacy revolves around and is in connection with the concepts of computer literacy, media literacy, cultural literacy or disciplinary literacy. In other words, the present systematic review indicates that digital literacy is far broader than specific tasks, englobing the entire sphere of computer operation and media use in a cultural context.

The digital competence yardstick, DigComp (Carretero, Vuorikari & Punie, 2017 ) suggests that the main digital competencies cover information and data literacy, communication and collaboration, digital content creation, safety, and problem solving. Similarly, the findings of this research place digital competencies in relation to problem solving, safety, information processing, content creation and communication. Therefore, the findings of the systematic literature review are, to a large extent, in line with the existing framework used in the European Union.

The investigation of the main keywords associated with digital skills has revealed that information literacy, ICT, communication, collaboration, digital content creation, research and decision-making skill are the most representative. In a structured way, the existing literature groups these skills in technological, cognitive, and social (Ng, 2012 ) or, more extensively, into operational, formal, information Internet, strategic, communication and content creation (van Dijk & van Deursen, 2014 ). In time, the literature has become richer in frameworks, and prolific authors have improved their results. As such, more recent research (vaan Laar et al., 2017 ) use the following categories: technical, information management, communication, collaboration, creativity, critical thinking, and problem solving.

Whereas digital thinking was observed to be mostly related with critical thinking and computational thinking, DigComp connects it with critical thinking, creativity, and innovation, on the one hand, and researchers highlight fake news, misinformation, cybersecurity, and echo chambers as exponents of digital thinking, on the other hand (Sulzer, 2018 ; Puig, Blanco-Anaya & Perez-Maceira, 2021 ).

This systematic review research study looks ahead to offer an initial step and guideline for the development of a more contemporary digital literacy framework including digital literacy major themes and factors. The researchers provide the following recommendations for both researchers and practitioners.

Recommendations for prospective research

By considering the major qualitative research trend, it seems apparent that more quantitative research-oriented studies are needed. Although it requires more effort and time, mixed method studies will help understand digital literacy holistically.

As digital literacy is an umbrella term for many different technologies, specific case studies need be designed, such as digital literacy for artificial intelligence or digital literacy for drones’ usage.

Digital literacy affects different areas of human lives, such as education, business, health, governance, and so forth. Therefore, different case studies could be carried out for each of these unique dimensions of our lives. For instance, it is worth investigating the role of digital literacy on lifelong learning in particular, and on education in general, as well as the digital upskilling effects on the labour market flexibility.

Further experimental studies on digital literacy are necessary to realize how certain variables (for instance, age, gender, socioeconomic status, cognitive abilities, etc.) affect this concept overtly or covertly. Moreover, the digital divide issue needs to be analysed through the lens of its main determinants.

New bibliometric analysis method can be implemented on digital literacy documents to reveal more information on how these works are related or centred on what major topic. This visual approach will assist to realize the big picture within the digital literacy framework.

Recommendations for practitioners

The digital literacy stakeholders, policymakers in education and managers in private organizations, need to be aware that there are many dimensions and variables regarding the implementation of digital literacy. In that case, stakeholders must comprehend their beneficiaries or the participants more deeply to increase the effect of digital literacy related activities. For example, critical thinking and problem-solving skills and abilities are mentioned to affect digital literacy. Hence, stakeholders have to initially understand whether the participants have enough entry level critical thinking and problem solving.

Development of digital literacy for different groups of people requires more energy, since each group might require a different set of skills, abilities, or competencies. Hence, different subject matter experts, such as technologists, instructional designers, content experts, should join the team.

It is indispensably vital to develop different digital frameworks for different technologies (basic or advanced) or different contexts (different levels of schooling or various industries).

These frameworks should be updated regularly as digital fields are evolving rapidly. Every year, committees should gather around to understand new technological trends and decide whether they should address the changes into their frameworks.

Understanding digital literacy in a thorough manner can enable decision makers to correctly implement and apply policies addressing the digital divide that is reflected onto various aspects of life, e.g., health, employment, education, especially in turbulent times such as the COVID-19 pandemic is.

Lastly, it is also essential to state the study limitations. This study is limited to the analysis of a certain number of papers, obtained from using the selected keywords and databases. Therefore, an extension can be made by adding other keywords and searching other databases.

See Table ​ Management9 9 .

List of papers (n = 43) included in the qualitative analysis—ordered alphabetically by title

Author contributions

The authors worked together on the manuscript equally. All authors have read and approved the final manuscript.

This research is funded by Woosong University Academic Research in 2022.

Availability of data and materials


The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Publisher's Note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Contributor Information

Hasan Tinmaz, Email: rk.ca.ttocidne@zamnith .

Yoo-Taek Lee, Email: rk.ca.usw@eelty .

Mina Fanea-Ivanovici, Email: [email protected] .

Hasnan Baber, Email: [email protected] .

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Technology Literacy: Importance, Skills, Examples, Future

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Technology literacy definition  says it is the ability to use, understand, create and manage digital technologies.  I've noticed that teachers nationwide are incorporating technology literacy in their classrooms to empower students in the digital realm. There are various ways teachers, including myself, can integrate technology literacy into lessons, and fortunately, numerous online resources are available to support us. In this blog post, I'll outline five different ways using  which teachers can seamlessly incorporate technology literacy into classrooms.  

Personally, I've found that enrolling in the  Software Development certification online  is a valuable step to grasp how we can implement technology literacy effectively. Stay tuned to learn more about why technology literacy is important and its practical applications. 

What is Technology Literacy?

Technology Literacy  is using technology to solve problems and accomplish tasks effectively. It includes the ability to use technological tools for problem-solving and critical thinking and the ability to understand how technology works and its uses to improve learning and performance. Technology literacy is not simply about knowing how to use a computer or a specific software program. It also involves understanding how technology can be used to achieve specific goals.

For example, a technology-literate individual might use a spreadsheet program to track and analyze data, design a website to share information with others, or create a presentation using multimedia tools. Technology literacy is an essential skill in today's world, and those who are not literate are at a disadvantage in both their personal and professional lives. You can enhance your knowledge of technology with  Full Stack Development course  available online and learn about essential tools for technology literacy.

Significance of Digital Technology Literacy

In a world increasingly shaped by digital technology, it is more important than ever for students to develop  digital technology literacy  skills. These skills go beyond simply being able to use a computer or smartphone. Instead, they involve critical thinking, analysis, and the ability to communicate ideas effectively in a digital format. Here are six ways in which digital literacy can benefit students:

  • It can help them become better communicators. In a world where much of our communication takes place online, it is essential for students to be able to express themselves clearly and concisely in writing.  Digital technology literacy  can help them hone these skills.
  • It can promote creativity. The ability to use digital tools can open up new possibilities for creativity and self-expression.
  • It can foster collaboration. Many tasks and projects now require teamwork and collaboration, and digital literacy skills can help students learn how to work effectively with others online.
  • It can prepare them for the workforce. An increasing number of jobs now require at least some proficiency with digital technology, so developing these skills can give students a significant advantage in the job market.
  • It can improve research skills. The internet has revolutionized how we access information, and technology and digital literacy skills are necessary to take  full advantage of this vast resource.
  • It can make learning more engaging. When used effectively, digital technology can make learning more interactive and engaging, resulting in improved retention of information.

Digital Literacy

Importance of Technology Literacy

In this section, I'll briefly highlight the importance of technology literacy: Technology literacy is the key to unlocking opportunities in a digital world, empowering individuals to effectively communicate, access information, and adapt to evolving technological advancements 

1. Overuse of Technology

In today's world, it's impossible to go a day without using some form of technology. We use it for communication, work, entertainment, and so much more. While technology has greatly improved our lives in many ways, there is such a thing as excessive use of a good thing. When we overuse technology, it can lead to addiction, isolation, and even depression. It's important to be aware of the dangers of overuse and to take steps to ensure that we stay healthy and balanced.

2. Improving Decision Making

Technology literacy can help us to make better decisions in all areas of our lives, from personal to professional. For example, knowing how to use a computer can help us to manage our finances, stay in touch with loved ones, or even  find a new job . In the workplace,  technology lite  can help us to troubleshoot problems, collaborate with colleagues, and stay up to date on industry news.

3. Supporting a Modern Workforce

Technology literacy is also essential for employees collaborating with others or working remotely. By using technology effectively, employees can stay connected and work together even when they are not in the same location. Technology literacy is an important skill for any employee and is becoming increasingly essential in the modern workplace.

4. Technological Versatility

Technology literacy is the ability to use, understand and create technology. Being technologically literate doesn't just mean being able to use a computer or smartphone. It also includes understanding how technology works and being able to create new technologies. And as our world grows more reliant on technology, the importance of technological literacy will only continue to grow.

5. Misinformation

In our increasingly connected world, it is more important than ever to be technology literate. With the proliferation of social media and the ease of sharing information online, it is all too easy for misinformation to spread. Technology literacy can help to overcome this problem by teaching people how to evaluate the accuracy of online sources.

6. Improving Digital Skills

As we use technology, we increasingly need to know how to use it, understand how it works, and be able to solve problems when things don't work right. However, technology literacy can be hard to define because everyone is different. There are lots of ways you can improve your digital skills: Internet research, reading articles, watching videos, taking classes, and talking to people who know what they're doing. Whatever your approach, the most important thing is to keep practicing as you get better at using technology in your everyday life.

7. Boosts Student Engagement

Students with technology literacy are more likely to be engaged in learning activities because they are more comfortable with technology than their peers. When students have a strong understanding of technology and can effectively use it to interact with their peers and teachers, they are more likely to be highly motivated to engage in learning activities and class discussions.

8. Privacy Concern

To stay secure and protect their privacy, it’s important to understand the various types of technology out there and know how they can be misused. In addition,  technology literacy  is crucial for ensuring you have the tools you need to protect yourself against malicious actors. This includes recognizing red flags like unsecured websites or apps and knowing how to spot social engineering tactics like phishing and fake news.

Technology Literacy Skills

  • Communication :  Communication is one of the most important aspects of  technology literacy , and it’s an area where many people struggle. And it also overcomes the barrier of language differences all around the world.
  • Comprehension :  Comprehension refers to the ability to understand something. It is an important skill for all learners, whether taking a class or working independently. It means knowing what you’re reading (or hearing or seeing) and applying what you know about it in new situations. You can improve your comprehension by reading widely and discussing what you read with others.
  • Evaluating Information :  Information literacy is the ability to evaluate and use information in order to make well-informed decisions. It encompasses a range of skills, including recognizing credible sources of information and interpreting and applying data.
  • Adaption :  Adaption is a necessary skill to thrive in the modern digital world. It is the ability to make use of new technologies and processes while also being able to understand how those technologies work.

Technology Literacy Examples

In this section, I’ll list down some examples of technology literacy to provide you better clarit y:    

  • Content Creation:   One of the most important skills for content creators is understanding how technology works. Knowing how  social media  works and how to use it to your advantage is vital as an online marketer. You should also be familiar with the different types of content, such as text, images, and video. This knowledge will be handy when creating content for your website or blog.
  • Communication :  Communication literacy is a cornerstone skill for any organization. Helping people communicate clearly and effectively is an important skill that all business owners should be able to demonstrate.
  • Research :  One of the most important kinds of research is scientific research. Scientific research looks for evidence that supports a particular hypothesis. For example, if a scientist wants to prove that the Earth is round, they will need to collect evidence.
  • Virtual Reality:   Virtual reality has been a growing technology for decades. The first VR headset was released in the 80s and initially targeted industry professionals who needed to view designs of buildings or machines in 3D. Virtual reality headsets have since become more accessible and are now used by people of all ages for entertainment, education, and healthcare.

The Future of Technology Literacy

As the world becomes increasingly digital, it's more important than ever for students to develop strong  technology literacy  skills. Technology literacy is the ability to use technology to solve problems and communicate ideas effectively. While some students may be 'digital natives' who are already proficient in technology, others may need more support to catch up. As such, it is important for educators to provide opportunities for all students to develop their  technology literacy  skills.  Business technology literacy  will be an important aspect of running businesses in the future.

One way to do this is by incorporating technology into lessons and assignments, giving students a chance to practice using different tools and applications. Another way is to provide resources and support for students who need extra help. By ensuring that all students have the opportunity to develop strong technology literacy skills, we can prepare them for success in a rapidly changing world.

Find out what's the highest paying job in the world and how it can lead to a life of wealth and satisfaction. Your journey to the top starts today!  

Difference between Media, Information, Technology, and Digital  Literacy  

In a world where the terms 'media,' 'information,' and 'technology' are often used interchangeably, it's important to understand the difference between  technology and media literacy  and other concepts. Just like technology literacy,  business digital literacy  can help businesses transform their way of doing business.

Media literacy  refers to the ability to consume and produce media critically. This includes understanding how media is created and how it can be biased and used to influence others.

On the other hand, media  information and technology literacy  refer to the ability to find, evaluate, and use information effectively. This includes understanding how to locate reliable sources of information and determining whether or not the information is accurate.

Technology literacy  refers to the ability to use technology effectively. This includes understanding how to troubleshoot technical problems and how to use technological tools for specific tasks. While all three of these literacies are important, each focuses on different skills and knowledge sets.  Media technology literacy  also plays numerous roles in today’s world, advancing quickly.

As technology continues to evolve,  I personally acknowledge the increasing importance for students to cultivate a strong foundation of  technology literacy . Education technology literacy encompasses a wide range of skills, from using basic office productivity software to coding and  programming . By developing these skills, students will be better prepared to succeed in the modern workplace. Although some may view technology as a hindrance, it is clear that those who are literate in technology will have a distinct advantage in the years to come. If you want to grow your career in this field, enroll in the  KnowledgeHut Software Development certification to  learn all you need about  technology and  media literacy   and develop a successful career.

Frequently Asked Questions ( FAQs)  

1. what is digital  technology literacy,  and examples.

Digital literacy allows us to use various digital platforms and understand, communicate and assess through them. When you read a book on a digital platform and contemplate the accuracy of a news report on your social media, you are displaying digital literacy.

2. What is the purpose of  technology literacy ? 

Technological literacy allows people to make well-informed choices as consumers.

3. What are the examples of digital literacy?   

Examples of Digital Literacy skills:

  • Using your phone to check emails.
  • Using an online search engine to find the answer to a question.
  • Using online search to complete research project
  • Creating an online profile on a social media platform


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    The integration of technology content into other subject areas, such as science, mathematics, history, social studies, the arts, and language arts, could greatly boost technological literacy. Without teachers trained to carry out this integration, however, technology is likely to remain an afterthought in U.S. education.

  6. Benefits of Technological Literacy

    One of the obvious benefits of technological literacy is in the economic realm. Technology, particularly in the high-tech sector, has been driving much of the economic growth in the United States and elsewhere, and an increasing percentage of jobs require technological skills (Rausch, 1998). Although technological literacy and technical ...

  7. Understanding and developing Digital Literacy

    Digital Literacy is about more than just using computers. To become digitally literate, learners need to develop a range of skills. They need to be able to use technology to search for and create content, solve problems and innovate. They need to be able to connect and communicate effectively online, learn, collaborate with peers, and discover ...

  8. Technology Literacy: Everything You Need to Know

    Technology literacy is simply the ability to use technology safely, effectively, and responsibly. Along with media literacy, it falls under the broader term of "digital literacy.". While media literacy is similar in that it is the ability to understand information presented to us across the internet, newspapers, books, and television ...

  9. Technology literacy: the extension of cognition

    Technology literacy is a construct that is increasingly referred to as an essential twenty-first century skill. However, too often, it is ambiguous as to what constitutes technology literacy. This paper posits that technology literacy has three distinct levels, including, (1) identify technologies relevant to a task, (2) understanding how to use the technology and how to navigate its interface ...

  10. Technological literacy

    Technological literacy. Technological literacy (Technology Literacy) is the ability to use, manage, understand, and assess technology. [1] Technological literacy is related to digital literacy in that when an individual is proficient in using computers and other digital devices to access the Internet, digital literacy gives them the ability to ...

  11. Essay about Technology and Literacy

    Essay about Technology and Literacy. According to Eric Havelock, "Greek literacy changed not only the means of communication, but also the shape of the Greek consciousness. The Greek story is self-contained, yet the crisis in the communication which it describes as taking place in antiquity acquires a larger dimension when measured against ...

  12. 8.2.3 The overwhelming influence of technology (research essay)

    6.13.2 How a Reddit community can have an impact: A close look at r/WallStreetBets (research essay) 6.14.1 Literacy in computer science (prospectus) 6.14.2 Literacy in computer science (research essay) 6.15.1 The Key to Football: Literacy (argument from experience) 6.15.2 National Football League Finances (prospectus)

  13. Integrating Technology and Literacy

    That task can be especially daunting in language arts literacy classrooms where reading and writing skill development is the crux of daily lessons. However, as 1:1 technology initiatives roll out, integrating technology into the classroom is our reality. With hundreds of sites, apps, Chrome extensions, and platforms available, choosing the ...

  14. How Technology Encourages Literacy and Education

    Get original essay. Technology encourages literacy by being providing an inclusive and modern approach to learning. Writing styles have changed in the age of obtaining information from screens rather than paper. Paragraphs have been shortened to accommodate people with shorter attention spans Phones and computers have become exceedingly more ...

  15. Technological Literacy and Technical Fluency Essay

    Tyler argues that technological literacy is the ability to use technology, while fluency in technology is a deep understanding of it and the future it brings to society. Teachers want students to be fluent in technology and be curious about learning. Curiosity gives motivation, which adds chances for mastering the topic.

  16. This Technological Life: My Technology Literacy Narrative

    The latter part of my technology literacy narrative wends its way into personal computing mainly for writing and communicative purposes, and then a deep dive into using the mainframe systems in college after I transferred to an American university. Before entering the second decade of the new millennium, computers were almost ubiquitous on ...

  17. Essay on Digital Literacy

    Digital literacy is the ability to use digital devices like computers, smartphones, and tablets. It's about knowing how to search for information online, use social media, send emails, and protect your personal information. It's a bit like learning to read and write, but with technology.

  18. Literacy and Technology

    Brian Street is a significant opponent of the autonomous model which he also sees as a "technology of the mind." Street was one of the earliest scholars involved in New Literacy Studies, a tradition focusing on literacy as a set of social practices rather than on the "schooled literacy" of reading and writing.Street believes that schooled literacy is value-laden and based on an assumed ...

  19. The Importance Of Technology Literacy In Students Learning

    Technology literacy plays a significant role in students learning. It is therefore crucial for educators to incorporate learning lessons and techniques that will help students build and strengthen their technology skills (McLaughlin, 2015). The literacy web tool that I am interested in exploring more extensively is Diigo.

  20. A systematic review on digital literacy

    Digital literacies. Digital literacy, which is one of the challenges of integration of technology in academic courses (Blau, Shamir-Inbal & Avdiel, 2020), has been defined in the current literature as the competencies and skills required for navigating a fragmented and complex information ecosystem (Eshet, 2004).A 'Digital Literacy Framework' was designed by Eshet-Alkalai (), comprising ...

  21. Literacy and Technology Essay

    Abstract This essay will be looking at how literacy fits in history and drama. It will be discussing why it is important and how it is used in these subjects. It will use the Australian curriculum to outline that literacy keeps the society going. The skills one needs in literacy is reading, writing, talking and listening.

  22. Technology Literacy: Importance, Skills, Examples, Future

    In this section, I'll briefly highlight the importance of technology literacy: Technology literacy is the key to unlocking opportunities in a digital world, empowering individuals to effectively communicate, access information, and adapt to evolving technological advancements. 1. Overuse of Technology.

  23. Essay On Technology And Literacy

    Essay On Technology And Literacy; Essay On Technology And Literacy. 716 Words 3 Pages. Nothing beats free! Generally, students have either needed to purchase hard copies for their English literature in a store- which is a little bit costly, or have borrowed a dully used school copy. Now, all the books that are public owned are accessible for ...