College Freshmen Struggle With Tech Literacy

December 27, 2006

Slashdot | College Freshmen Struggle With Tech Literacy

an article on the E-Commerce News site [E-Commerce News: Trends: Generation M’s Surprising Struggle With Tech Literacy] about techno-literacy problems with incoming college freshmen. Some schools, like CSU, are planning on including a technology comprehension test alongside their English and Math evaluations for new students.

From the article: “Not all of Generation M can synthesize the loads of information they’re accessing, educators say. ‘They’re geeky, but they don’t know what to do with their geekdom,’ said Barbara O’Connor, a Sacramento State communications studies professor involved in a nationwide effort to hone students’ computer-research skills. On a recent nationwide test to measure their technological ‘literacy’ — their ability to use the Internet to complete class assignments — only 49 percent of the test-takers correctly evaluated a set of Web sites for objectivity, authority and timeliness. Only 35 percent could correctly narrow an overly broad Internet search.”

I can’t wait to see how this plays out in my senior courses this winter on Children and Technology. I’ve had a running argument with anyone would didn’t run away on what it takes to have a useful level of technoliteracy since I was first a TA around 1990. Knowing how to set up the VCR is nothing in comparison to understanding how to subvert the proscribed functions of the VCR. Merely following a manual is to technoliteracy what phonics is to reading Proust.

One Response to “College Freshmen Struggle With Tech Literacy”

  1. bah, there is no such thing as technological literacy… there is just literacy and the willingness to take risks. Literacy is the common set of ‘critical thinking’ and analytical skills that are necessary to actively interpret and understand the ‘meanings’ of the plurality of messages embedded in the world (including those skills necessary to know when something is not a message). The risk taking is the other big part of technical skill, which when combined with practical wisdom, as represented in literacy in general makes for a well rounded person.