Thursday, January 04, 2007

Inside Higher Ed :: Testing for Technology Literacy

Every state faces these issues -- What can Oklahoma do to help raise the technology literacy of their students and populations?

Inside Higher Ed :: Testing for Technology Literacy:
Professors, librarians, and other college officials are increasingly coming to grips with the somewhat confounding reality that despite students’ affinity for IPods and their complete comfort with Google, many of them lack the technological literacy they need to navigate today’s information landscape. But recognizing the problem is not the same as knowing how to measure or fix it — tasks that many colleges are puzzling over.

The California State University system is drawing a bead on a solution, though. Its officials are putting the finishing touches on a test — developed in conjunction with Educational Testing Service — that they believe accurately gauges students’ technological literacy. And they are contemplating making the test a requirement that students would have to pass to move on to higher level courses, much like they do now for writing proficiency.

“People are good at learning technologies, but they are not so good at applying them,” said Barbara O’Connor, a professor of communications at California State University at Sacramento. O’Connor has become a strong advocate for increasing technological literacy.

But as technology evolves so quickly, experts toil to grasp the extent of the problem, said Diana Oblinger, vice president for Educause, a nonprofit group that deals with technology issues in higher education. “We’re now working on our next white paper and we’re struggling to define technology literacy,” she said. “There are more questions than answers because a couple of years ago we didn’t even have podcasts.” Oblinger added that Cal State has been working on improving technology literacy longer than any other system....

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