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Be FIT Fluency with Information Technology A Report of the Committee on Information Technology Liter


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Title: Be FIT Fluency with Information Technology A Report of the Committee on Information Technology Liter

Be FIT!Fluency with Information TechnologyA
Report of theCommittee on Information Technology
Literacy Computer Science and Telecommunications
Board National Research Council
  • Herb Lin
  • 202-334-3191

The Charge
What should everyone know about Information
  • Everyone means those in the population at large
    who wish to use IT effectively.
  • Reasons are diverse
  • To be productive in the workplace
  • To be an informed citizen
  • To apply IT to personally relevant tasks

The Scale of the Problem
  • Information Technology -- information, computers,
    communications, software broadly defined -- is
    fundamentally changing the world
  • Certain changes are worthy of comment ...

New Domain Names
Grand- mother Sends Email
Moores Law
Linking The World, Personally
  • An electronically linked world joins individuals
    more effectively than papers, TV, phones ...
  • Email is inexpensive, fast, asynchronous,
    multimedia person-to-person communication
  • Chatrooms newsgroups give communication
    immediacy to small groups w/ common interests
  • Web pages are a passive introduction to
    individuals, allowing people of similar interests
    to find each other

Nowhere Is Remote
  • Compare New York, NY and Unalacleet, AK in
    breadth and immediacy of information access?
  • For finding a Prague subway map, equal
  • For NASDAQ quotes, equal
  • For answering How bout them Mets? equal
  • Reading the Sydney Morning Herald is equally easy
    from Sydney, Nova Scotia or Sydney, New South

Depression Is On The Rise
  • A Carnegie Mellon University study shows a
    significant rise in depression with as little as
    one hour per day of Internet usage
  • Such people had fewer friends
  • Postulated reasons ...
  • On-line contacts are more superficial than
    face-to-face contacts
  • Time spent on-line diminishes the amount of time
    spent in social activity

English Is Becoming Esperanto
  • Documents in every known language are doubtless
    available on-line, but most information is in
    English ...
  • The post-WWII tradition of English as the
    language of science/technology likely contributes
  • Dominance of US information technology industries
    also contributes

Freedom Of Speech
  • For most people Information Technology brings a
    freedom of speech that has only been available to
    those with a soapbox, broadcast frequency or
    printing press
  • Put up what you want
  • Read what you want
  • Say what you want

  • Perhaps the most daunting component of the IT
    transformation underway is its rate
  • Implies urgency in achieving universal access
  • Traditional IT skills instruction is
    inadequate, because it lacks staying power
  • Premise What everyone should know about IT
    cannot be a static prescription, but must provide
    for change, enable adaptability and promote
    lifelong learning

Education For A Lifetime
  • A college education has an expected useful life
    of roughly 55 years ...
  • What should one learn about information
    technology for this span, considering that ...
  • Electronic computers are 53 years old
  • ARPANet came on-line 30 years ago
  • The term PC, as in personal computer, is less
    than 20 yeas old
  • The public has know the WWW less than 5 years
  • What should the Class of 44 have been taught?

The WESKAIT Committee
  • Committee was inaugurated in August, 1997
  • Testimony was solicited broadly
  • Communities queried
  • Business
  • Computer Science
  • Education
  • Library Science
  • Societies
  • Standards
  • Training

Alfred Aho Bell Labs Marcia Linn
Berkeley Arnold Packer Hopkins Larry Snyder,
Chair UW Allen Tucker Bowdoin Jeffrey Ullman
Stanford Andries van Dam Brown
  • The committee adopted the term fluency at the
    suggestion of Yasmin Kafai, UCLA
  • Literacy connotes rudimentary knowledge, skills
  • Computer literacy is in wide use with a
    skills-only connotation
  • Fluency connotes expertise, the ability to
    synthesize, to use the medium effectively
  • Fluency with information technology describes the
    objective, and FITness is the term the committee
    has adopted for it

A Tripartite Solution
  • Fluency with Information Technology requires the
    acquisition of three kinds of knowledge
  • Concepts
  • Skills
  • Capabilities
  • Concepts, Skills and Capabilities are different
    dimensions of IT knowledge
  • Interdependent
  • Co-equal

  • Knowing contemporary applications
  • Approximates traditional computer literacy
  • Essential for
  • Job preparedness
  • Education, as a tool making a student productive
  • Learning the other parts of FITness
  • A moving target, reliant on the state-of-the-art

Example Use a word processor
  • The foundations of information technology
  • Concepts refer to material that might be called
    the book learning part of FITness
  • Concepts explain ...
  • How and why IT works as it does
  • Constraints and limitations on applications
  • Principles on which to build new understanding
  • Ideas that can be used to make IT more personally

Example Difference between algorithm and
  • Higher level thinking
  • Life skills applied to information technology
  • Capabilities entail ...
  • Abstract thinking
  • Logical reasoning
  • Analysis
  • Judgment, estimation, analogies
  • The raw material for life-long learning

Example Engage in sustained reasoning
Knowledge For FITness
  • Fluency is not an end with a fluent/not_fluent
    test of achievement
  • It is the basic knowledge -- skills, concepts,
    capabilities -- necessary for a life-long quest
  • Acquires new skills and upgrades as needed
  • Understands the foundational concepts better
  • Progressively becomes more capable with IT
  • Generally Apply IT optimally to meet ones needs
  • The take home message FITness is the foundation
    for life-long learning ...

Selecting The Key Knowledge
  • Committee limit Top 10 items in each type
  • Keep to the plan
  • FITness is not an end state -- it is a process of
    life-long learning... so the goal is a sufficient
    level of introduction

CAUTION There are 30 topics ... do not envision
a 1 topic per lecture course or a 1 topic per
chapter book
Ten Skills
  • Setting up a personal computer
  • Using basic operating system features
  • Using a word processor
  • Using a graphics/artwork/presentation tool
  • Connecting a PC to a network
  • Use the Internet to locate information
  • Using a computer to communicate with others
  • Using a spreadsheet
  • Organizing and querying a database
  • Using online tutorial information

Ten Concepts
  • What is a computer, how does it work?
  • Information systems
  • Networks
  • Digital representation of information
  • Information structure and assessment
  • Modeling phenomena with computers
  • Algorithmic thinking and programming
  • Universality
  • Limitations
  • Information in society

Ten Capabilities
  • Engage in sustained reasoning
  • Manage complexity
  • Test a solution
  • Locate bugs in a faulty use of IT
  • Organize and navigate information structures
  • Collaborate with others using technology
  • Communicate IT to other audiences
  • Expect the unexpected
  • Anticipate technological change
  • Think of technologically, learn by analogy

Implementational Issues
  • The report defines the content, but
    implement-ational issues for colleges were
    addressed ...
  • The college/university case is easier
  • The committee is composed of academics
  • Higher education has more resources than K-12
  • Colleges universities are more flexible sic
  • FITness is essential to present mission, urgent
  • College students should be FIT when they
    graduate FITness should become an entrance

  • Concepts, skills and capabilities are
    inter-dependent and cannot be taught in isolation
  • Projects -- meaning coherent, multiweek
    activities to achieve a specific goal using IT --
    are the key
  • Motivate learning skills and exercise them
  • Provide a exposure to several capabilities
  • Provide context for learning concepts

Projects Touch Many Ideas
Discipline Specific Projects
  • Ideally, FITness should be taught in the context
    of a students interests or major
  • Motivation to learn is stronger
  • The results have a direct application
  • There are impediments ...
  • Freshmen have not chosen majors -- generic
  • Resources are essential -- campus infrastructure
  • Few FIT faculty to teach FITness -- co-taught
  • The role of FITness in curriculum not yet set

Some Challenges For Colleges/Universities
  • Should FITness instruction be offered to some/all
    undergraduates? All students?
  • Is there space in the typical undergraduate
    schedule for FITness instruction?
  • How should delivery be mapped onto the units
    interested and capable of FITness instruction?
  • Would FITness fulfill the Quantitative Reasoning

  • Fluency in IT is essential to citizens in Info
  • FITness entails interdependent knowledge
  • Skills -- competency with existing applications
  • Concepts -- IT foundations
  • Capabilities -- higher level thinking in IT
  • FITness, not an end state, but life-long learning
  • Fluency instruction in college is projects-based
  • With the content defined, it is time to implement
    ... it is an urgent matter for students