Why The Study of Technology Should Be Mandatory
Note: The ITEA-TfAAP webpages are intended to present the
reader with an historical perspective of the project and the
ground-breaking work it accomplished. The TfAAP web pages are archival and will
not continue to be updated. After the TfAAP web pages were archived
in January 2006, ITEA had a name change and became the International Technology and Engineering Educators Association (ITEEA). The name was not changed on these archival pages.
The term “technological literacy” refers to one's
ability to use, manage, evaluate, and understand technology
(ITEA, 2000/2002). In order to be a technologically literate
citizen, a person should understand what technology is, how
it works, how it shapes society and in turn how society shapes
it. Moreover, a technologically literate person has some abilities
to “do” technology that enables them to use their
inventiveness to design and build things and to solve practical
problems that are technological in nature. A characteristic
of a technologically literate person is that they are comfortable
with and objective about the use of technology, neither scared
of it nor infatuated with it. Technological literacy is much
more that just knowledge about computers and their application.
It involves a vision where every person has a degree of knowledge
about the nature, behavior, power and consequences of many aspects
of technology from a real world perspective.
So who should be technologically literate today and in the
future? Because we live in a world that is influenced by and
controlled with technology, everyone should have a level of
technological literacy. How can one become technologically literate?
The best way is to have every student in Grades K—12 in
schools today to undertake a study of technology by taking technology
education and other subjects that teach about technology. The
in-depth content for what every student should know and be able
to do is documented in the International Technology Education Association's (ITEA) Standards
for Technological Literacy (STL).
A belief presented in STL
is that all citizens in the future can and should become technologically
ITEA's mission is to promote technological literacy as an essential
and basic part of education that everyone needs. ITEA created
as part of its effort the Technology for All American's Project
(TfAAP), which was funded in the United States by the National
Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Aeronautics and Space
Administration (NASA) from 1994 to 2005. Some significant publications
that TfAAP produced during its existence were Standards
for Technological Literacy: Content Standards for Technological
which contained 20 standards that documented what every student
should know and be able to do in order to be technologically
literate, and Advancing Excellence
in Technological Literacy: Student Assessment, Professional
Development, and Program Standards (AETL),
which served as companion standards to STL.
Other support documents that were produced by TfAAP include
four addenda (that address improving student assessment, developing
standards-based educational programs and curriculum, and developing
teachers as professionals in the study of technology), which
provide more detailed directions on how to best use STL
and AETL. Finally,
TfAAP produced significant publication titled Technology
for All Americans; A Rationale and Structure for the Study of
Technology in 1996 and did a comprehensive rewrite
of this document in 2005.
The power and promise of technology can be further enhanced if
all people are technologically literate in the future. Anything
short of this may jeopardize our ability to be competitive in
the world marketplace and to solve human and other problems through
the wise use of technology.