For K–12 students to become technologically literate, their teachers must also become technologically literate. To this end, colleges of education will need assessment tools to gauge the level of technological literacy of teachers-in-training. Even teachers of nontechnical subjects must be technologically literate to make connections between their subject areas and technology. Many other institutions and organizations—such as media outlets, museums, government agencies, and associations that represent industries—would benefit from knowing the level of technological literacy of their customers, patrons, or target audiences.
Levels and types of technological literacy are bound to differ among people from different social, cultural, educational, and work backgrounds. To the extent that these differences put particular people or groups at a disadvantage (e.g., related to educational or employment opportunities), technological literacy can be considered a social-justice issue. Assessment can identify these differences, thus creating opportunities for lessening them.
Levels and types of technological literacy are bound to differ among people from different social, cultural, educational, and work backgrounds.
However, to make a case for raising the level of technological literacy, one must first be able to show that the present level is low, which is difficult to do without a good measure of technological literacy. Until technological literacy is assessed in a rigorous, systematic way, it is not likely to be considered a priority by policy makers, educators, or average citizens.
As a context for discussion, the committee collected examples of assessments that can measure an aspect of technological literacy, even if they were not developed for that purpose. Altogether, the committee identified 28 such instruments, including several developed outside the United States. About two-thirds target K–12 students, nearly one-third focus on out-of-school adults, and two are intended for teachers. Most existing assessments for out-of-school adults tend to focus on awareness, attitudes, and opinions, rather than on knowledge or capabilities.
The committee concluded that none of these instruments is completely adequate to the task of assessing technological literacy, because none of them fully covers the three dimensions spelled out in Technically Speaking. Most of them emphasize the knowledge dimension, although a number include items that explore technological capabilities, and a handful even focus solely on the capability dimension. But very few include the