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ICT Fluency and High Schools: A Workshop Summary
what aspects of ICT fluency the schools should be responsible for fostering in the first place.
Being Fluent articulates, through its FITness framework, an important continuum of skills, concepts, and intellectual capabilities. ICT is not only a “thing” like an integrated circuit or the World Wide Web; it is also an application of hardware and software in the service of cognitive and professional growth. The result is a revolutionary new space for knowledge-generation and its digital representation (Horwitz, see Appendix B). It is a space that can link a wide community of learners and thinkers, where our capacities can advance through the intersection of people’s social and individual inclinations.
John Seely Brown (2002, p. 6) describes this very real phenomenon as follows:
It’s interesting to watch how new systems get absorbed by society; with the Web, this absorption, or learning process, by young people has been quite different from the process in times past. My generation tends not to want to try things unless or until we already know how to use them. If we don’t know how to use some appliance or software, our instinct is to reach for a manual or take a course or call up an expert. Believe me, hand a manual or suggest a course to 15 year olds and they think you are a dinosaur. They want to turn the thing on, get in there, muck around, see what works. Today’s kids get on the Web and link, lurk, and watch how other people are doing things, then try it themselves…. Learning becomes situated in action; it becomes as much social as cognitive, it is concrete rather than abstract.
Yet as Bell points out (see Appendix C), the existing FITness framework described in Being Fluent is predominantly based on an individual construct of ICT fluency. It notes, for example, that “FITness is a body of knowledge and understanding that enables individuals to use information technology effectively in a variety of different contexts” (National Research Council 1999, p. 40). But Bell, like Brown, suggests that expertise and ultimate solutions mediated through ICT are often to be found in distributed groups or communities and not just in the mind of the individual. “Generally, individuals routinely leverage their social networks to identify useful knowledge and relevant learning resources as part of their day-to-day dealings,” Bell writes. “For those immersed within what could be characterized as an ICT learning community, they may learn about new technological systems and approaches from others in their social network.”
Vera Michalchik emphasizes the social and cultural dimensions associated with information and communication technology, stressing how difficult it is to separate the technology from the social context of the user (V.