limited to teaching a collection of skills with modern software packages, and thus do not embrace the idea of FITness as it is described in the main body of this report. However, there are some exceptions. At Duke University, the computer literacy course focuses on the theme "what computers can do and what they can't do, now and in the future." 35 It assumes no prior computing experience, and in a single semester introduces students to the fundamentals of programming, hardware and software, and the limits of computation. At Brown University, the computer literacy course "Concepts and Challenges of Computer Science" introduces students to programming and other problem-solving tools, as well as a wide range of topics that relate computing to daily life.36 Sample assignments in this course include home budgets, client database management, and writing a Java script to play the game tic-tac-toe. At both Duke and Brown, the computer literacy courses are hands-on laboratory-based courses with a high level of interaction among students and instructors.

Vocational and technical colleges also offer a wide range of courses that contribute to information technology literacy. For instance, the University of Maine at Augusta offers a two-year degree program in computer and information systems. The core curriculum covers various areas of technology, including computer systems, networking, databases, administration of computing facilities, applications programming, and working with the World Wide Web. It emphasizes hands-on learning and practical applications of information systems.37

B.4 Other Approaches to Information Technology Literacy

Skills with and knowledge about information technology may also be gained through various informal channels. For instance, dozens of teenagers and community leaders have benefited from the U.S. West Foundation's New Technology Academy, which uses children as teachers of computer technology. This program is hoping to spread the word that even in the poorest communities, kids with their uninhibited curiosity and wealth of time to "fiddle and explore" may very well be the nation's most natural teachers and maintainers of technology. Programs that use young computer "whizzes" as "computer-maintenance technicians,

35  

Alan W. Biermann. 1994. "Computer Science for the Many," Computer , 27(February):62–73.

36  

See, for example, <http://www.cs.brown.edu/courses/cs002>.

37  

See <http://www.uma.maine.edu/academics/uacadcisbrochure.html>.



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