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Project-ing Tech Literacy

A new whitepaper addressing recent calls for technology literacy education argues any such education should involve project-based learning, while a separate new report indicates the need for such education may soon increase.

The whitepaper from Jonathan D. Becker, a grant evaluator for the U.S. Department of Education, and Cherise A. Hodge and Mary W. Sepelyak, doctoral candidates at Richmond's Virginia Commonwealth University, insists that, despite contention over what exactly constitutes technology literacy, there is consensus in the 49 states with technology literacy goals that the construct is multidimensional, and that one of those dimensions is acting or doing. In other words, students don't just observe technology. They interact with it, meaning any instruction involving technology literacy should include students using technology in an active or interactive way.

Therefore, proposing that technology literacy be achieved through project-based learning (specifically through the TechYES literacy curriculum the paper supported) may not represent a quantum leap in logic. However, it is worth remembering if and when the Federal Communication Comission's technology literacy initiatives come to fruition, as outlined in the March release of the National Broadband Plan. Those included a National Digital Literacy Corps, which would help underserved areas gain and properly use broadband access, as well as a national technology curriculum that would be woven throughout basic subject areas.

Meanwhile, a new report from the Pew Center on the States finds more states are buying into broadband as a powerful educational and economic tool because they believe there will be federal dollars that will continue to be available to help fund construction and expansion of states' broadband networks. But most states, the report says, are still scrambling to be ready to take advantage of $7.2 billion in stimulus funding dedicated to achieving universal broadband access.

If and when those lagging states do catch up, they'll likely arrive through different pathways and with different ideas for the use of their universal broadband. And their ideas about the need and purpose of technology literacy may become more divergent than they already are. Still, a project-based technology literacy curriculum could be the most effective. But, since it would involve a more qualitative and creative approach, would it also be the most difficult to implement thoroughly and uniformly on a national scale?

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