Thursday, November 29, 2007

"Computer Skills"

Since the end of the semester is almost here, I've been reviewing for our final exam and thinking about the difference between knowing the "how" and the "why" of using computers in academia. I came across these excellent definitions from Penn State's website:

Information literacy is defined as a group of critical thinking skills which consists of individuals' abilities to identify when they have an informational need and to use any necessary technology to access, evaluate, and use information effectively.
Computer literacy is defined as the understanding of what computers can and cannot do, and the ability to use both hardware and software appropriately and skillfully.

In a sense, the name of our class, Computer Skills, is misleading because it implies the we are learning about computers when, in fact, we are learning about learning. We are developing critical thinking skills using technology as a tool, and we are creating lifelong learners in the process.

Here is part of what the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) had to say about information literacy and higher education:

Developing lifelong learners is central to the mission of higher education institutions. By ensuring that individuals have the intellectual abilities of reasoning and critical thinking, and by helping them construct a framework for learning how to learn, colleges and universities provide the foundation for continued growth throughout their careers, as well as in their roles as informed citizens and members of communities. Information literacy is a key component of, and contributor to, lifelong learning. Information literacy competency extends learning beyond formal classroom settings and provides practice with self-directed investigations as individuals move into internships, first professional positions, and increasing responsibilities in all arenas of life.

I would encourage any educator who uses technology as a tool to read this thoughtful analysis, the rest of which can be found at the ACRL website. It was written in 2000, but remains very relevant today, if not more so.

1 comment:

R. Jungman said...

I totally agree about the name "Computer Skills" for our courses. It is such a limiting term and one I have dealt with at the school and district level for a long time. Even "technology" would be so much better, but the definition of Information literacy from Penn State is really what I see we are and should be doing.