June 24, 2007
June 24, 2007
June 27, 2007
12.928.1 - 12.928.12
Integrating Technology: Our Culture, Our Students
For those of us who have had the opportunity to teach both the technical and non-technical students within a university environment, it is clear that a divide exists between many of the students who comprise these groups. How often have we heard students make statements that characterize themselves as either interested in social issues or technical ones, as if there is no overlap between the two realms? Technology, using either a broad or narrow definition, is so pervasive within society and culture that we cannot complacently accept polarized positions. As engineering and technology educators, we must address the issue, and we must recognize that there are two sides that need to be addressed: providing appropriate content that encourages students of the arts and social sciences to become fluent with the language and function of technology and providing appropriate content that encourages students of science, engineering and technology to become fluent with the language and applicability of traditionally liberal education studies.
Technology Literacy. In the wake of rapidly advancing technology, agendas for technology education are prevalent. The Committee on Technology Literacy, consisting of experts from diverse subject areas and organized by the National Academy of Engineering and the National Research Council, published a report in 2002. This report broadly defines technology as comprising “the entire system of people, organizations, knowledge, processes, and devices that go into creating and operating technological artifacts as well as the artifacts themselves.”1 The report documents that people today eagerly participate in new technologies through their role as consumer; however, they often have less of the hands-on experience which led prior generations to a certain level of intuition about how the technology worked. Today we have many individuals who can use various technologies in fairly sophisticated ways, but they do not know enough to tinker, alter or repair. They also do not know enough about the technologies to think critically about them in the context of their impact on society and culture. The report calls for educators to embrace this problem and take action to develop greater levels of technological literacy for the world’s citizens. But what constitutes technological literacy?
A 2006 report defines technology literacy as the ability to use, manage, evaluate, and understand technology.2 The report further notes that today’s technological systems have become intertwined with social systems unlike any previous time in history. Any advances or changes in technology have far-reaching effects socially, culturally, and scientifically. How people develop and apply technology today has become critical to future generations and future society, even to the point of compromising the Earth’s ability to continue to sustain life. The definition of technology literacy in this report (and others), has two aspects. One is that everyone needs a deeper understanding of the scientific and/or mathematical underpinnings of various technologies and the other is that everyone needs to understand the context of how, where, and when the technology is applied and be able to analyze what the impacts might be.
Thus, a goal of technology literacy for university-educated adults must be targeted from two fronts. One is to enrich the curricula of student engineers and technologists so that they
Goodson, C., & Miertschin, S., & Stewart, B., & Faulkenberry, L., & Johnson, C. (2007, June), Integrating Technology: Our Culture, Our Students Paper presented at 2007 Annual Conference & Exposition, Honolulu, Hawaii. https://peer.asee.org/2056
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