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Teaching Process For Technological Literacy: The Case Of Nanotechnology And Global Open Source Pedagogy

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2010 Annual Conference & Exposition


Louisville, Kentucky

Publication Date

June 20, 2010

Start Date

June 20, 2010

End Date

June 23, 2010



Conference Session

Teaching Technological Literacy - College Courses and Minors

Tagged Division

Technological Literacy Constituent Committee

Page Count


Page Numbers

15.1184.1 - 15.1184.11



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Paper Authors


Richard Doyle Penn State University

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Professor of English and Science, Technology, and Society at Penn State University, Richard Doyle specializes in the rhetoric of emerging science and technology. He is an award winning teacher and he has published numerous books and articles.

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Richard Devon Pennsylvania State University

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Professor of Engineering Design, Engineering Design Program, SEDTAPP, Penn State University. Devon has written widely on design ethics and on design education with a focus on communication technologies.

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Teaching Process for Technological Literacy: The Case of Nanotechnology and Global Open Source Pedagogy


In this paper we propose approaching the concern addressed by the technology literacy movement by using process design rather than product design. Rather than requiring people to know an impossible amount about technology, we suggest that we can teach process for understanding and making decisions about any technology. This process can be applied to new problems and new contexts that emerge from the continuous innovation and transformation of technology markets. Such a process offers a strategy for planning for and abiding the uncertainty intrinsic to the development of modern science and technology.

We teach students from diverse backgrounds in an NSF funded course on the social, human, and ethical (SHE) impacts of nanotechnology. The process we will describe is global open source collective intelligence (GOSSIP). This paper traces out some the principles of GOSSIP through the example of a course taught to a mixture of engineers and students from the Arts and the Humanities. Open source is obviously a powerful method: witness the development of Linux, and GNU before that, and the extraordinary success of Wikipedia. Democratic, and hence diverse, information flows have been suggested as vital to sustaining a healthy company.1


Many view technological literacy (TL) as important for cultural participation and political citizenship in modern industrial societies.2 While this idea has a considerable history (eg, the STS movement3 and the New Liberal Arts Program of the Sloan Foundation2), it is also current and has attracted the attention of the National Academy of Engineering over the last ten years.4 In 2009, Krupczak summarized their involvement, "The National Academy of Engineering (NAE) recently published: “Changing the Conversation: Messages for Improving Public Understanding of Engineering1”. In this work, the NAE states that capable and confident participants in our technologically- dependent society must know something about engineering. A 2002 report by the NAE entitled, Technically Speaking: Why All Americans Need to Know More about Technology, describes the importance of being literate about technology in the 21st century2. In their 2006 report, Tech Tally3, the NAE defined technological literacy as “an understanding of technology at a level that enables effective functioning in a modern technological society.”5 The report on an NSF sponsored workshop at the National Academy of Engineering in 2005 includes the statement that technological literacy is important because, “We live in a technological world. Living in the twenty-first century requires much more from every individual than a basic ability to read, write, and perform simple mathematics. Technology affects virtually every aspect of our lives, from enabling citizens to perform routine tasks to requiring that they be able to make responsible, informed decisions that affect individuals, our society, and the environment. Citizens of today must have a basic

Doyle, R., & Devon, R. (2010, June), Teaching Process For Technological Literacy: The Case Of Nanotechnology And Global Open Source Pedagogy Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. 10.18260/1-2--16877

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