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Using Stories to Promote Technological Literacy

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2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 10, 2012

Start Date

June 10, 2012

End Date

June 13, 2012



Conference Session

Innovations in Promoting Technological Literacy II

Tagged Divisions

Liberal Education/Engineering & Society and Technological and Engineering Literacy/Philosophy of Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

25.1441.1 - 25.1441.11



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Paper Authors


William R. Loendorf Eastern Washington University

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William R. Loendorf is currently a Full Professor of engineering and design at Eastern Washington University. He obtained his B.Sc. in engineering science at the University of Wisconsin, Parkside, M.S. in electrical engineering at Colorado State University, M.B.A. at the Lake Forest Graduate School of Management, and Ph.D. in engineering management at Walden University. He holds a Professional Engineer license and has 30 years of industrial experience as an Engineer or Engineering Manager at General Motors, Cadnetix, and Motorola. His interests include engineering management, technological literacy, improving the competitiveness of American companies, and real-time embedded systems.

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Using Stories to Promote Technological LiteracyAbstractTechnologies are all around us; they exist in many different forms; and have numerous diversefunctions. Today’s society, in general, would have a difficult time living or functioning withoutmost of these modern conveniences. Yet people take our modern technologies for granted. Thatis, people use them but in almost every case do not really understand them, know how they work,or how they came to be. They are simply the tools utilized to accomplish a host of tasks andpeople accept them as such. However, technologies have been used by humans since thebeginning of time to enhance and extend our capabilities. These technologies were then passedon from one generation to the next though verbal training sessions. Stories were used todemonstrate how these devices were first created, improved over time, and used. They addedboth breadth and depth to the training process. This use of stories to describe the innovation fromthe initial idea, to the creation of the first prototype, through its improvements, to its current statewas an integral part of the learning process. All too often today this aspect of technologicalliteracy has been sidelined in order to get to the facts, cover only the necessary information, andspeed up the educational pace. However, as a result, the connection between today’stechnologies and those of the past is lost. In order to address this issue, stories from the ancient torecent past along with real life experiences have been incorporated into class lectures to exploreand discuss the historical perspective of technological development. These stories alsodemonstrate how technologies are inter-related and how cultural factors affect the acceptance orrejection of technologies. The intent was to enhance the student’s understanding of howtechnologies were developed and why. These stories promote technological literacy and help toprepare students for the technological challenges they will encounter in the future by enhancingand extending their understanding of past technologies and their related issues.

Loendorf, W. R. (2012, June), Using Stories to Promote Technological Literacy Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--22198

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