Monday, March 22, 2010

Defining "Computer Literate"

Check out this blog post from called "Computer Literacy: See if you know the basics." I read this list and thought it was an excellent summary, and a great place to begin building a computer literacy curriculum.

Although the whole post is worth reading, I'll summarize the topics the author (Dwight Silverman) included as necessary for "computer literacy":
  • files and navigation
  • what things are called
  • mouse and keyboard
  • basic hardware
  • how to get online
  • how to search
  • security
  • program basics
In reviewing his list, I was pleased to see that the computer literacy curriculum I am currently working on includes activities that address all of these topics (and more!). One thing I think is missing from his list goes with "what things are called." I would include "names for actions." His list includes the nouns, but ignores the verbs. And as an ESL teacher, I have to say, the verbs (like click, scroll, minimize, etc.) are just as important!

Any ABE teacher could be working a few of these topics into their regular classroom instruction, even if it's just a simple introduction to "how to search." You might be surprised how useful it is to teach the concept of "key words" and "phrases" and how to use them to get better search results from Google or Bing. And of course, "key words" and "phrases" are useful literacy concepts in themselves - helpful in all sorts of tasks, like outlining, taking notes, highlighting a text, and so on - which is where computer literacy and just plain old literacy become very hard to distinguish from one another.

Here's the complete link for the original blog post:

For my readers: what else is missing from this list?


Nate said...

-Filling out web forms (opening an email account)
-Signing in/logging on (to anything),
-managing multiple passwords.
-Retrieving passwords you have forgotten.
-Knowing that just because you can log onto your computer doesn't mean you are automatically logged into your web-based email account.
-Knowing that your web-based email account exists on the web and isn't on your computer.
I'm going to stop now. It isn't uncommon to find a teacher that struggles with these concepts.

Susan WB said...

Good additions, Nate. Though I think if you read the original post, some of these things are assumed in his original categories (e.g. "Security" includes how to manage passwords). But yes, "where things actually are" - what's on my hard drive vs. what's on the network, and "what am I logging into" - my computer vs. my email account confuse many people.

Thanks for commenting!