Texas Association For Educational Data Systems
POSITION PAPER ON COMPUTER LITERACY
March 17, 1981
TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN:
The Board of Directors of the Texas Association for Educational Data Systems (TAEDS) adopted the following resolution and position paper on computer literacy at its regular meeting on February 14, 1981. This association has 280 members who are active educators and computer professionals in Texas public schools, community colleges, senior colleges and universities.
One of the purposes of Texas AEDS is to promote the recognition of vital issues in educational computing for all professionals, i.e., educators, technicians, and administrators. Since the question of computer literacy is the most vital issue facing educational computing today, the Board feels compelled to lend the resources, expertise and strength of our organization to the solution of this question.
We solicit your consideration of our position and your support of our resolution.
Philip J. Gensler, President Texas Association for Educational Data Systems
WHEREAS, information has been recognized as a vital national resource; and
WHEREAS, America is rapidly changing from a predominantly industrial society to an information-oriented society; and
WHEREAS, computer technology is the central and dominant agent in this change; and
WHEREAS, computer knowledge and skills are needed in most professions and occupations in the last years of the twentieth century; and
WHEREAS, computer literacy is a prerequisite to effective participation in an information-oriented society; and
WHEREAS, computer literacy is rapidly becoming as much a social obligation as reading literacy; and
WHEREAS, education is textbook-bound and today’s textbooks make little or no reference to computers and information; and
WHEREAS, the President’s Science Advisory Committee concluded that if educational computing is to find a useful place in higher education, substantial revision of course material in various disciplines is necessary; and
WHEREAS, many teachers at all levels do not know how to use computers in the classroom and are not prepared to teach their use or their impact on society; now, therefore, be it
RESOLVED, by the Texas Association for Educational Data Systems, that the 67th Legislature of the State of Texas be encouraged to require all school districts to offer a well- balanced curriculum that includes English language arts, mathematics, science, health, physical education, fine arts, social studies, economics, business education, other languages, vocational education, and computer literacy; and be it further
RESOLVED, that the 67th Legislature of the State of Texas be encouraged to direct the State Board of Education to designate the most essential parts of each of the above subjects in a well-balanced curriculum, thus delineating elements that all students should be expected to master; and, be it further
RESOLVED, that the State Board of Education be encouraged to prescribe that computer literacy be included as a unit in the “essential living skills” required as a part of accreditation standards for Grades 7 and 8; and, be it further
RESOLVED, that the State Board of Education be encouraged to include a course in computer literacy on the “List of Approved Subjects and Courses” to be offered as electives in Grades 9-12; and, be it further RESOLVED, that colleges and universities be encouraged to design and offer teacher preparation programs which include the kinds of courses and experiences that are necessary for teaching computer literacy as well as other types of computer-related education; and, be it further
RESOLVED, that local school districts and education service centers be encouraged to design and conduct a comprehensive in-service program to prepare teachers to teach computer literacy courses and to use computers in many areas of education.
Texans may find themselves branded as functionally illiterate in the near future, even though they can read and write, if they do not understand and know how to interact with a computer. Within a very few years, it will be necessary to be able to use the capabilities and output of computers effectively in order to get and hold most jobs.
In this paper, the Texas Association for Educational Data Systems takes the position that a computer literacy program is an essential part of a well-balanced curriculum, and that it should be required as a part of accreditation standards
Computer literacy is defined as that minimal level of knowledge and skills concerning computer technology and usage which every student should have acquired prior to graduation from the twelfth grade. Increasing use of computers in government and industry for financial transactions, information retrieval, and training, demands an awareness of computer uses and limitations. It is important that all members of society be aware of the many uses of computers and all citizens should be prepared to interact with the computer and use its output. Persons with no understanding of computers are at a disadvantage in an information-oriented society such as we have now.
Today, virtually everyone’s life is affected either directly or indirectly by computers. The computer has made its way into the home and school, and into almost every political, industrial, commercial and scientific enterprise. Technological advances, particularly those related to computer hardware, have had an undeniable effect on business and industry and educators must be able to reflect those advances.
An analogous situation existed during the 1960’s when public attention was focused on space exploration and science technology. Private industries and government agencies such as the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) initiated programs aimed at public awareness. Organizations such as the National Science Foundation (NSF) had a tremendous impact, particularly in the field of science education, by providing for special programs on all educational levels. The effects of those programs from the 1960’s are still being felt. In fact, many of the giant steps made in computer research and development were a direct result of the monumental effort to be first and foremost in the space race. Space age technology and the computer industry have complemented each other throughout the past two decades. Today, however, computer technology is more than an integral part of the space program; it is vital to most areas of our society.
The advent of the microprocessor has added to the social impact of computer technology. Because of its versatility and relatively low cost, the microprocessor can also be a way to deliver convenient, cost-effective education to both teachers and students.
The need to educate the public is evident. Dr. J. C. Licklider of Massachusetts Institute of Technology, in a report to the National Science Foundation, points out that:
Education is not only missing a great opportunity; it is failing to discharge a crucial responsibility. The world is rapidly moving into the “information age.” In order to make the transition wisely and well, the public must understand information science and technology. People must master technology or be mastered by it.
Andrew R. Molnar, of the National Science Foundation, emphasizes the responsibility of education to incorporate computer literacy training into the curriculum in his editorial entitled, “The Microcomputer and Computer Literacy: The Catalyst for Educational Change.”
If education is to meet the challenge of the next decade it must create a computer-literate community and institutionalize the use of these new intellectual tools. ... Education will have achieved this goal only when computers and information technology are no longer viewed as an educational luxury for the small elite, but as a necessary tool for all.
The charge to educators is clear. Even as early as 1967, the President’s Science Advisory Committee said that since the computer was such a versatile and valuable tool in society, students attending schools in the 1970’s who have not been exposed to knowledge about computers will be poorly prepared for the world of the 1980’s and 1990’s. Many educators feel that although most students will not become computer technologists, the influence of the computer on future jobs is so important that all students should be made aware of the computer. Knowledge of the computer as a problem-solving tool, useful in “real world” applications, should become an integral part of the curriculum.
The responsibility for educating students in the area of computer literacy rests on the shoulders of educators. The need for computer literacy training for students is clear, although the opportunity for implementing a computer literacy program is greatly limited because many teachers do not know how to use computers and are not prepared to teach about their use and their impact on society.
In a recent survey conducted by the Minnesota Educational Computing Consortium, 85% of 1300 teachers surveyed agreed or strongly agreed that secondary school students should have at least minimal understanding of computers. However, only 39% of that group agreed or strongly agreed that their own training was adequate for using computers in instruction. In Illinois, J. Richard Dennis surveyed 686 secondary school principals and found that 7l% saw a need for computing teachers, 55% saw a need for state certification in computing, and 82% felt that some background in computing is valuable for any teacher. No formal survey has been conducted in Texas, but it is reasonable to assume that a majority of teachers are unprepared to teach computer literacy. There have been in-service programs conducted by some schools and education service centers in Texas, but these programs are only a beginning. Strong recognition and commitment are necessary on the part of the State Board of Education, local school boards, and school administrators if Texas is to meet the computer literacy challenge of the l980’s.
In summary, there is unmistakable evidence that computers have become an essential tool to our society, and that all citizens should be computer literate. In order to function effectively on a day-to-day basis in our society, citizens should be able to interact with computers and use their output. Computer literacy is a desirable outcome of contemporary education, and it should be made an essential part of a well-balanced curriculum. Teacher training in computer literacy should be incorporated into both pre service and in-service programs. If education is to meet the challenge of the information society during the next decade, the Texas Legislature and the State Board of Education must take decisive action now.
Texas Association For Educational Data Systems
P.O. Box 632
Austin, Texas 78767
|OFFICERS 1980 - 1981||DIRECTORS|
|PHILIP J. GENSLER, COP||THOMAS A HOPPER|
|Canyon, Texas||San Antonio, Texas|
|Past President||TERRY N. BISHOP|
|DON OFFERMAN||Austin, Texas|
|Austin, Texas||Junior Colleges|
|Vice President||JAMES P. COURTNEY|
|ROBERT W. (BOB) HAMILTON||Hurst, Texas|
|Amarillo, Texas||MARTIN STACY, CDP|
|Secretary||Fort Worth, Texas|
|LONNIE G. DUNKIN||GILBERT BOHUSLAV|
|Houston, Texas||Lake Jackson, Texas|
|BOB GOSS, CDP||WILLIAM BLOSE|
|San Marcos, Texas||Corpus Christi, Texas|
|HERBERT F. REBHUN|