Computer literacy is the ability to use computers and related technology efficiently, with a range of skills covering levels from elementary use to programming and advanced problem solving. Computer literacy can also refer to the comfort level someone has with using computer programs and other applications that are associated with computers. Another valuable component is understanding how computers work and operate. Computer literacy may be distinguished from computer programming which is design and coding of computer programs rather than familiarity and skill in their use.
In developed countries
Computer literacy is considered to be a very important skill to possess in developed countries. Employers want their workers to have basic computer skills because their company becomes ever more dependent on computers. Many companies try to use computers and other technology to improve business efficiency.
Computers are just as common as pen and paper are for writing, especially among youth. There seems to be an inversely proportional relationship between computer literacy and compositional literacy among first world computer users. For many applications - especially communicating - computers are preferred over pen, paper, and typewriters because of their ability to duplicate and retain information and ease of editing.
As personal computers become commonplace and they become more powerful, the concept of computer literacy is moving beyond basic functionality to more powerful applications under the heading of multimedia literacy or new literacies.
It is frequently assumed that as computer and Internet access is common-place in the first world, everyone in those countries must have equal and ready access to this technology, and to skills in how to effectively use it. There is, however, a significant digital divide in even the most technologically advanced and enabled countries, with digital haves and have-nots. Older workers who do not use the internet at home and are computer illiterate may be frozen out of the job market even for relatively unskilled jobs such as clerking in an auto parts store. In a bid to face a growing skills gap when it comes to jobs requiring computer programming skills, President Obama is planning to push the U.S. Congress for more than $4.2 billion to reboot computer science education programs in what the White House is calling an "Eisenhower moment" for technical education.
The Digital Inclusion Forum, a consortium set up through joint participation from the Wireless Internet Institute, IBM, Intel, Microsoft and Ohio's One Community, is just one organization developed to address this. Their organizational mission in this is to provide a "comprehensive resource center to inform, educate and share best practices among state and local government leaders, industry and institutional stakeholders on identifying and implementing sustainable market solutions to bridge the digital divide in North America."
A variety of private sector nonprofits and foundations also contribute to this, in addressing the needs of underserved communities. Per Scholas, for example runs programs offering free and low cost computers to children and their families in underserved communities in the South Bronx, New York, Miami, Florida and in Columbus, Ohio.
- Computer science#Education
- Digital literacy
- Digital divide
- European Computer Driving Licence
- New literacies
- Computerized Manufacturing Automation: Employment, Education and the Workplace, Washington, US Congress of Technology Assessment, OTA CIT-235 April 1984, page 234
- Plese, Susan (12 August 2002). "Have Computers Robbed Us of Basic Thinkings Skills?". Hartford Courant. Retrieved 10 February 2015.
- "Educational Initiatives Focusing on Computer Literacy & Online Education". Online Schools Offering Laptops. Retrieved 30 January 2015.
- Edward Wyatt (18 August 2013). "Most of U.S. Is Wired, but Millions Aren’t Plugged In". The New York Times. Retrieved 19 August 2013.
- Korte, Gregory (30 January 2016). "Obama seeks $4B for computer science classes". USA Today. Retrieved 8 February 2016.
- "The Digital Inclusion Forum". Retrieved February 2011.
- "The Wireless Internet Institute". Retrieved February 2011.
- "One Community". Retrieved February 2011.
- "Per Scholas; Affordable Technology Finally Available to Bronx Residents". Pediatrics Week: 42. 27 August 2011.