Computer literacy

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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.[1][2] By another measure, computer literacy requires some understanding of computer programming and how computers work.[3]

In the United Kingdom[edit]


In the United Kingdom, the BBC Computer Literacy Project, which ran from 1980 to 1989, educated a generation of coders in schools and at home, prior to the development of mass market PCs in the 1990s.[4][5]

The ZX Spectrum, released in 1982, helped to popularize home computing, coding and gaming in Britain and was also popular in other countries.[6][7][8]

Primary and secondary education[edit]

Computer programing skills were introduced into the National Curriculum in 2014.[9][10]


The government published a 'digital skills strategy' in 2017.[11][12][13]

In the United States[edit]

Primary and secondary education[edit]

In the United States, students are introduced to tablet computers in preschool or kindergarten. Tablet computers are preferred for their small size and touchscreens.[14] The touch user interface of a tablet computer is more accessible to the under-developed motor skills of young children.[15] Early childhood educators use student-centered instruction to guide the young student through various activities on the tablet computer.[16] Often this includes web browsing and the use of applications, familiarizing the young student with a basic level of computer proficiency.[15]

Teaching computer literacy to students in secondary school may improve their thinking skills and employability, but most teachers lack the understanding and classroom time to teach computer programming.[17]

Nataraj (2014) found that many college freshmen in the United States had insufficient computer skills. After freshmen completed a computer literacy course, there was a significant improvement in their understanding of the course material.[18]

Digital divide[edit]

In the US job market, computer illiteracy severely limits employment options.[19]

Non-profit organizations such as Per Scholas attempt to reduce the divide by offering free and low-cost computers to children and their families in underserved communities in South Bronx, New York, Miami, Florida, and in Columbus, Ohio.[20]

See also[edit]




  1. ^ "Computerized Manufacturing Automation: Employment, Education, and the Workplace" (PDF) (OTA CIT-235). National Technical Information Service. April 1984: 234.
  2. ^ Haigh, Robert W. (March–April 1985). "Planning for Computer Literacy". The Journal of Higher Education. 56 (2): 161–171. doi:10.2307/1981664. JSTOR 1981664.
  3. ^ Tobin, Catherine D. (February 1983). "Developing Computer Literacy". The Arithmetic Teacher. 30 (6): 22–23, 60. JSTOR 41190615.
  4. ^ "BBC releases computer history archive". BBC News. 2018-06-27. Retrieved 2018-06-27.
  5. ^ "BBC Computer Literacy Project Archive". Retrieved 2018-06-27.
  6. ^ "Sinclair Spectrum designer Rick Dickinson dies in US". BBC News. 26 April 2018. Retrieved 27 April 2018.
  7. ^ Kelion, Leo (23 April 2012). "Sinclair's ZX Spectrum turns 30". BBC News. Retrieved 26 April 2018.
  8. ^ O'Regan, Gerard (21 June 2016). Introduction to the History of Computing: A Computing History Primer. Springer. ISBN 9783319331386.
  9. ^ Dredge, Stuart (2014-09-04). "Coding at school: a parent's guide to England's new computing curriculum". the Guardian. Retrieved 2018-06-29.
  10. ^ "National curriculum in England: computing programmes of study". GOV.UK. Retrieved 2018-06-29.
  11. ^ "Government sets out digital strategy". BBC News. 2017-03-01. Retrieved 2018-06-29.
  12. ^ "UK Digital Strategy". GOV.UK. Retrieved 2018-06-29.
  13. ^ "Digital Skills in the United Kingdom" (PDF). House of Lords Library Briefing. 10 August 2017.
  14. ^ Neumann, Michelle M.; Neumann, David L. (4 September 2013). "Touch Screen Tablets and Emergent Literacy". Early Childhood Education Journal. 42 (4): 231. doi:10.1007/s10643-013-0608-3.
  15. ^ a b Blackwell, Courtney K.; Lauricella, Alexis R.; Wartella, Ellen (1 July 2016). "The Influence of TPACK Contextual Factors on Early Childhood Educators' Tablet Computer Use". Computers & Education. 98: 57–69. doi:10.1016/j.compedu.2016.02.010.
  16. ^ Beschorner, Beth; Hutchison, Amy (2013). "iPads as a Literacy Teaching Tool in Early Childhood" (PDF). International Journal of Education in Mathematics, Science and Technology. 1 (1): 16–24.
  17. ^ Hannum, Wallace (February–March 1992). "Reconsidering Computer Literacy: A Critique of Current Efforts". The High School Journal. 74 (3): 152–159. JSTOR 40364597.
  18. ^ Nataraj, Sam (2014). "The Need for an Introductory Computer Literacy Course at the University Level" (PDF). International Journal of Business Management & Economic Research. 5 (4): 71–3.
  19. ^ Wyatt, Edward (18 August 2013). "Most of U.S. Is Wired, but Millions Aren't Plugged In". The New York Times. Retrieved 2013-08-19.
  20. ^ "Per Scholas; Affordable Technology Finally Available to Bronx Residents". Pediatrics Week: 42. 27 August 2011.