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. By another measure, computer literacy requires some understanding of computer programming and how computers work.
Computer literacy is different from digital literacy. Digital literacy refers to the ability to communicate or find information from the Internet. Digital literacy improves computer literacy to a certain extent.
The arguments for computers in classrooms are primarily vocational or practical. They are based on assumptions that computers will be pervasive in the workplace of the future, or that they are soon going to be 'everywhere'. Computer users should learn to distinguish which skills they want to improve, and be more purposeful and accurate in their use of these skills. By learning more about computer literacy, users can discover more computer functions that are worth using.
With more interaction between computers and technology (audio, video, communications, etc), rapid changes in technology make it very difficult to predict the next five years. Computer literacy projects have support in many countries because they conform to general political and economic principles of those countries' public and private organizations. The web offers great potential for effective and widespread dissemination of knowledge and for the integration and coordination of technological advances. Improvements in computer literacy facilitate this.
Writing to learn can improve computer literacy.
In the United Kingdom
In the United Kingdom, the BBC Computer Literacy Project, using the BBC Micro computer, ran from 1980 to 1989. This initiative educated a generation of coders in schools and at home, prior to the development of mass market PCs in the 1990s.
The ZX Spectrum, released in 1982, helped to popularize home computing, coding and gaming in Britain and Europe. A number of prominent video game developers emerged in Britain in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
Primary and secondary education
In the United States
Primary and secondary education
In the United States, students are introduced to tablet computers in preschool or kindergarten. Tablet computers are preferred for their small size and touchscreens. The touch user interface of a tablet computer is more accessible to the under-developed motor skills of young children. Early childhood educators use student-centered instruction to guide the young student through various activities on the tablet computer. Often this includes web browsing and the use of applications, familiarizing the young student with a basic level of computer proficiency.
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.
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.
In the US job market, computer illiteracy severely limits employment options.
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.
- Computer science § Education
- List of computer science topics
- Digital divide
- Digital literacy
- Web literacy
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