Talk:Computer literacy

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Digital Literacy vs. Computer Literacy[edit]

Taking a step back from the versions of literacy of technology, we have to understand the root of the topic. How far is it from digital to computers? Is that something like the distance between essay or writing style are from reading comprehension, retention or application? They are analogues. The base term "Literacy" is what's more important. Digital is to analog as computers are to the printed word or written and mailed letter rather. Within those realms after thousands of years of practice and study we can become so specialized we become professors and doctors of printed language. From the form of technical applications to abstract studies such as poems. Using that as a metaphor for our understanding of electrons versus the practical impact of computers, lets focus less on vacuum tubes and more on common factors of how these things implicate our world and our interactions. Those things are repetitious and it's human nature. Is it not better to discuss the human factor rather then the evolving details of the object? I think the implications of the technology and it's social impact are different enough to not combine the two subject's. Mrdtlv (talk) 19:17, 11 February 2010 (UTC)

Digital literacy is different from computer literacy. It's definition can be found on the article page, but computer literacy is understanding how to turn on a computer, use a mouse or trackpad, etc. Digital literacy is more about finding and organizing information then about which OS someone should run, etc. I would throw out a bunch of citations on this matter but they are probably of no use to Wikipedia since they are held in online journal repositories that require a membership or access through a library to view/download them. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 02:08, 5 March 2009 (UTC)

Please include your references, whether they are available for free online or not is not important, the important thing is whether they are reliable and NPOV or not.--Thorseth (talk) 20:37, 19 September 2009 (UTC)

drmjb (talk) 23:32, 10 September 2008 (UTC)Seems just a little bit POV - "Computer literacy is just as important as literacy, the ability to read and write" is particularly notable. teucer 02:04, 2 May 2005 (UTC)

I agree with you, teucer. I have added the {{pov check}} template to the page. Maxistheman 1 July 2005 21:00 (UTC)

I agree. There were a whole lot more POV´s. I removed the wrong POV and replaced it with my own.Zanaq 4 July 2005 02:29 (UTC)

Computer literacy is a subset of Digital literacy. Computer literacy is competency with regard to computer hardware. Digital literacy is competency with regard to software, hardware, systems and methodologies that are subject to and/or related to the production, consumption or use of digital media, tools, applications and content, or to the digitization of media or content, and both in a variety of contexts (including, increasingly, academic settings, where things like the affordances of social media applications in the classroom, or possibility of a digital classroom, are examined). Just saying. A redirect or merger is not an innocent act. I don't see a good defense for it. (drmjb (talk) 22:32, 18 September 2009 (UTC))

From an outsider's perspective, it's hard to see what the difference is meant to be. No computer literacy course is going to stop with just a Naming of Parts but instead will talk about what you can *do* with the computer. Is there an authority we can find that clearly distingusihes what is meant? --Wtshymanski (talk) 17:12, 19 September 2009 (UTC)

From a teacher's point of view, computer literacy is about the tool you use to achieve digital literacy. Digital literacy involves higher order thinking skills including Synthesis and Evaluation - see Bloom's Taxonomy ( /researchskills/dalton.htm) . —Preceding unsigned comment added by Rene wdyte (talkcontribs) 04:40, 3 December 2009 (UTC)

drbexlAgreed, digital literacy is DIFFERENT from computer literacy ... the second is more about technical literacy, whilst the first is more about a bigger issue - e.g online socialisation, managing time so being online is not just a big 'timesuck'. I went to a talk about a project (, which has defined digital literacy as: Digital Literacy is defined as the confident and critical use of ICT for work, leisure, learning and communication, the recognition of different contexts was seen as key. 03:20, 24 September 2010 (GMT)

daveplml Also agreed that digital literacy IS DIFFERENT from computer literacy. Both spaces have domain-specific research; this indicates to me that they should be separate entities and entries. Neither is a subset of the other; and although there are similarities between the two, digital literacy typically focuses on a broad range of reading and writing, whereas computer literacy is typically used to tightly describe the skills and abilities associated with using a computer, e.g., "understanding what computer hardware and software can do"[1] . For references in the digital literacy space, see Julie Corio and Donald Leu. Daveplml (talk) 19:38, 24 April 2013 (UTC)


There are numerous grammatical and mechanical issues in this article. I've eliminated a few, but a complete revision would be helpful. The writing style of the article needs improvement, too, in the sense that this article is not fully encyclopedic. Any thoughts? --weixifan 00:19, 4 November 2007 (UTC)

1st world?[edit]

i dont see the relevance of 1st world in this subject or how computer literacy is more necesary in a 1st world vs 2nd or 3rd world. i cant speak for other countries, but i know first hand that americans are not very computer literate when compared to supposed 2nd and 3rd world countries like china or india.

uhhh... look at USA unix nerds... —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 07:24, 5 March 2010 (UTC)

Verifiability: lack of citations[edit]

This article deserves a bit more more work! I've added links to ECDL and Literacy to get a few more people noticing the problem. --Mereda 09:18, 27 May 2006 (UTC)

And here it is four years later and not one citation. Google Books gives 28,000 hits on the phrase "Computer literacy" with preview or full view...maybe we could put one or two citations in? --Wtshymanski (talk) 14:29, 19 October 2010 (UTC)
I'd put in more citations myself but I've honestly never visited this article before and doubt I will ever visit it again. Why do we even need this article? (talk) 06:05, 21 September 2011 (UTC)

Levels of computer literacy[edit]

Perhaps this article should deal more with basic computer literacy (like how to perform a web search or create a document; note that I mean these to be criteria rather than someone needing to write a guide to that;)) rather than saying that to be computer literate, you must know what an algorithm is, and why computers can't create random numbers. Those are just 2 examples, and neither of them is necessary to be able to use a computer effectively to perform a task that might be required at a job which isn't computer-centric.

To me, this article seems like an attack on computer newbies (particularly the Aspects of Computer Literacy section). A user does not need to know everything there is to know to operate a computer, just like a car owner does not need to know how to change his brakes. Just something future editors should keep in mind... 06:35, 17 November 2006 (UTC)

I agree with the idea that the article should deal with the basics. Maybe if the introduction described literacy in general and then went to "functional literacy". That is an easy split made in many other forms of literacy discussions. Define the general and the basic form. The previous example of a car is a very good example of functional literacy. The term literacy seems to bend towards the "functional" variety, not the "knowledgable" variety that we tend to think of. This article is in the right direction I believe. Again, the idea of the car given previously is (I think) the perfect essence of (functional) literacy. Any article dealing with literacy should lead in that direction (even reading). Otherwise it quickly becomes way too open ended very fast. Syscore 04:07, 5 February 2007 (UTC)

Sure, you can be skilled driver without knowing anything about how to maintain nor build a car. (Note that the things listed under aspects of literacy mention nothing about building or fixing a computer.) However, there aren't a significant number of drivers who don't understand the basic laws of physics (even if they can't name them). There are a significant number of computer users who don't understand the basic laws of computing. It is good to know the limitations of the machine you are operating. Therefore, IMHO, limiting the discussion to just functional literacty is to constraining.

Also, it is worth mentioning, that in the case of the computer, every application will have it's own grocery list of things they consider functional literacy. For example, the list of media literacy topics. So, if you are to go that route, the list of literacy attributes is an ever growing list.

Don't let your own ignorances limit this discussion 03:30, 28 February 2007 (UTC)

Various levels of understanding[edit]

I think that levels are important. The base level should include the ability to switch on a computer, use a web browser, to search, and to send/receive email. Other easy to use tools such as video players, audio players etc. could also be considered at this level.

A higher level could include some of: the ability to read HTML source code, the ability to write HTML source code, the ability to put up a web page on a server, the ability to use CSS to modify the appearance of a web page.

There are other almost equally valid clusters of ability, such as the ability to read a program in a languages such as C++, the ability to write a program in such a language, the ability to install and run a program once written.

Yet another skill set could be to install a commercial package on a stand alone machine. Note that some skills change where networks are involved.

Understanding is important too, but not always necessary. Someone who knows about virtual memory and relationships between physical memory and virtual memory size may (but not always ...) be in a much better position to understand why programs do not always run at the hoped for speed.

Someone who knows about security threats may be able to detect problems in a computer, and hopefully also avoid them.

Where do we draw the line between what might be considered essential literacy and advanced? Should everyone understand functional programming or logic programming? (Probably not!) What about knowledge of low level execution - sequential execution (Von Neumann architectures), parallel systems etc.?

There are issues about how much knowledge should be expected by experts and how much by more general users. Memory issues may be particularly important when new operating systems are released. Users of older machines who "upgrade" to the new software may find that they take a terrific performance hit. While a simple solution may be to buy a completely new set of hardware, and indeed with continually reducing prices this may be economic for many, often an acceptable solution may be to simply install new memory, or one or two new devices. Computer literacy should include knowledge of hardware and media as well as of programs. Simple things, such as it will always take a long while to write a DVD using an older 1x or 2x DVD writer (such as were quite widely used even a few years ago), or that using 2x DVD media in a writer will also force even a fast writer to slow down, are easy enough to teach, and may not matter for many users - until they actually want to write DVDs. Awareness of hardware and performance could well be considered part of computer literacy, as over a long period of time this can have an impact on decisions which may have economic and performance related impact.

Yet another aspect is the human-computer interface. Users should understand the differences between the use of CRT and flat screen displays, and also why it might be a good idea to use screens with much greater desktop area (for example to show two documents side by side ...). HCI issues can have a big impact on productivity and how computers are perceived by users. Such awareness is not only necessary for end users, but also for managers etc. A manager who is convinced that use of 15 inch CRT monitors is adequate, and will provide cheap hardware may well overlook the possible benefits which could arise if his employees are given larger screens and better equipment, where the increased cost of hardware could easily be offset by increases in productivity, and/or general motivation of staff ("we use new equipment, rather than 5 year old kit ...")

Quality and reliability issues may also be important. Regarding quality, while most of us may not worry about colour quality in printers and displays (up to a point), in some areas of work it may be very important that displays and printers are calibrated and accurate for high quality work. While it may be possible to use very high quality equipment in applications which do not require high levels of specification, the converse is definitely not true.

Should users also be aware of technological progress? Moore's "Law", or Roberts' "Law" for communications? What about open-source programs versus proprietary? Standards?

There's a lot to know - much of it isn't very difficult, but without awareness of some of this users may find it difficult to operate effectively.

David Martland 08:48, 24 April 2007 (UTC)

Engineer Bias?[edit]

To me, it seems that most of the article as well as this discussion has an "engineer bias". Don't get me wrong, of course "computer literacy" or digital literacy implies some technical knowledge, but are the various lists really examples of what the ordinary computer literate person absolutely, above all, needs to know? Most of it looks like a list of some engineer's or tech-support person's frustrations with clueless users, camouflaged as "topics". Do you have to be a programmer to be completely "literate"???

I believe that we need much more reference to research on the matter, after all there are scientific journals dedicated to this topic. We should look to them for more serious definitions. Now, I don't think a proper definition is easy to come by, but that's also part of my point. The whole article should start out with acknowledging that it is a term under much discussion.

Here's another source, by the way. This one emphasizes critical reading over various levels of technical knowledge. I think that's very important. Focus on the real implications and forget about the small technicalities. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Diskonaut (talkcontribs) 19:52, 6 October 2007 (UTC)

Incorrect Redirect[edit]

Apropos of the above reference to bias, I would like to point out that this page incorrectly redirects from the query "Digital Literacy." I don't know how to intervene in such a redirect, but I do care to investigate the matter. In the meantime, consider that Digital Literacy and Computer Literacy are not identical terms. They are used in different contexts, represent separate industries, and are defined by different interests. Therefore, their literacy (measurements of and disciplines for acquiring competency and comprehension) each have different parameters. The faculties of Universities expanding their Library Sciences programs are concerned with Digital Archiving and Digital Literacy, not Computer Archiving (if there even is such a thing) and Computer Literacy. The usage of these terms is quite distinct, and it is incorrect to colonize the term Digital Literacy under the rubric of Computer Literacy, as has been done here. Computer literacy refers to a competency with respect to a tool. Digital literacy refers to a competency with respect to the production and organization of data and knowledge (i.e., learning) systems, which may include an examination of computers and other tools used in that enterprise. drmjb (talk) 23:32, 10 September 2008 (UTC)

inserted by Moursund[edit]

Removed the large section inserted at the top of the article [Special:Contributions/Moursund|Moursund], reproduced below. Should be trimmed down and put a separate section, I think. -Grick(talk to me!) 05:51, 29 April 2009 (UTC)


The term computer literacy is usually attributed to Arthur Luehrmann. At an April 1972 American Federation of Information Processing Societies (AFIPS) conference, Luehrmann gave a talk titled "Should the computer teach the student, or vice-versa." This talk was later published in Robert Taylor's 1980 book, The Computer in the School: Tutor, Tool, Tutee (Teachers College Press). The paper is available online.

As pointed out in Moursund (1983), the term computer literacy is used in the April 1972 document: Conference Board of the Mathematical Sciences Committee on Computer Education "Recommendations Regarding Computers in High School Education," Quoting from April 1972 committee report:

We recommend the preparation of a junior high school course in "computer literacy" designed to provide students with enough information about the nature of a computer so they can understand the roles which computers play in our society.

The focus of the committee report was on computers in math education. Luehrmann provided a much broader point of view.

In his 1972 paper, Luehrmann used the term computing literacy rather than computer literacy. Evidently readers of his paper and other people people began using the term computer literacy rather than computing literacy. In 1981, the company he helped to found was named Computer Literacy Press.

Here is a quote from the 1972 paper. It provides Luehrmann's 1972 insights into what he means by computing literacy:

If the computer is so powerful a resource that it can be programmed to simulate the instructional process, shouldn’t we be teaching our students mastery of this powerful intellectual tool? Is it enough that a student be the subject of computer administered instruction—the enduser of a new technology? Or should his education also include learning to use the computer (1) to get information in the social sciences from a large database inquiry system, or (2) to simulate an ecological system, or (3) to solve problems by using algorithms, or (4) to acquire laboratory data and analyze it, or (5) to represent textual information for editing and analysis, or (6) to represent musical information for analysis, or (7) to create and process graphical information? These uses of computers in education cause students to become masters of computing, not merely its subjects.

Luehrman's more recent insights are available in a 2002 article, "Should the computer teach the student... — 30 years later." In this article, he laments that the world's educational systems have not made much progress in integrating computer literacy instruction throughput the everyday curriculum. Quoting from the 2002 article:

And how have things turned out? That's easy. Out of Taylor's trichotomy, [Tutor, Tool, Tutee] teaching tool use is just about the only impact that computers have had on schools. Walk into any middle or high school and ask to see the computers. Most will be found clustered in a computer lab, not in the classrooms. Go to the lab and ask a student what he or she is doing. The most likely answer is, "I'm working on a word processing (or spreadsheet, or database, or graphics) assignment for my computer applications class." They're learning computer tools, in short, even though they rarely use them outside the applications class.


It has been suggested that computer literacy be merged into digital literacy. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 12:56, 26 August 2010 (UTC)

Bad Tone[edit]

The overall tone of this article is not acceptable for an encyclopedia entry. The pronoun "we" is used liberally throughout the ENTIRE article, and the piece seems to represent an argument. I'm not sure how an article can end up so uniformly off-tone, there doesn't seem to be a common editor in the offending sections.

Rule of thumb: encyclopedia ariticles should be written as if they were intended to be read by aliens. The piece must be neutral, free from social or cultural distinguishes, and NOT REFER TO IT'S AUDIENCE AS "WE". —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 12:18, 24 March 2011 (UTC)

Non-encyclopedic writing style[edit]

Agree completely with the above. The article is in first-person for some reason and sounds like an essay. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 06:13, 6 March 2012 (UTC)

Please, be bold, and fix it! This article could sorely use a copy edit, and more importantly, more sources. — Mr. Stradivarius 09:11, 6 March 2012 (UTC)
    • ^ Horton, J. "Information Literacy vs. Computer Literacy". Bulletin of the American Society for Information Science 9 (4): 14–16.