Reading, Writing, Arithmetic, and ICT

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With the advent of the World Wide Web and all of its technologies we have come to a paradigm shift in our society. The bulk of wealth creation used to come from agriculture, then came the  industrial revolution.  In the 21st century the bulk of wealth creation shall come from Information and Communication Technologies, ICT.  We cannot ignore this change if the US is going to stay as a world leader.

In an important study conducted by The Mid-Pacific ICT Center (MPICT), the California Community College ICT Collaborative and Centers of Excellence, and Davis Research 782 California employer representatives with direct knowledge of ICT workforce needs were asked to validate foundational technical competencies in the U.S.

We see the following important results:

Based on survey results, we can say with a 99% level of confidence that 85.2% of California employers with direct knowledge of their organization’s ICT workforce needs, very much agree or agree with the statement:
“In the 21st century, an ability to work with information and communication technologies is becoming as essential to education, life and workplace success as “reading, writing and arithmetic”.  ICT Digital Literacy should be considered a basic skill by educational systems, something taught to and assessed for all students.”
In addition, the average level of employer agreement to keep detailed Fundamental IT Skills (“Digital Literacy”) competencies in the model was 91%. So, we now have an actionable, teachable and assessable definition of what Digital Literacy means.

California’s leaders have the opportunity to move beyond the simple recognition that Digital Literacy is a critical 21st century issue, by taking action to assure that all of its students and citizens can use technology to improve their lives, career prospects and society.

Computer Literacy is as important as Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic.  Computers have become so important in EVERY job field that Digital Literacy needs to be a part of EVERY educational program.

According to the same report cited above, the following Digital Literacy topics are the Student Learning Outcomes important to all students. They are called the “Fundamental IT User Skills”, which is defined as the ability of “using a computer, communication devices, and related applications to input, retrieve, and communicate information”.  The topics are:

<Click on the arrows on the left of each topic to see it’s objectives>

1.  General Computer, Software, Information and Communication Technology Knowledge and Skills

  • Demonstrate familiarity with the fundamental capabilities of computers, software, information systems, and communications systems.
  • Demonstrate familiarity with the fundamental principles of accessible technology, including universal design, as they relate to users of computerized content who have disabilities, sensory and/or functional limitations.
  • Understand terminology and function of common computer, software, information and communication
  • technology devices, components, and concepts.
  • Understand common terminology related to the use of technology by people with disabilities and/or sensory and functional limitations, including accessible IT, assistive technology, and universal design
  • Understand and efficiently use common computer hardware (e.g., desktops, laptops, tablets, PC
  • components, , cabling), software (e.g., operating systems, applications, communication, collaboration and productivity software) and communication devices (e.g., telephony, wireless devices, network and wireless systems) to perform tasks and communicate effectively.
  • Be able to connect common User devices to networks and secure them appropriately.
  • Understand and be able to use with appropriate etiquette common communications media, including wired
  • and wireless telephones, audio conferences, video conferences and online collaboration tools.
  • Use a computer to search for online information and interact with websites and web applications (enterprise solutions, online stores, blogs, social networks, wikis).
  • Understand how to critically evaluate online information and be aware of relevant copyright and data protection issues.

2.  Digital Literacy

  • Demonstrate ability to create authentic meaningful written and artwork by reproducing and manipulating preexisting digital text, visuals, and audio pieces.
  • Demonstrate ability to construct knowledge by a nonlinear navigation through knowledge domains, such as in the Internet and other hypermedia environments.
  • Demonstrate ability to critically evaluate the textual characteristics of digital media alongside their social, economic and cultural implications.
  • Visualize graphic representation of concepts or data.

3.  Common IT Applications Use

  • Use word processing applications to compose, organize, and edit simple documents and other business communications, and produce accurate outputs to print or share electronically.
  • Use standard formulas and functions, format and modify content, and demonstrate competence in creating and formatting spreadsheets, graphs, or charts.
  • Use spatial software to locate places and interpret spatial data.
  • Use and manage electronic mail to communicate with appropriate etiquette.
  • Use Internet applications to search for information.
  • Use presentation software to effectively share information and ideas.
  • Understand and be able to use simple databases.
  • Use spreadsheet, database, and presentation software both independently and in an integrated fashion.
  • Use audio and video recording equipment and software to produce digital audio and video records and communications.
  • Manage file storage: use functions to store, retrieve, and sort documents.
  • Understand social media and their appropriate workplace uses.
  • Double check work carefully and identify/correct typographical, grammatical and other errors.

4.  Cyber Safety

  • Understand the importance of privacy and potential abuses of private information.
  • Be able to stay safe in an online, networked environment.
  • Understand the importance of updating and using the most recent security software, web browser, and operating system to protect against malware, and other online threats.
  • Recognize and respond appropriately to suspicious vulnerabilities and threats: web sites, web links, emails,
  • posts, online advertisements, phishing, virus infections, etc.
  • Recognize secure web addresses, e.g., “https://” or “shttp://”
  • Protect and manage your personally identifiable information.
  • Understand and use privacy and security settings on social networking applications to share only appropriate personal information.
  • Review the privacy policy and understand what data (location, access to social networks) an application can access prior to downloading and installing.
  • Understand the risk of connecting to an unsecured or unprotected network.
  • Use strong passwords, passphrases and basic encryption.

5.  Information and Research Literacy

  • Define: Be able to define a problem that needs information in order to be solved.
  • Access: Search, find and retrieve appropriate information relative to the task.
  • Manage: Apply an organizational or classification system to organize retrieved information.
  • Evaluate: Be able to judge the quality, relevance, usefulness, efficiency, and adequacy of information and information sources for the defined purpose (including the authority, bias and timelines of information).
  • Integrate: Interpret and represent data and information gathered, using quality management tools to organize, compare, contrast, summarize and synthesize information from multiple sources.
  • Create: Adapt, apply, design or author information resulting from the research that describes the researchand its analysis and findings, facilitates decision-making, and develops conclusions and recommendations.
  • Communicate: Communicate that research and its findings effectively and efficiently in person and through written, visual, and digital media in a way that is appropriate for the intended audience.

6.  Hardware

  • Central processing unit (CPU)
  • Memory – random-access memory (RAM) and read-only memory (ROM)
  • Storage media, e.g., internal hard disk, external hard disk, network drive, CD, DVD, USB, flash drive, memory card.
  • Input/output ports, e.g., USB, serial, parallel, network port, FireWire, ICT: Foundational ICT Competency Employer Demand in California Appendix F |60
  • Input devices, e.g., mouse, keyboard, trackball, scanner, touchpad, stylus, joystick, web camera, digital camera, microphone, voice recognition, remote control, and head, mouth, and eye operated controllers
  • Output devices, e.g., screens/monitors, printers, speakers, headphones
  • Assistive technology devices, e.g., voice recognition software, screen reader, screen magnifier, on-screen keyboard, closed captioning, text-to-speech.
* Copy of this important report can be found at:


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