Beyond STEAM: Computer Literacy and Your Future (WEBINAR)

BEEC’s webinar from May 15 has Director of Education Peter Alexander and COO Jonathan Ginsberg discussing some of the ways computer literacy affects us. Topics include:

  • What is computer literacy and why is it important?
  • Isn’t this computer science?
  • Computer Literacy and the classroom: are you in trouble?
  • How to be a tech whiz and computationally illiterate.
  • Knowing the problem, what’s the solution?

A computer literate person is not afraid of computers, knows how to use the internet, knows the limits of computer solutions, and can think and speak algorithmically. Algorithms, according to Alexander, are “the art of procedural knowledge.” Formally, algorithms can be defined as a set of clearly defined instructions to perform a specific task. This is closely related to the idea of functions in mathematics.

A formal definition of computer literacy is a commanding power of language which equips us with the capacity for analogical reasoning, procedural explication, temperate evaluation, and ordinate judgement. In contrast, the computationally illiterate are stuck in a language rut; that is, they can’t communicate their needs and knowledge. Furthermore, they are often easily impressed with useless gizmos and easy prey for tricksters.

The computationally literate and illiterate respond to problems differently. This table is a good visual representation of the differing responses:

Orientation Toward Computationally Literate Computationally Illiterate
Product Failure Typical Crisis
Product Promise Skeptical Salvation
UX Failure Designer’s Issue My Fault

Generally, those who are computationally illiterate have contempt for creativity, complexity, and caution, and they are impressed by image, intelligence, and imprudence. On the other hand, those who are computationally literate collaborate with creativity, complexity, and caution, and they ignore image, intelligence, imprudence.

Contrary to what some may believe, computer literacy is not necessarily taken care of in a good computer science program. Computer science is merely an aspect of computer literacy, and it may not even be a required one given that computer literacy can and does exist without computer science knowledge.

In schools, computer literacy is taught at a marginal level through computer skills. These skills create a false sense of computer literacy because students can rarely connect what they are learning to larger issues and questions. In this way, Common Core fails to develop computationally literate students.

All is not lost, however, because there are options for students who wish to become computationally literate. Some options include information technology mentorship and coaching, application-specific support decks, application-specific user groups, information technology and applications software consulting, and friends in similar situations.

For information on how BEEC can help you with computer literacy, contact us here.

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