Master of Arts in Educational Technology (OMET) Pepperdine University  
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Book Review
  Technically Speaking: Why All Americans Need to Know More About Technology

Our instructor asked us to read a book (in addition to our required reading) that focuses on using technology to enhance learning, from the lens of a specific type of learning activity. I selected this particular book for a few reasons: first and foremost it met and exceeded the Instructor’s criteria. Secondly, I am, to a very remote degree, working with the book’s editor, Greg Pearson, on the NAEP Technological Literacy Framework. Third and final reason, the book is an interesting study of where American’s are with technological literacy and where we should be and how to get there. I wholeheartedly agree that there is an urgent need for technological literacy. We need to become better stewards of technological change than we have been and begin placing a higher priority on technological literacy.

Technically Speaking is actually a report, the final product of a two-year study by the Committee on Technological Literacy and the Center for Education (part of the NRC). The goal was to come to a common understanding of what technology literacy is and how important it is to the nation. Evidence shows that neither the educational system nor the policy makers recognize the importance of technological literacy. The report is direct at groups that are “well positioned to influence the development of technological literacy” (p. 2).

The authors make an attempt to define technological literacy using three interdependent dimensions of knowledge, ways of thinking and acting and capabilities. They also point out that our nation does not appreciate the value of technological literacy therefore we have not achieved it. Sadly enough, American students are not as tech savvy as their international counterparts.

The emphases is on starting a campaign that would address both “formal and informal learning; research; decision making; and teaching excellence and educational innovation” (p. 8). The “ultimate goal,” of this crusade, was to increase the number of people who are knowledgeable, thoughtful and capable with respect to technology” (p. 103). After all, technology has been around a very long time. Unfortunately people assume it only means computers, where in fact, technological literacy encompasses practical and philosophical participation. Technology is “integral to everything we do and can do” (p. 48). At the heart of the matter is that we need to close the digital divide and leave no one behind. The authors note that “technology affects society, but society does not affect technology” it is therefore “independent of human direction” (p. 52). Technology, they say, has become “more invisible” and “our human connection to it has changed” (p. 71).

As a starting point, the well-informed authors present eleven excellent recommendations that would increase the visibility of technology and integrate technology content into K-12 standards, curricula, assessments, etc. into nontechnology subject areas in US schools.