Page 54 - Campus Technology, March/April 2020
P. 54

Don’t Miss Computational
Thinking in Your Digital
Literacy Program
How can we adjust digital literacy programs to address the growing need for problem solving skills and the ability to use data to identify patterns and processes that lead to better solutions?
By Mary Grush
MOST COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES have, for what seems like a very long time, addressed digital literacy for their students. We may see it represented in general education objectives or integrated into curricula in various ways. Digital literacy initiatives can range from freshman orientation components, to proficiency requirements for degree programs, to whole courses offered for credit. But one thing is clear: We all want our students to gain the competencies they’ll need to function well in a world increasingly linked to digital tools and digitized information.
Many digital literacy programs focus on common tools, and on information search and sourcing. But others are exploring computational and data skills as well. Here, CT asked Mark Frydenberg, Bentley University’s (MA) senior lecturer of computer information systems and director of the university’s CIS Sandbox, about computational thinking in relation to digital literacy.
Campus Technology: What are some of the elements digital literacy programs have tended to include up until now?
Mark Frydenberg: I remember when I was in high school, you were “computer literate” if you could write a program in BASIC on a Digital Equipment Corporation VAX computer, that read 10 PRINT “My Name is Mark” 20 GO TO 10. Times have changed. By the time microcomputers came around, computer literacy meant you knew how to navigate a DOS or Windows operating system, run existing programs, use basic spreadsheet and word processing software, and save files to a disk. As the internet became commonplace, computer literacy evolved into digital or technology literacy: Skills related to using a search engine effectively, browsing the web and sending e-mail became important. In the web 2.0 era, digital literacy also included using social media, creating user-generated content, collaborating with online office apps and understanding basic ideas around storing and sharing files in the cloud. Today, digital literacy encompasses all these topics, as well as mobile devices and apps, cybersecurity awareness, augmented and virtual reality, open source software and how to use current technologies effectively and ethically.

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