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Cal State will soon demand technological literacy

Students are hip to tech but their knowledge is actually spotty and naive, so California State Universities will soon require a competency test.
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Written by ZDNet Editors, Contributors on

California State Universities have writing and English language proficiency tests, and soon they will have a technological literacy test. Inside Higher Ed reports that many students, despite their comfort with all things Internet and iPod, may not have the necessary skills to operate successfully in the ever-changing information landscape.

The California State University, in conjunction with Educational Testing Service, is putting the final stages on a technological literacy test that gauges students' tech competency. Students would have to pass that test in order to move on to higher-level courses.

"People are good at learning technologies, but they are not so good at applying them," said Barbara O'Connor, a professor of communications at California State University at Sacramento.

One of the problems with designing a test on technological literacy is that the technology evolves so quickly.

"We're now working on our next white paper and we're struggling to define technology literacy. There are more questions than answers because a couple of years ago we didn't even have podcasts," said Diana Oblinger, vice president for Educause, a nonprofit group that deals with technology issues in higher education.

Cal State has been working on improving students' and teachers' skills in this area for more than a decade. They offered workshops for instructors and librarians and grants to allow faculty and librarians to redesign courses. Cal State also help different academic departments incorporate information technology literacy into their curriculums.

"We feel that the test is almost in final form," said Lorie Roth, assistant vice chancellor for academics at CSU. "We look at this as foundation skills that all students should have just like math and writing."

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