Making the Case for Technological Literacy

Project Status
November 25, 2013
National Science Foundation and Battelle Memorial Institute
Final Report
Technically Speaking:Why All Americans Need to Know More About Technology
Authoring InstitutionNational Academy of Engineering and National Research Council
Publication DateMarch 13, 2002
  • Jan172002
    National Symposium on Technological Literacy
    This one-day event marked the release of Technically Speaking: Why All Americans Need to Know More About Technology . This report, from a committee of experts convened by the National Academy of Engineering and the National Research Council, concludes that although the United States is ...
    National Academies Auditorium
    Washington, DC
  • Mar162000
    Mar 16 2000 - Mar 18 2000Committee on Technological Literacy Workshop and Meeting II
      MARCH 16, 2000 Workshop on National and International Efforts that Encourage the Development of Technological Literacy (Meeting Location: Room NAS 280)   7:30am ...
    National Academy of Sciences Building
    Washington, DC
Tech Lit Projects
This project explains what technological literacy is, why it’s important, and what’s being done to improve it.
  • Technological literacy, a broad understanding of the human-designed world and our place in it, is an essential quality for all people who live in the increasingly technology-driven 21st century. This project explains what technological literacy is, why it’s important, and what’s being done to improve it.

In its broadest sense, technology is the process by which humans modify nature to meet their needs and wants. However, most people think of technology only in terms of its artifacts: computers and software,aircraft, pesticides, water-treatment plants, birth-control pills, and microwave ovens, to name a few. But technology is more than its tangible products. An equally important aspect of technology is the knowledgeand processes necessary to create and operate those products, such as engineering know-how and design, manufacturing expertise, various technical skills, and so on. Technology also includes all of the infrastructurelnecessary for the design, manufacture, operation, and repair of technological artifacts, from corporate headquarters and engineering schools tomanufacturing plants and maintenance facilities. Technological literacy encompasses three interdependent dimensions—knowledge, ways of thinking and acting, and capabilities, science, or history, the goal oftechnological literacy is to provide people with the tools to participate intelligently and thoughtfully in the world around them. A higher level of technological literacy in the United States would have a number of benefits, for individuals and for the society as a whole.  These include: 

  • Improving Decision Making
  • Increasing Citizen Participation
  • Supporting a Modern Workforce
  • Enhancing Social Well-Being
  • Narrowing the Digital Divide

Technically Speaking makes a number of recommendations intended to help all Americans become more knowledgible about technology and more involved in decisions about its development and use.

The Technically Speaking report is available from National Academy Press.

First Workshop
September 10, 1999
Speaker Bios

Second Workshop

March 16, 2000
Speaker Bios
Speaker Remarks

National Symposium
Speaker bios