Areas of Interest:
Competitiveness, Education, Understanding Engineering
FACA Compliant Consensus Study, Website
Latest Update: November 25, 2013
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:
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.
September 10, 1999
March 16, 2000