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ED 24G 703 

EA 016 469 







Moursund, David 

Precollege Computer Literacy: A personal Computing 
Approach* Second Edition* 

International Council for Computers in Education, 
Eugene, Oreg* 
Apr 83 

33p*; This booklet is an updated and expanded version 
of a paper, **Personal Computing for Elementary and 
Secondary School Students,** presented at a computer 
literacy conference organised by the Human Resources 
Research Organization and the Minnesota Educational 
Computing Consortium (Reston, VA, 1980)* 
Publications, International Council for Computers in 
Education, 1787 Agate Street, University of Oregon, 
Eugene, OR 97403 ($1*50 prepaid; quantity discounts; 
on non-prepaid orders, add $2*50 postage and 
handling) * 

Information Analyses (070) — Reports * 
Evaluative/Feasibility (142) 

HFOl Plus Postage* PC Not Available from EDRS* 
^Computer Assisted Instruction; ^Computer Literacy; 
^Computer Oriented Programs; ^Computers; Curriculum 
Development; Educational Technology; Elementary 
Secondary Education; ^Futures (of Society); 
^Programing; Student Teacher Relationship; 
Technological Advancement 


Intended for elementary and secondary teachers and 
curriculum specialists, this booklet discusses and defines computer 
literacy as a functional knowledge of computers and their effects on 
students and the rest of society* It analyzes personal cooqputing and 
the aspects of computers that have direct i>>pact on students* 
Outlining computer-assisted learning (CAL), the author delineates two 
typest tutor mode CAL (the conqputer imparts knowledge to the student) 
and tutee mode CAL (the student directs interaction with the 
computer)* Discussing the use of computers as an aid to problem 
solving in the classroom, the author predicts it will substantially 
change parts of the curriculum* The discipline of computer and 
information science is a new and important discipline, and high 
schools nay need to provide such courses as part of computer 
literacy* Describing entertainment uses for the computer, the author 
shows there is no clear dividing line between entertainment and 
education* Students understanding the computer's potential for change 
are better prepared to plan their future* The booklet includes a 
glossary of computer terms* (nd) 

* Reproductions supplied by EDRS are the best that can be made * 

* from the original document* * 



precollege computer 

M|ife\0': A PERSONAL 

David Moursuhd 



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International Council for Computers in Education 
135 Education 
University of Oregon 
Eugene, Oregon 97403 

CopyHght © David Moursund 1981 
Second Edition April 1983 

PHce $1.50 U.S. 

Daxid Moursund, the author of this book, has been leaching and 
writing in the field of computers in education for the past sixteen 
years. He is a professor at the University of Oregon, holaing appoint- 
ments in the Department of Computer and Information Science and 
in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction. 

Dr. Moursund's accomplishments and current involvement in the 
field of computers in education include: 

^ Ax 'hor or co-author of ten books and numerous articles. 

• Chairman of the University of Oregon's Computer Science 
Department, 1969- 1975. 

• Chairman of the Association for Computing Machinery's 
Element<ary and Secondary Schools Subcommittee, 1978-1982. 

• President of the International Council for Computers in Educa- 
tion and Editor-in-Chief of The Computing Teacher. 

This book is published by the International Council for Computers 
in Education, a non-profit, tax-exempt professional oi^anization. 
ICCE is dedicated to improving educational uses of computers and to 
helping both students and teachers become more computer literate. 
ICCE publishes The Compuf/ng Teacher, a journal for teachers and 
for teachers of teachers. It also publishes over ten booklets of interest 
to educators. 

^ The booklet ^ ices given below are for prefiaid orders. On other 
orders a $2.50 shipping and handling charge will be added. 


1*4 copies $t.50 each 

5-9 copies $1.25 each 

t(M9 copies $1.00 each 

50-99 copies $ .75 each 

100+ copies $ .60 each 

Please place your orders with: 


135 Education 
University of Oregon 
Eugene> Oregon 97403 USA 
(503) 686-4414 



It is generally agreed that all students should become computer literate, 
but no definition of computer literacy has gained widespread acceptance. 
This booklet defines computer literacy in a manner that can guide edu- 
cators as they work to implement universal computer literacy through pre- 
^college education. 

this booklet is an updated and expanded version of a paper, 'Tarzonal 
Computing for Elementary and Secondary School Students/' prepared by 
David Moursund for a computer literacy conference held in December 
1960 in Reston, Virginia, The conference was organized by the Human Re- 
sources Research Organization and the Miimesota Educational Computing 
Consortium. The purpose of the conference was to help participants gain 
an increased understanding of the meaning of computer literacy and what 
can be done to help students become computer literate. 

This booklet is intended for curriculum specialists, elementary and sec- 
ondary school teachers, media specialists, teachers of teachers and others 
concerned with curriculum in precoltege education. It defines and dis- 
cusses computer literacy for elementary and secondary school students. 
The approach is via an analysis of personal computing and the *ispetts of 
computers that can have a direct impact on students. Students can be p^- 
sonally involved wrth computers through computer assisted learning, com- 
puter assisted problem solving, the study of computer and information 
science and through the use of computers for entertainment. Students can 
learn how computers are affecting the world of business, government and 
industry— and thus, how computers will be part of their future. Each of 
these aspects of personal computing contributes to the definition of a set of 
goals for computer literacy in elementary and secondary schools. The 
resulting overall goal Is for a working knowledge of computers— that is, 
knowledge that facilitates the everyday use of computers by students. This 
knowledge lays a firm foundation for future learning about computers and 
for.cpping with the inevitable changes that will occur in this technology. 

PEItSONAi COMPUTING [noun phrase), Casy lo use. readily available, Inexpensive 
access to electronic computers for personal use. The term gained promineiKeih 
the late 1970s vvith the advent and rapid proliferation of microcomputers. Sirice then 
prices have continued to decrease, while the quality and capability of microcomputers 
hAve increased sul>stantia]lv. The first commercially available handheld computer, in- 
troduced in tS^PO. and a v.*riety of bnefcase-si^ed computers introduced since Ihen 
have lent credence to the idea of people having easy and nearly unlimited access lo 
com paters' for everyday, personal use. 


The history of con^puters Lan bv viewed m term^ of progress toward 
mtiking Lomputer bv^tems more readily available and easier to use. The 
first stage wa^ to make Lomputer^ d\atlable-to ment tlie fundamental 
idea^ and to budd tl^e ftr^t machines. During the late 1930s and early 
1940s, substantial prog.ess otLurii. d in England, Germany ami the United 
States. The first gener.J-purpose L»lectronic digital LOinputer buill in the 
United States was the cNIAC. which beLame operation,^! in Deceirber, 

The ENIAC and other early \aLuum tubeLomputers were tliffiLult to use 
The development ol jssembly languages and asseml)lers helped. But still, 
each computer rectiufccl a learn of elettrrcal engineers ^nd technicians to 
insure o|3eration, and the machines were not very reliable. Computer 
memories were quite small and internal mstruLtion sets (machine lan- 
guages) were restrictive The process of preparing programs and getting 
th^m into machine usal>le form wa^ exacting and time-consuming. 

By 1951, however, many of the initial problems had been overcome and 
the UMIV'AC I, the first commercially [}iodiiced Lomputer. became avail* 
able. Over one iKJndredof these mathme^ were eventually produced and 
sold, evidence of a raptdly expanding market tor (om[)uters» However, the 
UNIVAC I and other Lomputer^ of the 1950s used vacuum tubes. Mainten- 
anLe and reliahihlv remained major probletm. along wiih the si/e of both 
primary and seLundary storage and a shortage of good sotWare and pro- 

During the I950n, high level programming language^ such as FORTRAN, 
COBOL and ALGOL were defined and implemented Transistors became 
readily available, as did prmiary memory which made use of tiny iron 
cores. The second generation of Lomputers that emergecl in the early 
1960s represented tremendous progress toward making Lumf)uters more 
aMdily available, reliable and Lonvenient to use. Some of these machines 
remained in service for 15-20 years- 

Ra[}id technologiLal progres^ in both haidware and software continued. 
Timeshared computing, espenalty intt^raLtive BASIC [>rovi(fed a new stan- 
dard of [3ersondlization in Lom[uiting. Even more importantly, however^ 


the 1960s saw the devolopmont of a process to mdnufticture a single (inte- 
grated) circuit containing a number of interconnected transistors and 
related components. Component den&ity rapidly mounted from tens to 
hundreds to thousands on a single silicon chip. The cost per active compo- 
nent dropped rapidly, nnd reliability increased, 

Largje scab integrated circuitry hel|>ed define the term "third 
generation" of computers in the mid 1960s, Tens of thousands of com- 
puters were manufactured and installed. Minicomputers were priced so 
that an individual researcher or research project could own one* Com- 
puters became an everyday tool for hundreds of thousands of people. 
Since then, progress has been relatively smooth and continual- Thus, there 
is no agreed on definition of fourth or ftfth generation computers. 

The era of |>ersonal computing began wtth the introduction of micro- 
computers in the latter half of the 1970s, Suddenly it became possible for 
an individual to own a computer for use at home, in the office or in the 
classroom. The cost of teaching using computers rapidly dropped by 
almost tin order of magnitude. Students, even in the elementary grades, 
could have hands-on experience with computers. 

In 1980, a battery powered computer, the size of a handheld calculator 
and programmable in 8ASIC. became commercially available at a retail 
price of about $250, By 1981 this machine was being discounted to $200, 
In 1980 and 1981 several companies introduced easily portable briefcast*- 
sized computers. Their advertising campaigns stressed the idea that these 
computers could betaken on business trips^ thus having them available for 
use at all times. 

In 1981/ Hewlett-Packard announced a 4SO.000 transistor chip. This 
single chip contains more circuitry than many of the large scale computers 
of the early 1960s. In 1982, Casio began selling an ordinary-sized wrist- 
watch which contains a 1,711 word Spanish-to-English and English-to- 
Spanish dictionary as well as the ordinary wristwatch functions, December 
of 1982 saw the sale of many battery-powered, handheld electronir games 
as well as tens of thousands of computers. Estimates are that two million 
personal computers were purchased for home itse in the United States in 
1982, and that four million more will be purchased in 1983, 

These advances h/^ve opened up tlie possibility of personal computing 
for the general population. Computer manufacturers could produce a 
microcomputer for every home, office and student desk at school. These 
individual units could be connected to each other and to larger computers 
through our telephone systems and our cable television systems. Not only 
is this possible, but it is quite likely to occur over the next 10-20 .years. 



A number of Ihe early computers were built at university campuses and 
were immediately us^d for both research and instruction. 8ut ftrst genera- 
tioT^ computers were relatively expensive, so their use in education was 

The t96Qs saw a rapid proliferation of computers in education, especial- 
ly in colleges and universities. Hundreds of computer science and data 
processing degree programs were started. Computers were easy enough to 
use so that college undergraduates could take a few computer courses and 
emerge from college with well paying jobs as computer programmers or 
system analysts. 

8y the early 1960s a few secondary schools had computi^r access and a 
few teather training opportunitites were available via evening, weekend or 
summer courses, larer in that decade and in the first half of the 1970s, the 
National Science Foundation funded a number of inservice and summer 
institute computer courses for secondary school teachers. Most partici- 
pants were mathematics or science teachers. Typical institute courses co* 
vered programming in FORTRAN or in BASIC and some computer-orient- 
ed mathematics. The impact upon precollege education at that time was 
minimal, since few secondary i^^chools had more than a modest computer 
facility available. |n recent y^ars, however, many of these early computer 
institute participants have emerged as computer education leaders in their 
schools and school districts. 

Since the late 19505, people have worked to develop computer ^issisted 
learning systems, Stanford University professor Patrick Suppes received 
substantial federal funding during the mid 1960s to develop and test drill 
and practice materials in elementary school arithmetic and language arts,* 
Many of today's drill and practice materials can be traced back to the 
pioneering efforts of Suppes' group. Computer ^issisted learning has 
become a major application of computers in precollege education. 

The Colorado Project* was a leading example of early efforts toniakesig* 
nificant use of computers in high school mathematics. This second year 
high school algebra and trigonometry course was developed in the 'ate 
1960s, Students studied BASIC duringtheftrsr few weeks of the course and 
throughout the remainder of the course were expected to write short pro- 
grams as part of their efforts to learn algebra and trigonometry. The popu* 
larity of this course probably peaked in the mid 1970s and has since de- 
clined. For example, at onetime nean'y 107o of the high schools in Oregon 
offered at least one section of the course. But overall few teachers felt 
qualified totcdch the course, and the inclusion of computer programming 
into an already crowded course added to the difficulty of teaching it. 

Despite such curriculum problems, instructional use of compuers in* 
creased steadily through the mid 1970s and then accelerated as micro- 
computers became available,^By the end of 1982 there were an estimated 

200/000 microcomputers in use in precollege education in the United 
States— about one for every 250 students* 

These microcomputers were riot evenly distributed. In Eugene/ Oregon 
(the author's home town) for example, there was onr n^jcrocomputer for 
every 90 students. Every jii.iior high school and high school in this town of 
100/000 population offered computer programming courses and rtiade 
some use of computers in non*computer courses. Several elementary 
schools were experimenting with computers, using both the BASIC ^nd 
Logo languages. 

An added impetus for computer science instruction in high school is pro- 
vided by the Advanced Placement Test (students can earn up to a year of 
college computer science credit) that willbecome available in the spring of 
19&4> Roughly one-third of United States high schools offer an advanced 
placement^riented calculus class. Most of these schools and many others 
may eventually want to prepare studentsfor the advanced placement com 
puter science course. 


The idea of computer literacy for the general student population prob* 
ably first emerged in the late 1960s. Leaders in the field of computer and 
information science began to suggest that all people needed to know 
something about computers. The Conference Board of the Mathematical 
Sciences recommended universal computer literacy in its 1972 report.^ 
suggesting that this could be achieved via a junior high school computer 
literacy course. Although its request to the National Science Foundation 
for funding to develop such a course was denied, many individual teachers 
began to offer computer literacy units or entire courses/ and authors began 
to develop materials useful at the elementary and secondary school levels. 

The meaning of computer literacy has never been particularly clear, and 
it seems to have changed over time, tnitially, computer literacy usually was 
taken to mean a level of ^understanding which enabled students to talk 
about computers but which involved tittle or no experience in working 
with computers. (This is now called computer awareness.) Students were 
exposed to movies and talks about computers/ allowed to handle a 
punched card, discussed ways that computers were used in business^ 
government and science, and perhaps tou^'ed a computing center. Little 
or nothing about this was personally relevant to most students, and being 
aware of computers had little impact upon them. 

The grov^^h '^f corrputer assisted learning added ^ new dimension.^ The 
ycomputer could teach the student. Certainly this had ^ direct personal im- 
pact upon students. Initial studies suggested that in some academic areas 
many students learned well or even better from computers as from con* 
ventional modes of instruction. Computer assisted learning required little 
speciitC knowledge about computers on the part of either students or 



teachers, and computer hardware could be mass produced^a few peo- 
ple predicted that conventional formal education was doomcKj! 

This situation prompted Art Luehrmann and others to raise an important 
issue in the early t970s: what are appropriate uses of computers in educa* 
tionP Should the computer teacl^ the student-or vice versa? On as Tom 
Dwyer put it, should the student be the passenger or the pilots' 

The basic issues involve what students should learn about computers 
and the ways they should learn about or use them. When a computer acts 
upon a student in a computer assisted leamingmode. the student need not 
learn much abouF computers. But when a student acts upon a conrputen 
developing programs and solving a variety of problems, more I'nowledge 
o( computers is required— on the part of both student and teacher. 

The i>sues have been shan>ened through the work of Seymour Papert. 
For more than a decade he has been developing the Logo language, turtle 
geometry, and ideas on using computers with elementary school children. 
Papert advocates immersing children in a problem-rich environment, and 
he has shown how computers can help provide this environment.^ His 
work suggests that even vety ','oung children can become adept at using a 
computer as an exf>loratory tool and can learn key ideas such as top down 
analysis, debugging and subroutine. Paper; questions whether our current 
educational system can cope with the changes he is advocating. 

The issues raised by Dwyer, Luehrmann, Papert and others have not 
been resolved, in part because computer literacy ts not accepted as an 
important goal by the majority of parents, educators or students. Even now 
the school that can provide one microcomputer or timeshared terminal 
per 25 students is rare. Rarer still is the school that has even one teacher 
with a knowledge of computer^ in education equivalent to a strong bache* 
lor's degree in this field. Contrast this with almost every other academic 
area taught in secondary schools, where a bachelor's degree or an even 
higher level of teacher preparation is common. 

However, both of these situations are changing— they could change 
quite rapidly if our society, working through its school system, decided 
that it was important to have it happen. The increasing personal access to 
computers may provoke that decision. The remainder of this booklet 
discusses some aspects of personal computing and how they help to define 
some specific goals for computer literacy. 


Students of all ages can team to use a compuSer at a ' vel that is mean- 
ingful to them and makes a difference in their lives. Per£;onal computing for 
students can be divided into several categories. The following uses ofcotn* 
' puters are neither disjointed nor ^ill-inclusive, but wil! serve to guide our 
exptoriitlon of the concept of computer literticy. Computers can be per- 
sonally useful to students as: 

I. A General Aid to Learning, 
ll An Aid to Problem Solving. 

III, An Object of Learning tn Itself: Tne Discipline of 
Computer and Information Science. 

IV. Entertainment, 

' V* A Part of Their Future. 

Each of these will be discussed, along with how each contributes to a de- 
finition of computer literacy. The discussion will center around students 
and fheir everyday, in-school activftfes. Thus, the goals for computer 
literacy that emerge will tend to be student-oriented and relevant to 
students* Moreover, these goals will be flexible and edsily modified as 
changes occur in computer capability and availability as wel' as in 4he cur- 


Computer Assisted learning. Tutor Mode 

Computer assisted learning (CAL), the use of computers as an aid to learn- 
ing, can be divided into two major parts. In one |>art, frecfuently called 
computer assisted instruction (CAl), the computer acts upon the student. 
Whether tfie mode is drill and practice, tutorial or simulation, the com- 
puter has the knowledge and it is the student who is to acquire the 
knowledge. Following Rol)ert Taylor's ideas,' we will call this tutor mode 

A second form of CAL puts the student in charge— the student acts on a 
computer as an aid to learning. Learntr^g environments created using a 
Logo Ianguage*ba5ed computer system provide a good example,'^ After a 
few minutes of instruction^ even an elementary school student can learn 
enough Logo programming to begin encountering interesting and 
challenging geometry problems. Immediately the emphasis then switches 
from learning Logo to problem solving in the domain of geometry. We will 
call this tutee mode CAIJ It will be discussed later in this section. 

In essence, tutor mode CaL is a computer simulation of certain aspects 
of teaching/learning processes. The field is more than twenty years old 
now and is slowly maturing. Initially much tutor mode CAL material was 

' 10 

quite poor and today this remains a major problem. But, hke any 
computer simulation, tutor mode CAL quality can be improved by con< 
tinued work on the underlying theory, the software, the hardware and the 
other supporting material. There are now some quite good tutor mode 
CAL iratertals, with strong evidence that many students learn better and/or 
fastei using these niaterfals. Moreovt'r, tuto'' mode CAL is an excellent 
educational research tool, contributing significantly to an understanding of 
what students learn and what helps them to learn. Good tutor mode CAL 
embodies what is known about learning theory and makes explicit the 
models) of instruction being used. 

The explicit implementation of learning theories in tutor mode CAL is a 
key idea* All teachers have some insight into a variety of learning theories 
and realize that not all students learn in the same way. Significant progress 
in learning theory has occurred during the past twenty years. It is nearly 
impossible for a classroom teacher to keep up with this progress and to 
make use of the more relevant ideas in his/her teaching. However modern 
theories of learning can be used >n the def:gn and implementation of tutor 
mode CAL materials. An individual or team of tutor mode CAL developers 
can spend the necessary time to study current learning theory research 
and to implement ideas that will help students learn more, better and 
faster Tutor mode CAL can provide an individualization o/ instruction that 
cannot be matched by a tfticher who must deal with large numbers of 

Another important idea that can be made explicit in education is learn* 
ing about learning. A student needs information on how, and under what 
conditions, s/he can !earn best. That is, a student needs to learn about 
learning. The computer provides a good motivation and vehicle for 
s^>ecific instruction on learning and on learning to learn. What does it 
mean to "know" a particular topic? Are some methods of studying more 
productive than others? ts there one best method for studying all subjects? 
Since computers can help most students to learn faster^ most students cart 
benefit from learning the capabilities of tutor mode CAL and from having 
access to tutor mode CAL. Any studen* can learn to use tutor mode CAL 
and all can learn how (fortheni personally) CAL com(iares with other aids 
to learning. 

Ideally, a computer literate student tias experienced tuto^ mode CAL in a 
variety of disciplines and has developed insight into its value relative to 
other modes of instruction/learning. The student has used drill and prac- 
tice> tutorials and simulations in art. music, math, science, language arts, 
sociaistudiesand soon. This hasoccunc^ at each grade level The student 
has studied and thought about what it means to learn and has specifically 
studied various modes of instruction/learning. The student understands 
what best fits his/her needs in a wide variety of situations. 

Notice that this aspect of computer ILeracy is sensitive 'o changes in 
computer technology and to changes in tutor mode CAL quality and avail* 

ability, Wc need to accfuaint students with the best tluit is currently avaiT ^ 
able and help them to understand that this '1jeM" is rapidly chiinglng. We / 
should also stress that tutor mode CAL can occur in many settings outside 
the classroom and can therefore play a useful role in lifelong education , 

This approach to computer literacy can begrn at the elementary schoi)l 
level ard can continue throughout a student's education. It has the tK)ten* 
tial to help revolutionize education. The re>fK)nsiblti(y for learning can be 
placed more explicitly upon the student, rather than upon the teacher or 
school system as it is now* Many topics of instruction and learning do not 
have to be directed by the teacher nor do they require tKit a teacKer be 
present. !t i**^ likely that eventually lutor mode CAL will lye a standard, or 
even dominant mode of instruction/learning. Because of this and other 
benefits of tutor mode CAL discussed in this section. \vi' should continue to 
expand urage of tutor mode CAl, even in situations where it is not yet 
100% cost effective relative to conventional modes of instruction* B> doing 
so we are investing in the future vahje of our students' education* 

Some teachers fear that tutor mode computer assisted instruction will 
disrufit tlie school system and replace teachers. This will certainly not Jm? 
true in the near future. The number of microcomputers currently being 
useu in the United States precollege education system is enough to give 
each student one minute of computer use pcir day. A ten-fold or twenty- 
fold increase in computer assisted kwning would still have only modest 

But by the year 2000. we may well have one microcomputer for ^e-: 
two students. A typical student may use computer assistf^d instructi^r^ 
materL^ls for jn hour or two [jerday. The computer, rather than text(K)oks 
and other print materials, may Ix* the dominant moH * of instruction. The 
potential impact u[K)n teachers is not clear. 

Computer Assisted learning' Tutee Mode 

In tutee mode CAL a student acts upon a compu'er; the student is m 
charge, directing the interaction and teamirtg by doing. The computer helps 
to provide a rich learning environment, but the computer is t,^i pre 
programmed with information to be taught to a student. Tutee mode CAl 
generally requires that a student learn quite a bit about a computer system 
and its lant^uagi-, 

Reading provides a good analogy. A young student i>ij&t ex^K^nd con- 
siderable effort to master the rudiments of reading. Initially a student's 
aura' and visual skills far exceed his/her residing skills in acquiring new in- 
formation. But eventually reading skills irtcrease and a new world opens— 
the printed record of the accumulated knowledge of the human race. 
Third graders may learn more about dinosaurs than their teachers know. A 
seventh grader may read about electricity, attaining a level of knowledge 
far beyond that of leading scientists two hijndrefj years ago. 



Similariy, students first encountering computers and a programming 
language in tutee mode CAL must focus upon iearning the rudiments of a 
programming language. But eventually enough of the language is learned 
to op^n up new worlds ior exploration and learning. If the computer and 
language system are appropriately designed, most students can move 
rapidly tfdm an emphasis on the study of the computer system into an 
emphasis on learning other material 

the Logo language illustrates this quite well. Logo was specifically de^ 
signed to be used in tutee mode CAL by elementary school students. Iditial 
instruction may consist of learning to turn on the computer system and be- 
ing shown a few simple examples. When the system is turned on, a 
pointed arrow called a "turtle" is displayed. Thts turtle draws lines as it 
moves about the screen following directions specified by the corrputer 

7 RrGMT45 

Even very young children can quickly learn commands suvli FOR- 
WARD, BACK, RtGHT and LEFT. FORWARD and BACK are accompanied 
by a distance while RIGHT and LEFT are accompanied by an angle mea- 
sured in degrees. The commands have abbreviations FD, BK, RT and LT 



Already the child s dealing with distances and angles— that is, with geo- 
metry- How can the turtle draw a house> a ctown or a flower? After just 
a few minutes of instruction, the focus chanj^s from learning Logo to the 
solving of some problem. 

As students progress, they will find a need for additional Logo language 
tools. Thus, students will repeatedly switch from working on a problem to 
learning more about the language and then back again to the problem. 

In the above example the Logo system is used to create a geometry en- 
vironment. This is a rich, deep environment; an entire secondary school 
geometry course has been embedded in this environment* 

A modern word processing system provides another example of tutee 
mode CAL, Such a system aflows material to be typed^ edited^ stored and 
output. It also contains a spelling checker, which can help to 'dentify mis- 
spelled words. 

It requires some initial effort for a student to learn to use a word process- 
ing system. But the rewards are welt worth the effort, Writirtg becomes 
-nore fun and correcting errors is no longer a major problem, A student 
can go through a number of drafts of a report or essay, trying out various 
ideas and continually improving the quality. The nice looking computer 
printout is a potent reward. 

In the past, word processing has been quite expensive, so it has been 
used primarily in large business offices. Now. however, microcomputers 
have brought the cost of word processing within the reach of many mil- 
lions of potential u<;ers. It is evident that most offices will eventually make 
use of this technology. As word processing comes into our educational sys- 
tem at all levels, the impact will likely prove to be dramatic. Debugging, 
the systematic detection and correction of errors, will become a standard 
part of writing. Because the final product is nice to look at, more students 
will collect and display their i/riting. Perhaps we will spawn a new genera- 
tion of writers! 

The key idea of tutee mode CAL is using a computer system to create a 
new, rich, i,iteresting learning environment, Tutee mode CAL can piuvide 
environments such as art> music, the physical sciences^ and so on. In 
music, for example, we know that quite young chitdrer> can develop a 
good ear for music and can learn to play musical instruments. With an ap- 
propriate computer-based environments the same children can also com- 
pose music. The computer interdicts with the composer, stores the com- 
position and plays it when requested. The composer (the child) creates the 
musical composition, edits it and experiences the pleasure of being 

Art education provides another good example. There now exist ex- 
cellent computer assi,sted "painting" programs, A student can paint a pic* 
ture on a color television screen. Working with the computer system* the 

student cdn animate d picture, change the shdpe, size and color of its ob- 
jects and experiment with perspective. Such experimentation is a power- 
ful aid to learning art. Moreover, it provides a solid foundation for learning 
about computer graphics and for understanding how computers are used 
in the production of television and movies, 

Tutee mode CAL can be done on any computer system. But obviously it 
will be more successful if the hardware and software are specifically 
designed to facilitate learning. An interactive Logo system is far superior to a 
batch processed COBOL system for young children, Eventually we will 
have a wide variety of computer hardware/software systems specifically 
designed to facilitate tutee mode CAL, In some disciplines it is likely that 
tutee mode CAL will picwato be *i more superior aid to learning than con- 
ventional modes of infiriiafoti or tutor mode CAL, In the years to come, 
tutee mode CAL will certainly play an important role in education. 

Tutee mode CAL is in its infancy. Since the research and experience 
bases are stiti quite modest in size, it is difficult to formulate precise stu- 
dent-oriented computer literacy goals in this area. Certainly all students 
should have an opport jnity to explore a variety of learning environments 
based upon tutee mode CAL. Word processing, geometry, art and music 
learning environments are available through several different computer 
systems. These provide a good starting point for introducing students to the 
power and pleasure of using tutee mode CAL, As with tutor mode CAL, 
part of the goal is to help students learn about learning. Some students will 
find that tutee mode CAL is especially suited to their learning styles and 
academic interests. 

The foundation of tutee mode CAL is discovery-based learning, A com- 
puter system is used to help create a rich educational environment and the 
student is encouraged to work in tins environment. For many students, dis- 
covery-based learning is very effective— rapid and deep learning does oc- 

But there are many other students who seem to flounder rn a discovery- 
based learning environment. They need a more structured environment 
and more guidance from teachers. 

The same two points can be made for teachers. Some teachers function 
well in a discovery-based learning/teaching environment. But many others 
have had little or no experience and instruction in discovery-based learn- 
ing/teaching. For them, tutee mode CAL may be quite threatening. 

Problem solving is a central and unifying theme in education. Any disci- 
pline can be framed as a hierarchic set of problems to be solved. Instruc- 
tion in a discipline leads to understanding; the nature of its problems: what 
problems have been solved and ways to solve some of these problems; 


what problems havo not been solved and ways to formulate and attack 
new problems. 

A key aspect of problem solving is building upon the work of others. This 
work is stored in a variety of ways. Each discipline has developed vocabu- 
lary, notation and tools specifically designed to aid in representing and 
solving its problems* The vocabulary of mathematics, music and psycho- 
therapy are each highly specialized, and a given word may have different 
meanings in these three disciplin':s. For example, a group in mathemaAics 
is not the same as a group in psychotherapy. The vocabulary in each dis- 
cipline has been carefully developed jto allow precise communication of 
important concepts in the field. Books, journals and other writings are 
"coded" in these vocabularies, and they constitute a standard way of stor- 
ing the accumulated knowledge of a field. Still and motion pictures, video 
recordings and audio recordings are other modes of storage. 

Much knowledge is stored in the form of machines that people leam to 
use: the telescope, rrricroscope, telephone, television, clock, radio, auto- 
mobile, and so on. A person can leam to use these machines to solve 
various problems without mastering all the details of constructing the 
machines or understanding how/why they work in the manner they do. 
Very young children can learn to use a telephone, television or record 
. player. 

The embodiment of information in a machine is a key idea. A young child 
can leam to read music and to play a musical instrument without leaming 
the details of music theoryor the design and construction of musical instru- 
jments. A child can leam to use a telephone system; a young adult can 
'learn to drive a car. All of these activities involve building upon and using 
the work accomplished by others. 

Computers, although they are also "merely" machines, provide a 
unique, new way to store knowledge. We can (roughly) divide the com- 
puter storage of knowledge into two categories— passfv* and active. Passive 
storage in a computer is analogous to storage in the form of books, films, 
etc. Computer storage maybe more efficient perhaps, but not qualitatively 
different. Written materials can be stored on a magnetic disk or tape, and 
the material can be retrieved with the aid of a computerized information 
retrieval system. Similarly, pictures or sound can be digitized for computer 
storage and !ater reassembled for playback. This may be faster and more 
convenient than non^computerized methods, but in itself does not repre* 
sent a profound change. 

Active storage of inlormation is illustrated by even the simplest four func- 
tion calcu lator. The calculator ' 'knows" how to add, subtract, multiply and 
divide. It stores this knowledge in an easily usable Torm. This sort of activ'e 
storage of knowledge is akin to the storage of knowledge in other 
machines such as the telephone, microscop?, alarm cidck or stereo 

Computers epitomize active storage; they are specifically designed for 
both the storage and retrieval of information, and for the manipulation of 
the stored information. A computer program can contain information on 
how to do something in a form that the computer k:an use to carry out the 
actual process. The computer can act upon the world, controllmg indus- 
trial processes/ routing telecommunications and helping to solve a wide 
variety of other problems. A computer can be a relatively smart machine/ 
storing and using knowledge and skills beyond those of many of its users. 

The active storage of informatfon normally shortens the time it takes to 
manipulate or retrieve the information, as well as changing the knowledge 
and skills needed. Even the four-functron calculator illustrates this. 
Grayson Wheatley estimates that a typical student spends two years of 
mathematics education instruction time in grades 1-9 mastering paper and 
pencil long division,^ How radical is it to suggest that the time spent on this 
topic be halved and that students be given calculators? 

The calculator example is particularly interesting because of its potential 
to greatly change arithnietic education. With some assistance from 
teachers^ almost all first grade students can develop an intuitive under- 
standing of addition^ subtraction, multiplication and division* They can 
develop the ability to mentally solve simple e^camples of all four of these 
types of problems. 

But progress in developing paper and pencil computational skills is slow, 
A typical student learns paper and pencil addition and subtraction by the 
end of the third grade and then moves on to multiplication and division. 
Consider the impact of giving all third graders calculators and allowing 
their unlimited use. The emphasis would be changed from computation to 
problem solving— from rote memory to higher level cognitive processes, 
little research has been done upon this type of possible change to the cur- 

And if cakulators have the potential to make such a large change in the 
curriculum, what about computers? Eventually* computers will be nearly 
as cortrmon as calculators are today. What should students be able to do 
mentally? with pencil and paper? assisted by a calculator or computer? 
These are very difficult questions and will certainly challenge educators for 
decades to come. 

Progress in hardware* software* artificial intellig^^nce and computer 
assisted problem solving in all disciplines is continuously expanding the 
totality of problems that computers can solve or help to solve. The idea of a 
knowledge-based computer system is now well entrenched and growing in 
importance. What does a chemist, geologist, mathematiuan or physician 
know that a computer might be programmed to know? In these and many 
other disciplines, intense research efforts are producing computer systems 
that perform at an expert level. That is, computer systems can solve or help 
solve a variety of nonroutine problems complex enough to challenge a 


human expert* The number of these expert-le\el knowledge-based com- 
puter systems will grow rapidly over the ne)(t ten to twenty years. Thus, for 
any particular problem area that a student might study, it is likely that com- 
puters are already a very important aid in problem solving and that the im* 
portance of computers in that area is growing. 

The computer literate student understands and uses computers as an aid 
to problem solving. This means that the student has studied problem solv* 
ing and a variety of aids to problem solving. The student has used com* 
puters as an aid to problem solving over a period of many years in a wide 
variety of disciplines and understands their capabilities and limitations. 
Given a problem, the truly competent student can decrdeif a computer is a 
useful aid compared to other aids^approaches to solving the problem. 

If a computer is to be used to help solve a problem, appropriate software 
is necessary. Previously written programs (often called canned programs, 
library programs or packaged programs) are readily available for many 
general types of problems. Some of these library programs are easy to use 
and ^asy to learn how to use. Others require substantial instruction and 
practice. Indeed, learning to use certain packaged programs is roughly 
equivalent in difficulty to [earning a general purpose programming Ian* 
guage. There is no clear dividing line between programming and using 
problem-oriented packages of library programs. 

In many situations an appropriate library program is not available. An e^- 
isting program may need to be modified, several pieces of e^ciMing pro- 
grams may need to be combined or a new program may need to be writ- 
ten. ThuSf instruction in computer programming surfaces once again as an 
important part of computer literacy. We will discuss this in more detail 

If the use of computers as an aid to problem solving is taught and inte- 
grated into the curriculum, some parts of the curriculum will substantially 
change. The greatest changes will be in areas where we know a lot about 
problem solving such as in mathematics and the sciences. But our cur* 
riculum contains a number of other areas in which a computer can solve 
problems or can be of substantial assistance in solving them. We will need 
to decide what we want students to learn to do by "conventional" 
methods and to what extent "knowing" an area includes knowing how to 
make use of a computer to solve problems rn this area. Students need to 
know which aspects of the problems they are studying can be handled by a 

The ideas of computer literacy raised in this section are dependent upon 
the capabilities of computer hardware and software and st> will change 
over time. As with CaU students should become familiar wi' h the best of 
modern hardware and software, since continued rapid progress is to bee\- 
pected in both. This type of computer literacy is multidisclplrnary. Its pro- 
per achievement requires that teachers be computer literate with respect 


to their own disciplines. The Association for Computtng Machinery has 
made recommendations on teacher education/ 

Most teachers today are not computer literate within the^r own teaching 
areas. They do not know how computers can help solve the problems of 
their disciplines. Moreover, most schools of education are not yet pro- 
ducing computer literate graduates. For the next decade or two our edu- 
cational system faces a sertous problem. Computer systems will become 
increasingly capabfe aids to problem solving, while the computer knowl- 
edge of most educators will continue to lag far behind. It will take a distinct 
effort on the part of our educational system to significantly improve this 

The teacher education problem is being attacked from two directions. 
First, many school districts now have computers-in-education committees 
that work to set student-oriented goals and to deveiop the needed teacher 
inservice courses. Second, colleges of education are beginning to put 
significant effort into both preservice and Inservice computereducatlon, A 
recent collection of eighteen papers discusses what various colleges of 
education are doing and gives recommendations for this phase of teacher 


Computer and information science is a new and iri[iportant discipline. It 
is now well established in most major colleges and univeisitiesand is rapid- 
ly growinc irt stature. In the United States alone there are nearly 400 
bachelor's degree programs and nearly lOOdoaoral programs in this field* 
Hundreds of journals devote all or part of their content to computer and 
information science topics, and the research journals of almost every other 
discipline occasionally carry compute r-related articles. 

Computer programming is one part of computer and information sci- 
ence, and learning some programming is an essential step in understand' 
ing computer and information science. We are talking about a student* 
oriented, non^professional level of computer programming knowledge 
and skills, A student should be able to program well enough to be able to 
attack the types of problems being studied in the school curriculum and to 
make effective use of the tools being taught. When the topic being studied 
is part of computer and information science, it is even more important that 
students write programs. 

Computer programming involves learning a language. More importantly, 
it involves developing and practicing problem^solving skills. Top down 
analysis, segmentation, testing and debugging are fundamental ideas best 
learned through hands on experience. These programming-related ideas 
carry over to problem solving in many other aca Jemic areas. 



Thus, we are led to include computer programmmg as part of computer 
literacy via our analysis of tutee mode CAU through our analysis of prob- 
lem solving, and also through the importance of computer and infurmation 
science. But none of these gives a precise statement of the level or nature 
of programming skill appropriate to computer literacy. 

To specify goals for computer programming instruction mo 'e precisely, 
we need to define what it means to program. Many interactive computer 
systems function in both an immediate execution and a delayed execution 
mode. In the immediate e)tiecutjon mode> statements such as FOi^WARD 
50 from Logo or PRINT 72/389 from BASIC are immediately carried out by 
the computer. These statements can be thought of as one-line programs. A 
student who writes such statements is programming Even this level of pro- 
gramming skill is useful in leaming geometry, arithmetic or more about 
programming. In the delayed execution mode, a student prepares a se- 
quence of one or more statements and enters it into a- computer system. 
After entering the sequence of statements, the student can direct thecoma 
puter to execute the program. 

Word processing and information retf^reval also provide examples of 
computer systems that have both immediate execution commands and 
delayed execution capabilities. Learning to use a word processing system 
or an information retrieval system is learning to progrf.m. It is true that one 
is learning a speciaUpurpose language^ rather than a general-purpose 
lang^*:igesuch as BASIC, Logo or Pascal However, the same general prin- 
ciples apply, and it is clear that the computer user is directing the system^ 

In both the immediate execution and the delayed execution modes, a 
student is making use of very sophisticated software. In the early years of 
computers, most available software was written in a general^purpose lan- 
guage. However, there has been a strong historical trend towards special- 
purpose software systems. This b^^-came evident quite early in statistics. For 
more than 20 ye<.rs now, there have been quite sophisticated statistical 
program packages. Learning to use such a system is comparable in dtf- 
fic'jlty to learning a general-purpose programming lat'guage. 

One of the most successful and widely used applications systems for 
microcomputers is known as an electronic spread sheet. In essence, the 
computer display becomes a large two-dimensional table. Columns in the 
table may be related to each other by simple formulas. Then, changes to 
the figures in one column cause automatic updates to figures in other col- 
umns. The electronic spread sheet is such a useful tool to many business 
people that they purchase a computer system ju<!t for this particular ap- 
plication. It is quite appropriate that busines^o^^ented secondary school 
students learn to use such systems. 

including the use of information retrieval, word processing, statistics and 
other applications systems in our definition of programmmg greatly broad- 
ens the scope of what it means to learn to program. Learning to use appli- 


cations systems is a rapidly growing part of computer programming; it will 
eventually be the dominant part. All students can learn to use applications 
systems, and this is ai) esst^ntial part of becoming computer literidte. 

In having st^idents learn to program, the goal is to attain a functional 
level of knowledge and skill-^a If^el useful in studying and attacking prob- 
lems in every academic area. The analogy with reading and writing is again 
useful. For a first grade student, reading and writing a^e specific academic 
disciplines; it takes considerable effort to learn to read and write. But a 
high school student uses reading and writing as tools to study other dis^ 

Our educational system has had many hundreds of years of experience 
in helping students learn to read and write. We know that most students 
can develop a functional level of reading and writing literacy. We know 
that instruction can begin in the first grade or earlier and that the rate of 
progress toward functional literacy varies considerably among students. 
Moreover, we recognize there is a significant difference between a func- 
tional literacy level and a professional level. Some students study journal* 
ism, writing and literature in college or graduate school. They develop 
much higher levels of skill and knowledge in reading and writing than the 
general populace. 

Our educational system hai* only limited experience in helping children 
learn to program a computer. But we know that if appropriate computer 
facilities and teacher knowledge are av jilable, then elementary school stu- 
dents can learn to program. A child's initial exploration of Logo can be a 
valuable learning experience. The experience rapidly gets into problem 
areas such as geometry where the computer system and the student's pro* 
gramming skills become useful aids in learning new non*computer 

The use of word processing at the elementary schoo! level is in its infancy. 
Seymour Papert's work has shown that even learning disabled children 
can Itrdrn to use a word processing system. There is some evidence that 
success in using word processing carries over to other academic areas, 
leading to an overall improvement in academic performance. 

Given adequate time, computer access and ins..uction, most middle 
school and junior high school students can team to program in a language 
such as BASIC Logo or Pascal. Such students can learn to use an informa* 
tion retrieval system, a word processing system and other applications sys* 
terns. Currently, the great majority of computer programming instruction 
at the precollege level focuses upon general^purpose laiiguage systems, 
especially BASIC. This emphasis will gradually shift as students and 
educators come to appreciate the value and power of the applications 

The key to functional computer literacy is having a supportive environ^ 
ment in which students can continte to use the computer knowledge and 


skills they are acquiring. A seventh grade student can team to use a word 
processing system and an information retrieval system. These are general- 
purpose tools-^the stucient can use them in almost all academic areas. Skill 
in using these systems will grow as tl^ * student .rows in overall academic 
accomplishment, provided adeqc^ite computer access and encourage* 
ment are available. 

Another example is provided by computer graphics systems. A graphics 
system makes it possible for a person to easily draw a bar graphs pie charts 
scatter plot or function graph. Drawing graphs is useful in social sciences^ 
physical sciences anri nothemattcs. Initial exposure to a comprehensive 
graphics system might occur in the ninth grade. Subsequently, students 
could use this system in a variety of courses for the remainder of their 
educational careers. 

To be more specifier consider a student prot^resstng through the typical 
algebra, geometry and second year algebra sequence of courses. Com* 
puter graphics ib a useful toot in all of these courses^ both as an aid to prob* 
lem solving and a> an aid to understanding the topics being studied. 
Graphical representations of functlon^r for example, ca help to improve 
one's intuitive insights into functions and their uses. A computer literate 
student taking these math counts would understand uses of computer 
graphics in the courses dnd would make frequent use of this important 

Along with instruction in special ^purpose and general ^purpose computer 
programming systems should come instruction in computer science* Intro* 
ductory ideas can be woven into the curriculum at all academic levels, A 
formal computer science course might be given at the high school level. 

The Association for Computing Machinery (ACM), working through its 
Elementary and Secondary Scuools Subcommittee, has developed a year- 
long computer science course for high school students** The course H in* 
tended to be roughly comparable to high school biology in its difficulty, 
and the hop^ is that eventually it will have a similarly wioe audience. The 
course has a relatively low mathematics prerequisite* Its content is bal- 
anced between computer programming, problem solving and a variety of 
topics from computer and informaiion science. A detailed, week by week 
outline for such a high school computer science course is given in Jean 
Rogers' booklet. An tnlToduction to Computing: Content for a High School 
Course, published by ICCE.^ 

Computer science includes topics su' '> as artificial intelligence, business 
data processing, computers and socieiV. computer firAphics. information 
retrieval and modeling and simulation. It also covers the design, repr 
sentation, testing and debugging of procedures to solve problems. These 
latter ideas carry over to other (non-computer) academic areas, providing 
students with some general -purpose problcm^lving skills. 



These skills and (heir underlying ideas are quite useful and powerful 
Consider debugging. Currently^ most students are taught that the math 
work they do is either "right" or "wrong." They do not explicitly learn that 
their ''wrong" work maybe mostly correct and merely need some debug- 
ging. Contrast this with learning to write. The idea is well accepted there 
that a student's work may need debugging. Teaching the idea of bugs and 
debugging could profoundly change nrathematics education at the pre- 
college level 

It is perhaps too early to say that a high school level computer and infor- 
mation science course is an essential part orcomputer literacy. But already 
we can see movement in that direction on the part of some colleges and 
universities. That is. it seems likely that ten years from now many col- 
leges and universities will place entering freshmen into a remedial com- 
puter literacy course if they have not acquired such knowledge previously. 

tt is also difficult to know what employers will expect of students enter- 
ing the job market ten vears from now. The rapid proliferation of compu- 
ters suggests that quite a high level of computer literacy vvill be expected. 
The ACM course might become pari of a definition of the expected level of 
computer literacy. 

The standards for computer literacy discussed in this section tend to 
come from higher-level authority (for example, the ACM or ICCEh father 
than being apparent to the student. Not all students will easily accept that 
an ACM or tCCE-recommended body of knowledge and specific skills will 
be useful on the job or in college- Moreover, we cannot say with certainty 
that such a course is indeed appropriate. For many years to come, people 
will be able to acquire needed levels of computer-oriented skills on the job 
or in their higher education programs. But p.ecollege students who have 
acquired this level or computer literacy will have a distinct advantage in 
seeking jobs and/or in continuing their format education. 

Although this booklet focuses mainly on precollege computer literacy, 
the emerging pattern of college level computer literacy provides useful in- 
formation. In the past few years enrollment in college computer science 
and computer literacy courses has doubled and then doubled again. Col- 
lege students are aware of the value of having a solid functional level of 
computer science knowledge. It is likely that this awareness will spread to 
high school students, leading to a rapid grov^^h in demand for computer- 
related courses. Most colleges are hard pressed to meet the demand, and 
the same problem is likely to occur in many high schools, 


Computers are a rapidly growing form of entertainment. They compete 
Successfully with television, stereos, books and movies. They are quite im- 
po tant in the lives of many students and can have either a negative or a 
positive effect. We should remember that the typical eighteen-year-old in 



the United States has watched more hours of TV than s/he has attended 
school! Twenty years from now we may be makmg similar statements 
about student use of computerized entertainment systems. 

As with CALf use of computers as a form of entertain^tent can be divided 
into two main categories. The designing and implementing of programs is 
fun for some students. If the program plays a game or simulates alien 
environment, it is especially fun. Some people spend a significant percen- 
tage of their leisure time writing, testing and improving such programs. 
They often develop a very high level of programming skill a level which 
generally exceeds tha skill most students develop through programming 
courses offered in schools. 

But the great majority of computer use for ^entertainment is game play- 
ing. Some computerized games can be t&arned and perhaps even mas- 
tered in a matter of minutes; however, there is a growing collection of 
computerised games requiring dozens or ev€fn hundieds of hours of effort 
to master. Extensive learning or the devebpment of a high level of 
hand/eye coordination is needed. 

Typical of the sophisticated computer games are the computerized varia* 
tions of Dungeons and Dragons. These are fantasy games in whith one ex- 
plores muhi'teveled dungeons, searching for treasures and fighting 
dragons and other creatures. The games are quite complex and playing 
them well requires a g,ood memory, good attention to detail and concen* 
tration. While careful studies of their educational value have not been 
done, it seems evident that such games are intellectual in nature, and thus 
have educational value. Who is to say that learning to play chess is a better 
use of one's time than learning to play a computerized fantasy game? 

Quite good computer programs now exist to aid musical composition or 
ear training, and computerized aids for artistic creation are also available, 
tt is not difficult to include these in the realm of entertainment, but they 
also Have clear educational value. 

A computer program to play chess, checkers, backgammon or Othello 
can be a challenging opponent and an excellent aid to learning one of 
these games. Many other problem^solving situations can be formulated as 
interesting games, involving both entertainment and learning* 

t here is no clear dividing line between entertainment and education. In* 
deed, if learning is fun. more and better learning tends to occur. Thus, stu* 
dents should be given the opportunity to make use of CAL materials that 
are both education?; and fun. They should learn to be critical of learning 
aids that are unnecessarily dull 

There appears to be little need to give students instruction in how to use 
a computer as a form of entertainment. Students quickly learn this on their 
own or from their peers. But the study of entertainment, or more appro- 
priately the study of leisure time, is now considered to be important in 
modern education. 



A computer literate student has experienced the use of computers as a 
form of entertainment in a variety of situations. The student has studied 
various forms of leisure time activity and how computers fit into this field. 
The student has made a conscious and rei^soned decision as to the role 
computerized entertainment will play in his/her life <it the current time. 


Students in junior high and high school often are actively interested in 
the social problems of our sjciety. They study these problems, and they 
begin to work toward helptng solve the problems. While computers are 
useful aids to problem solvin{$, theyareal^ a new source of problems, for 
example, computers make possible very large, easily accessible data 
banks. Such data banks may contain detailed records on a person's school- 
ing, criminal history, federal and state taxes, medical history and employ* 
ment. The 1984 "big brother is watching" era is nearly upon us. 

A computer literate student has studied the role of computers and pri- 
vacy. The student is knowledgeable about the capabilities and limitations 
of computerized systems that store data about people and their activities. 
The student is able to function as a well-informed citizen in helping to pre- 
serve individual freedoms and those aspects of individual privacy that are 
so important in our society. 

Computers represent change, and computers are a change agent. )t is 
generally agreed that one major goal of education fs to help students pre* 
pare to cope with situations they will encounter later in life. Every student 
will encounter new and different situations; every student will encounter 

Many of these changes will be based upon developments in science and 
technology. We can expect continued rapid progress in such diverse fields 
as medicine, genetic engineering, telecommunications and automation. 

At the heart of scientific and technological nro^^f'ess is the accumulation 
and application of knowledge. And it is here that computers are makii.^ i 
substantial contribution. Computers, supported by the general knowledge 
being r^eveloped through the field of computer and information science^ 
have become an indispensable part of our science and technology. 

Moreover, computers are one of the most rapidly changing parts of 
science and technology. The rapid progress in computer hardware, soft- 
ware and applications that we have seen in the past thirty years seems des* 
tined to continue for the next thirty. These past thirty years have taken us 
from the UNIVAC I costing well over a million 1051 dollars, to the por- 
table and/or handheld microcomputers of today. Many of these micro- 
computers exceed the UNIVAC ! in capability, while costing less than one- 
thousandth as much! 

[t IS fun to make a coni<?cture about what the ne^t thirty years will bring. 
The Dynabook project and Smalltalk-30 language based on Alan Kay's 
ideas are especially exciting.'" Work began at Xerox Corporalion in the 
early 1970s oi\ a handheld computer that would have a high resolution 
graphics display screen and a very powerful modern language* Pre- 
liminary versions of the SmalK \k language were extensively lested with 
chiluren^ although the overall developmer t project is no^v air^^ed mainly at 
other markets. 

Thirty yea»s from now we can expect to have i^ex()enstve handheld 
Computers that exceed today's million*dollar machines in capability and 
ease of use* Computers will be more common than television sets are to- 
day. There will be large libraries of programs that can be used to help solve 
a continjally expanding range of problems. All educated people will niake 
everyday use of these computer libraries. 

It is important that students understand the rapid changes that ire occur* 
ring in the computer field and what the future is apt to bring* In particular, 
how will computers affect the job market and tne types of jobs that are 
available? Current estimates are that computer-based automation of manu* 
factunng in the United States wilt eliminate ten million jobs over the next 
twenty years. The office of the future will utilize word processing* com* 
puterized information retrieval and electronic mail Knowledge and skills 
needed to function *n this office environment of the future are different 
from the knowledge and skills that most students are acquiring in toda/s 
schools. The publishing and advertising industries will be drastic^ily 
changed by computerized video disks and computerized information re- 
trieval systems in people's homes. The postal system will be substanti.>lly 
changed by electronic mail. 

A student who understands these potential changes can plan accord- 
ingly* Decisions on education and career goals should take into con- 
sideration how computers are changing.our world* This is an important 
part of compu^^er literacy. 


One common way to talk about computer literacy is to discjjss knowl- 
edge, attitudes and skills* Vari'>us instruments hav^ been developed to test 
these aspects of computer literacy^ and test scores serve to define levels of 
competency* Another approach is to specify course goals and objectives 
and to develop specific course content to implement these goals, such as 
Neill and Rickelts have done." 

)n late 1982 the U*S. Federal governmf^nt made a grant to the Educa- 
tional Testing Service, Princeton, New Jersey to work onrteveloping a defi- 
nition of computer literacy and an instrument to measure literacy. Part of 
the work on the project has been subcontracted to the Human Riesources 
Research Organization of Alexandria. Virginia. The idea is to do a national 



study of school superintendents, principal teachers and students to 
rheasure their levels of computer literacy. 

the approach being taken is based upon the work of Neill and 
Rtcketts:'^'^^ It will include a multiple item test plus the gathering of some 
irifdrmatioh these groups of people actually use computers. Likely 
the cornputer literacy measurement instruments wril be reudy for initial 
testing in the fall of 1983- 

^ -Weiiave-noMttempted to use these approaches here, nor have dis- 
cussed their merits. Rath^r^ we lia\e used a different approach, based on 
the idea that a computer can have a personal impact upon the student, 
and that the student will be self -motivated to acquire a certain level of 
cornputer literacy because of the personal value of computers. This 
assumes, of course, tbat appropriate leammg opportunities are made 
available to students. Students need easy, everyday access to computers if 
the personal computing ideas of this paper are to be implemented suc- 
cessfully. Moreover, students need computer literate teachers. 

the conclusion reached in this booklet is that computer literacy is a func- 
tional knowledge of computers and their effects on students and on the 
rest of our society. This knowledge should be at a level compatible with 
other knowledge and skills a student is acquiring in school It is a 
knowledge based on understanding how computers can help us learn, 
how computers can help us solve problems, what computer knowledge is 
essential to a modern understanding of other academic areas, what is in- 
cluded in the field of computer and information science, computers as 
entertainment and what role computers will play in our changing world* 
This approach to computer literacy changes easily as computers become 
more readily available and easier to use, as we learn more about com- 
puters and integrate the knowledge into the curriculum, and as the use of 
computers becomes commonplace in homes, businesses, government and 

If students; are to acquire a functional knowledge of computers, our 
school system wilt need to provide substantial computer equipment and 
instruction. New courses will need \o be developed and many current 
courses will need to be revised* Support materials such as lesson plans, stu- 
dent workbooks, textbooks, ftlm:> and other computer-oriented materials 
will need to be developed. Teachers will need to develop their own com- 
puter literacy. 

The problem is large, but the goal is clear. Functional computer literacy 
is important for aM students. 

24 27 


1 . Mildred Seavefs^ Eugene Collins, Ed Heibei ^ Dean Laisen A Couise in Alf^bia and Tii^ 
gonovDetry wtlh Computer Programming, The University of Colorado, 1969, 

2. Confeience doaid of the Milhematical Sciences Committee on Compulei Education^ 
Recommenc^atjons R^ardtni; CompuWt^ tn Htgh Schoot Htfucairon, April 1 972, 

3. Robert Taylof, Hdrtoi. The Compiler m the 5tho(>f Tutor. Too/, Tutee, Teachers College 
Press^ I960, This book contains Ihiee papers by Alfred Boik, four papers by Thomas 

Dwyei^fourpapers bv.Arthur.Luehrtnann, four papers by Seymour Paperl an<* foui papers- 

by Pat lick Suppes, 

4. Seymour Papert. Mtn<i^ormy Chttdrvn, Ompuier> and PMvtfut Ideas. Basic 8ooks. New 
York, NY, 1980, 

5. Haiold Abelson and Andrea diSessa, Tun/e Ceomeity The Compuiei a Medium for Ex- 
p/ormg Maihemat/cs,^ The MJT Pfess, 198K 

6« Giayson Wheailey^ "Calculators in the Ciassioom, A Proposal for Cuiiiculum Change/' 
Arithmottc Teacher, December 1980, 

7, Tayloi, Pdifot, and Powell. "Compiling Competencies for School Teachers/' Association 
fof CompuiingMachmery joint SICCSH, SIGCUH "Topics " jssoe, ACM Order No. 812810 
lanuary 1981, 

8, J^an Rogeis and Rtchaid Austing. 'Recommendations foi a One Ye^r Secondary Schoo] 
Computet Science Couise,"' Association for Computinf^ Machinery joint SIGCSE, SIGCUE 
Topics" Issue, ACM Oidei No, 812810, January 1981, 

9, Jean Rogers. An Intioduction to Computing; Content fof a High School Couise, Interna- 
tional Council for Computeis in Education, University of Oiegon, Eugene,. Of egon, 1981 

10, Byte Magazme, Volume 6, Numbei 8, August 1981, This issue contains thirteen articles 
about the Smalijalk language and its potential ^plications, 

1 1, Michael Neill, An Emptricaf Mviho^ of tdenttfymg f/istiucJionaf Obiect^ve^ for a High 
School Computer trte^acy Curncufum, Ph.D. Thesis at the University of Oiegon, June 

12, DickRickettsiDiiector of Computet Education Goal Development) Course Coabf/i Com- 
puter Education, JC'J2, disseminated by the Northwest Regional Educational Laboiatory, 
Portland, Oregon, 1979. 

>3, Top*c5: Compotef Education for Coffeges of Edacatton. Association for Computing 
Machinery, New Yoik^ 1983, available from JCCE, 135 Education, Univeislty of Oregon, 
Eugene. OR 97403. 

14, The Compufrrtg Teacher. Vol. 10 #3, Special lx)go Issue, University of Oregon, Eugene, OR 





A finite, step by-sfep set of directions guar;inie4*d to solvt^ *i ^pt?cifie<i type of problem. 
Students le^rn ^Igortthms for ;iddition, subtr;iction, multif>)ic;iticn ;ind dtvision ol mufhdiglt 
positive whole numbers They also le^rn Jlgorilhms for lookmg u^>;i word in a dictiortarv ^nd 
ibr afPh^be^tzing a_ljsii>f words. A computer c Jn oirrv out the ste|>* in mjnv different types of 
Algorithms. Thus.lhe study of computers and the study of algorithms Me closely rel;ite<l sub. 

AMki^t hteW^iKt (At) 

How sm^n can ^ machine be^ Artificial Tntelhgence i^ the branch of computer science that 
studies this ciuestiorr. Computers can pU\y games such as checkers and chess. They can carry 
on a conversation in English via computer termtnaN aid in foreign language translation and 
carry out some of the tasks that a teacher currently performs to help students learn. Education 
is faced with the problem of deciding what students should learn to do mentally- what they 
should learn to do using pencil and paper and what they should fearn to do using other aids 
such af> a con^puter or a calculator. Progress m Al continually extends the capabtlities of com- 
puters and thus complicates the problem. 

9AStC (Be^nnw AU-imrfiose Symbolic tnstmctioa Code) 

The most widely used computer programming language, originally designed for by col' 
lege students BASIC is available on most inexpe jsive computers and is widely taught arnl 
used in secondary schools Although BASIC is someitmes taught to grade school students, 
there are other languages that are more suitable for use by children of this ^^e JeveL (See 

One of the symbols 0 or t The btnary number system uses |ust these two digits to represent 
numbers Stnce numbers and other quantities mside a computer are coded using a binary 
code. It is often felt that it is necessary to understand binary arithmetic in order to underStarKi 
computers. This is not correct, and the existet>ce of computers is noi a good justttication for 
trying to teach binary arithmetic to grade school students. Most adults who make u^e of com- 
puters on their jobs do not understand binary arithmetic^ 


An error Jn the computer field, bugs are often classified as software bugs (errors in a pro. 
gram) or hardware bugs (fJaws in the physical machinery) 

Centut Processing Umt iCPU) 

This is the part of the computer hardware that takes instructions from computer memory, 
figures out what operations the instructions specify and then carries out the mstruntions. The 
CPtJ of a middle^prtced modern comfHJter syste<>i is able to process several million instruc- 
tions per second. 


The transistor was invented in 1947 and proved to be an excellent replacement for vacuum 
tubes in many applications During the 1960s peopk* learned to manufacture a 4,irciMi contain, 
ing a number of transistors and other electronic components all in one mtegrated unit. This 
was called an mtegrated circuit Since a small "chip" of silicon was used m the process, it was 
also called a chip Continual rapid progress in developing smaller and smaller circuitry has led 
to the current situation where a single chipmaycontam the equivalent of tens of thousands of 
transistors and other electronic components Such chips can be mass produced, otten at a 
price of well under $10 each A single chip may form the heart of a calculator or he the central 
processing unit of a microcomputer. 



An ^lectromc digital machine designed for the input, storagejr manipulation and (HJtpul of 
alphabetic and numeric symbols. It can automatic ally and very rapidly follow a detailed^P* 
by-s^ sei^of diigf tions.lhat has been stored in its memory. (See Hardware and Software.}' 

ComiMifer Assisted It^ning (CAi> 

Any use of computers to help students learn. In tutor mode CAL. the student is acted upon 
^by the computer—the computer teaches the student. In tutee mode CAL the student is in 
charge^ directing the computer. Both forms of CAL are important in a modern education. 

To remove the bugs (errors) from a computer program or other set of directions, or tocorrect 
flaws in computer hardware. 

A storage device consisting of a flat circular plate coated with magnetizable material such as 
iron oxide, the same type of rraterial used to coat magnetic tape. If the disk is made of flexible 
plastic, it IS called a floppy dis^. If itismadeof rigjd metal, it iscalleda hard disk. Afloppy disk 
may store 100^000 to 150,000 characters and costs S3 to $6. while a hard disk pack may store 
300 million characters or rnore and is more expensive. 

Computers can beusedtoinput, store, manipulateand output architectural and engineering 
drawings, maps, pictures and so on. This aspect of computer scier>ce is called computer 


A computer system consists ^ both physical machirrery, cafled hardware', and computer 
programs, called software. The fwe main hardware components of a computer are input units* 
primary stora($e, central processing unit, secondary storage and output units. For an inexpen^ 
H^sive^ microcomputer system, the input.and outp^t^units arecoiribined in a typewriter style 
keyboard terminal, and secondary storage may be via an inexpensive cassette^tape recorder. 

toiorm«tPOit ffetfrfev^f <IR) 

The branch of computer sciencethat deals with the storage and retrieval of largeamounts of 
information. The collection of information that can be accessed is often called a data bank. A 
large dala bank may contain as much information as a large library of books. 


A computer programming language developed specifically for children by Seymour Papert 
at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, ft is an excellent language to use to introduce com- 
puters into the elementary and secondary school classroom. 


A computer whose central processing unit consists of one or a few large scale integrated cir- 
cuits (see C/rfpK^Microcomputer systems range m price from about SlCOlo S8.000 or more, 
and millions of these machines have been sold in the past few years. They are becoming a 
common item in both homes and schods. 


A millionth of a second. A modern, medium^prtced computer can carry out an operation 
such as multiplying two numbers in less than a microsecond. 

A model is a f^preseniaiton of certain key features of an object or sysiem to be studied. 
Scientif^ models often make uve of complex formulas and involve substanlial use ot 
mattiefliatics. If a computer ts used lo solve the equations and carry out Ihe necessary calcu* 
lations^ tKe process ts called a computer simutalton. Modelmg and simulation arcesseniial, 
toolsinevery area of fcience^ as well asm economics, business and a r>umt>er of othef fields. 


A billionth of a second. The most expensive computers now being manufactured can carry 
out an instruction in less than two nanosecortds. Such a machine will execute more than 500 
million instructions in one second! 

Ffogrmmfng Uagu^ 

Each computer is con:trucled to be able lo follow (execute) a program written in ils 
''machine language/' The machine language for a particular machine consists of perhaps 60 
to 300 different instructions, and different ntakes or models of computers tend to have dif- 
ferent machine languages A number of more universal high-fevel computer languages have 
been developed such as BAStC, COBOL, Logo. FORTRAN and Pascal Each language is de- 
signed t > be particularly useful to a specified ^roup of people^ For example, COBOL is de- 
signed for use in business and BAStC is a student-onented language. A particular computer 
can u^e one of these languages only if a translating program has been written to translate 
statement from the language into the computer's machine language. 

A computer system consists of both physical machinery, called hardware, and computer 
programs, called software. Both are necessary if the system is to perform a useful function. 
Language translators are one type of softwarethat allow programmersto use languages such as 
BASIC, COBOL. Logo and Pascal. These programs translate from the aforenamed languages 
into the machine languages of specific machines. A computing center often maintains a large 
library of programs designed to solve a wide vanety of problems. Such a software library is an 
essential tool for most people who use computers on their jobs. 

Tlme^md compatfitg 

A form of interactive computing in which a number of terminals are connected to a single 
computer system and share its resources. The system can be designed to allow easy com^ 
munication among the users Typical applications are airline and motel reservation systems, 
stock market quotation systems and multi user interactive instructional computing systems. 

Word processing 

Use of a computer as an automated typewriter. Paragraphs of standard materials, as well as 
rough drafts and corrplete documents* are s^^re j in computer memory. These may be edited 
or modified using a typewriter like keyboard Urrrinat. Error-free final copy can be rapidly 
printed otJt by the computer on a temiinal. 

The Computing Teacher/ published nine times per year/ contains 
many articles related to computer literacy and to other aspects of 
computers in precollege education. The 1982-83 price for a nine* 
issue subsc^ption is $16.50 for U.S. subscribers and $20 outside the 
U.S. The order address is the same as for this booklet. 

28 31 

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' 33