2.1 Basic Introduction

being revised July 2006 - links updated
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Basic Computer Skills give children immediate access to the largest library ever created - The Web. It is this cheap access to a universal source of information at any location with web access, that is changing the way teaching is done. While today we define this as the ubiquitous PC in the home it will in a few years be defined by the mobile handset (palm). It is this one reason that is driving the move for children to become web literate.

Web literacy is therefore the first milestone in the use of ICT in teaching children. The prerequisites for this are general literacy in reading and writing, and keyboard and mouse skills. In this situation, writing does not involve the handcrafting of letters but rather the "composing" of words from letters. It is quite possible that in the future the act of writing will be considered an art form.

The existence of the web is sufficient reason to recommend that all students at first intermediate year (Y7) be Web Literate. However web literacy can be acheived as early as preschool. This is already happening in many cases.

The following projects are aimed at the Y7 level and should be completed before High School. The projects could however be done a couple of years earlier with suitable scaling for age-group. Realistically, present levels of availability of computer and web access mean that this goal may not be achievable at some High Schools. (Conformance to this goal would be an interesting statistic.)

The major limitation to this process is the students' literacy skills. Most of the tutorial material makes little concession to the age group of its audience. This includes the help files within the products themselves.

Literacy Skills to some (as yet undetermined or unspecified) Level are required before Basic Computer Skills can be acquired. This is a fundamental prerequisite which is known to not be met at High School levels for a small proportion of students. Prerequisites for learning and literacy are bound up in the notion of a healthy community.

Here are two surveys which might provide some insight.

Exercise 1 - Design a test of web literacy that could be used to test children. The test could include levels of literacy, such as using a search engine. The test should also indicate prerequisite knowledge such as whether the student can start up a computer and access the web browser.
Exercise 2 - Conduct a test on 100 children in a specific age range of 1-2 years to determine their web literacy.
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