ICT illiteracy and technophobia: a profile of the basic ICT user

During last year I’ve been one of the tutors of the Degree on Human Sciences Project of a UOC student, Josep Maria Bars (Education, a challenge of the future).

In his final text I find a quotation of this work:
FEITO, Rafael. Nacidos para perder. Un análisis sociológico del rechazo y del abandono escolares. [Born to loose. A sociological analysis on scholarship crack] Secretaría de Estado de Educación. CIDE. Ministerio de Educación y Ciencia. Madrid. 1990
concerning the effect of non-scholarship in kids. Besides illiteracy, learning in the school of life makes them behave and think in some specific ways.

Thinking about it I find real parallelism between these facts and computer illiteracy, ICT illiteracy or technophobia. In this post I’ll try and translate the facts pointed by Feito and, after, reinterpret them in the key of ICT illiteracy or basic knowledge. #a will be the original statement and #b my own.

Please don’t understand what I say in a pejorative way, but in a barrier to be eliminated in order to fully get the advantages of ICT application to development goals.

So, personal characteristics of (a) lack of scholarship and (b) lack of ICT (intensive) literacy are:

1a. Kids think in general terms and real things, touchable and near him, not on abstract or nor primary things. The street is the place where nobody will control them but never think in how they’ll get their food

1b. Basic ICT users think on how to use their ofimatic suites, their mail reader, their internet browser, but rarely plan upgrading to intensive digitalization of content, databasing information or enhanced programming or use of more complex applications. They live in front of ICT but don’t think in a “digital” or in a “connected” way.

2a. Their vocabulary is limited and base on usual words and short statements. They have trouble expressing themselves.

2b. Their technical knowledge is limited and based on usual shortcuts and commands. They have trouble programming and customization and “talking” with the computer is a rough thing to do. They even have trouble talking to other people more used to ICT than them.

3a. They develop non-verbal communication: gestures…

3b. They rely on shortcuts and predefined menus: all at mouse’s reach…

4a. They develop speed, strength and balance, but not more precise skills

4b. (Well, I guess this is too physical to translate to ICT illiteracy but, nevertheless) They develop speed in routine and self-confidence, but feel uncomfortable (and slow) in new environments he’s unable to understand due to learning by doing but not learning by thinking.

5a. They don’t plan in the long run and aim having their efforts immediately accomplished. They refuse getting a long term job that might help them to survive and look for alternatives to get easy and daily income.

5b. they don’t plan in the long run and won’t invest time (or effort or money) in new applications, more complex but with more features. Having today’s tasks done is a must and no wonder thinking on investing some delay in order to get them done quicker and easier in some days/months.

6a. They are based not in their expectations but in their own experiences. They think according to their bad experiences and not according a better future

6b. They are based not in their expectations but in their own experiences. They think according to their bad experiences and not according a better future [that was an easy one ;) ]

7a. They don’t try to improve personally

7b. They don’t try to improve personally in the field of ICT and their knowledge related to them. Progress in ICT means nothing to them but a headache to avoid and more and more strange people jargon

8a. It’s hard for them to reflect

8b. It’s hard for them to reflect on the state of ICT and what they can bring to his work and professional commitments

9a. They have rough emotional changes. They’re used to uncomfortable situations

9b. Their technophobia might make them act angrily in front of unknown things and concepts. They’re used to uncomfortable situations in the use of ICT in general, especially hardware or software bugs.

10a. They give up easily and have trouble finding ways to improve, they can use violence to feel released

10b. They give up easily and have trouble finding ways to improve their illiteracy in front of some problems and negation of technological dead-ends is the easiest way to keep on with the statu quo

11a. They’re physically and verbally aggressive

11b. [I guess this one has no translation in any way]

12a. They usually don’t have the conscience of having the greatest part of control upon their own lives. They attribute their problems to other people, never to themselves

12b. They usually don’t have the conscience of having the greatest part of control upon their ICT knowledge and application to daily tasks. They attribute their problems to other people (developers, computer technicians…) and technology, never to themselves

It’s sure this kind of profile might be a little bit forced, but I’m also sure we’ve found plenty of people that has done anything but ease the implementation of ICT in some projects. It’s surely not their fault, but a matter of ICT illiteracy that makes them behave that way.

Thus, when bridging the digital divide we surely have to pay some more attention to be well understood, have people know what we plan to do and why, and try that everyone shares same point of view.

If you need to cite this article in a formal way (i.e. for bibliographical purposes) I dare suggest:

Peña-López, I. (2004) “ICT illiteracy and technophobia: a profile of the basic ICT user” In ICTlogy, #4, January 2004. Barcelona: ICTlogy.
Retrieved month dd, yyyy from http://ictlogy.net/review/?p=57

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