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Education Technology

Would You Pass the Information Literacy Test? 356

Posted by timothy
from the big-stupid dept.
Grundelfeldsten writes "The Educational Testing Service -- the maker of the SAT and the GMAT -- has a new test called the Information and Communication literacy assessment. The test is designed to measure your "ability to make sense of the multiple streams of information that our computers throw at us every day," according to a Wired News reporter who just took it and described the process. The questions focus on completing tasks with Internet technologies, like using search engines efficiently and weeding out irrelevant email messages. Are such tasks really tied to technology? Or is "Information and Communication literacy" just a way for ETS to make money by selling more tests?"
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Would You Pass the Information Literacy Test?

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  • by alanw (1822) * <alan@wylie.me.uk> on Tuesday April 12, 2005 @05:04AM (#12210192) Homepage
    Don't bother trying the free demo if you don't have Flash, block popup windows, or
    restrict cookies. That's some of the most pointless web site coding I've ever seen.
    • by The New Andy (873493) on Tuesday April 12, 2005 @05:06AM (#12210200) Homepage Journal
      You passed.

      Avoiding flash, popups and cookies gives you IT_literacy++.

      • Re:Congratulations (Score:5, Insightful)

        by smchris (464899) on Tuesday April 12, 2005 @06:07AM (#12210376)
        Although the 6"x5" Flash window means the type displays at about friggin' 5 point. Cute layout. Virtually unreadable demo with 17" at 1152x864. A pet peeve I have with web designers.

        Seems like a valid office worker test to me. And, obviously more important, a money-making need to promote that they can fill.
        • Amen, brother!

          Why, oh why, do they do that?
        • I saw an ecommerce site a few weeks ago that was selling something (a badge?), and described the image as being "actual size".

          Looked a bit smaller to me, but then my monitor at home runs at 1280x1024, rather than whatever they decided to design the site for...
        • well at least you could use the demo...
          on an 800*600 laptop screen no possibility of using any of the buttons.
          Really The site appears to be designed by a half wit.

          Can anyone take this site seriously with such poor design of the site?

          http://www.ecdl.com/main/index.php [ecdl.com] European Computing Driving Licience
          Similar aims but a better site.
    • I e-Mailed the people and told them this, and told them they shouldn't claim to be giving tests on information literacy, if they don't know how to develop a professional website.

      For professional websites, you should use as much static html as possible. Flash should mostly be used for entertainment, especially the type of entertainment that appeals to stoned kids at 3 AM.
  • in aus (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 12, 2005 @05:07AM (#12210205)
    Most universities over here have this as a standard test for first year students, to make sure they can use search engines properly and also reference material properly.
    • Re:in aus (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Caff (676847)
      That's really surprising. Here in Canada, from my experience in first year, a lot of my classmates had still not discovered how to use search engines effectively. As for referencing material, we actually spent some time on that, for a writing class. The idea of a test that can evaluate the ability of students to process all this information is good, but I'm still skeptical as to whether the results would be accurate or useful.
      • How exactly would you define using search engines "effectively"?
        Most people (I imagine) would simply type a keyword or two into Google and see what happens...

        What are they missing?
        • Re:in aus (Score:2, Interesting)

          by Caff (676847)
          I think the use of enough keywords so that useful results come out when they enter their keywords in. Most of the time, when people ask me to find something for them, I usually tell them to try Google first. Most of the time, they pick search terms that are too broad, or don't bother doing simple things like putting quotes around phrases that they want, or just giving another keyword to narrow down the results, and end up getting all sorts of useless results. I've noticed this from some of my fellow stud
        • Re:in aus (Score:4, Interesting)

          by Adrilla (830520) * on Tuesday April 12, 2005 @06:03AM (#12210365) Homepage
          There are ways to word questions to get the proper results. Sometimes the words you add or omit make a world of difference in what you get back. Using + and - signs. Find all words in a term, to make sure you get that term exactly instead of having some page comeback that has nothing to do with what you want, because it happened to have a couple of matching words in the result. Learning to correctly use a boolean search engine can make your internet life a lot simpler, and if you don't know the intracacies you should learn them, especially if you're a student.
  • by Dancin_Santa (265275) <DancinSanta@gmail.com> on Tuesday April 12, 2005 @05:10AM (#12210212) Journal
    The unqualifiable answer to that question is an emphatic YES. The fact of the matter is that what we here on /. think of as "computer usage" is a far cry from what normal people with actual exposure to the sun and a plethora of IRL friends think. For us, a computer usage scenario includes hooking up and programming an LED disco light floor to our Linux laptop using USB 2.0 and getting it to spell 55378008.

    The typical computer user gets online, checks his email, checks his stock prices, then gets back to his real life. Our real life revolves around computers, so such minimal usage seems strange and scary to us. However, it is actually what most users do.

    You'd be surprised to learn that the computer usage scenario of the "real person" I described above is actually that of a "Power User". The typical person can barely turn the computer on, much less open Outlook Express without help from one of these Power Users. So, in fact, this test is useful as a step in the process of weeding out non-computer oriented hires.
    • by onion2k (203094) on Tuesday April 12, 2005 @05:22AM (#12210248) Homepage
      I think it's a little more complicated than that. If you look at the task of, for example, checking email and finding spam, you have two options. Either you test whether someone knows what buttons in Outlook to click on, or you show them a client they're never seen before and ask them to figure it out. Testing a user on Outlook is tying the problem to the technology. Testing the user on a new email client is looking for pattern recognition, problem solving, and general logic applied to IT skills.

      In my opinion, to be "IT literate" you should be able to transfer skills between applications. Thats what the test ought to be looking for..
      • Sir, can you explain that simple concept to my wife? I get in serious trouble every time I try :-)

        The first 350 attempts for me are totally calm, compassionate, and loving, after that I have a tendency to mutter various sentences starting with 'WTF' under my breath.

      • In my opinion, to be "IT literate" you should be able to transfer skills between applications. Thats what the test ought to be looking for..

        If that is true, then everyone in sales, management, and Marketing here would fail. they whined and called the help desk non-stop for 2 weeks when we upgraded from windows NT 4 to Windows 2000. and I dread the nightmare that will be the move to XP and it's hide everything from you interface defaults.

        I STILL get people saying that their software was deleted and do no
      • In my opinion, to be "IT literate" you should be able to transfer skills between applications.

        EXACTLY!

        I don't know how many times I've been working with someone, and they're perfectly proficient in Word, Excel, and all the other crap that came with their computer. But when they want me to explain a new feature, and I say "Pick BAR from the FOO menu and select QUUX from the BAZ list" or something like that, they have no idea what to do and want me to point at things to click.

        It's like being computer-fluent instead of computer-proficient. I can be a little proficient at Spanish, and have conversations about relatively tame topics, but if I'm fluent I can pick up pretty easily on other topics as well. It's the same with computers: many people have a very limited "vocabulary" of skills, but they can't extend it to other applications or situations.

        • This is where the problem lies. People getting paid to sit in front of a computer, and having no idea how to use it. Even in the programming field, there are many people who don't really know how to program. They can program in X, but the moment you tell them to program something in Y, they lose everything. People are just like this for some reason.

          I think the reason I, and many other, computer literate people are good with computers is because we've used so many different programs, and have been ab
        • by BlewScreen (159261) on Tuesday April 12, 2005 @08:27AM (#12211066)
          And what do you do when it's a programmer who can't use his/her computer? My pet peeve is people who rely on the mouse to use their IDE.

          A couple of years ago, I worked with a developer who didn't know the "shortcut" key for build and I thought that was bad... little did I know...

          Just yesterday, I watched a "programmer" fix a function on an object with a member named nSize. The function took parameter nSize1 and never set the member.

          How does my coworker fix this? He selects nSize from the declaration with the mouse (already, I'm annoyed) and then right clicks to select "copy"...

          Then, he scrolls down to the function definition, using the mouse and the scroll bar (not the wheel) and clicks where he's gonna insert the assignment... Then, he uses the keyboard to hit return and tab to put the cursor in the right spot (both hands on the keyboard for this). Then, back to the mouse, right click: "paste".

          Ok, so now I'm really annoyed, the amount of text above was typed in about the amount of time he took to do all of this - and "nSize" really isn't all that hard to type, right?

          It gets better... He switches both hands back to the keyboard, types a space and hits the "=" key (again, both hands) then, back to the mouse...

          What he did next almost caused my head to explode...

          You and I both know he's got "nSize" in memory, just waiting to be pasted again, then it's pretty easy to append the number 1 on it... But no, he has to actually select the parameter from the function definition, right click: copy, move the cursor back to the line of code he's trying to write, right click: paste, then type the semi-colon (this is C#).

          Holy crap - that's a helluva lotta work for:

          nSize = nSize1;

          I didn't change the variable name to protect the innocent. This really is the line of code he used the mouse to write.

          Of course, this guy uses the mouse to do everything - but seriously, he's been coding for at least five years - does it take that long to learn how to type? Much less use ctrl-c / ctrl-v...

          </rant>

          -bs

          • I work at a phone support desk. When we ask people to power-cycle their computers, we have to tell them to power-cycle that little box under the desk, where they put the floppy disks in. Not the monitor.

            Why, oh why, is this paradigm so hard to imagine? Take the (Monitor, Computer, Keyboard) tuple, and map it to the (Television, DVD Player, Remote Control) tuple. Why, exactly, is the latter so much easier to understand than the former?

            Bah. Pet peeve of mine.

            More on-topic, folks back in school used to blin
            • I work at a phone support desk. When we ask people to power-cycle their computers, we have to tell them to power-cycle that little box under the desk, where they put the floppy disks in. Not the monitor.
              Oh, you mean the modem.

              /fellow tech support geek
    • I do tech support, and recently had someone call in from an office somewhere, concerned that the computer they had just given her wasn't working properly. She said that whenever she turned it on, she got a black screen that said Windows XP down in the corner. She was trying everything she could think of to make it work, which mainly involved trying different combinations of the buttons on the monitor that work the onscreen display for adjusting monitor settings. She turned it off and then on again, and 'ins
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 12, 2005 @05:13AM (#12210219)
    You are given a Slashdot poll. How should you respond?

    A) Choose an honest and accurate option
    B) Choose an obviously ridiculous option
    C) Do not answer, and complain that your preferred option was unavailable.
    D) Refuse to answer, citing moral, philosophical opposition to the poll itself.
    E) CowboyNeal
  • wrong test (Score:5, Funny)

    by iamthemoog (410374) on Tuesday April 12, 2005 @05:15AM (#12210228) Homepage
    Surely a better test would be to measure the user's ability to use tools (spam filters, RSS feed aggregators, tivo-style commercial skipping, popup blockers, slashdot dupe checkers etc) to efficiently cope with / filter the "multiple streams of information" we're all bombarded with?
  • by godless dave (844089) on Tuesday April 12, 2005 @05:19AM (#12210238)
    At least they got one thing right:

    ETS research scientist David Williamson ... noted that the software interfaces were not likely to change to look more like Outlook or any other program. In fact, they were purposely designed to be vendor-neutral. This, he said, places the emphasis on the task and not the technology. "We went to great efforts to make it not like any commercial product," said Williamson. "There are already plenty of commercial product certifications out there that can measure how adept you are at using software. But what we're trying to target is providing only the minimal software functionality that's required to get the task done."
    The ETS people at least understand one thing many employers don't: the important computer skills are independent of the various tools used to carry them out. We've all heard (or experienced) horror stories of applicants being turned down for a web developer position because they don't have experience with a specific piece of software (Dreamweaver, for example). Many employers can't grok the fact that someone who knows how to code pages in a text editor will learn Dreamweaver or whatever in-house application is being used in 10 or 15 minutes. Someone who is competent at database admin will be equally competent with MySQL, dBase, or - the most common case - the customized proprietary software that only exists at your company. It's time employers stopped looking at paper certs for competency with specific pieces of software and started looking at actual skills. Maybe ETS can help them do that.
    • Maybe ETS can help them do that

      It can't be the right way, it's too little, too broad, too not good for anything :]

    • Mostly true.

      However, as someone who knows 12 programming languages and takes about four hours to learn a new one, let me just tell you that I spent the last week learning a language tied to a proprietary product.

      It's totally different; it has its own features that nothing else does, and there are about 10 different manuals describing it.

      I might also add that while the SQL specification can be written on two 8.5x11 sheets, the manual for Oracle is a 600 page book. Obviously it has a little more function
      • I might also add that while the SQL specification can be written on two 8.5x11 sheets, the manual for Oracle is a 600 page book. Obviously it has a little more functionality than just any old database engine.

        Umm, the size of the manual proves nothing. Take your 2 page SQL specification in one hand, and I'll write 4 pages on the use of the SQL SELECT statement. Does this prove that SELECT has more features than all of SQL (including SELECT) put together?

        If a concise specification for C is shorter than

    • someone who knows how to code pages in a text editor

      What? there's an other way? Now you tell me.
    • by oneiros27 (46144) on Tuesday April 12, 2005 @07:06AM (#12210590) Homepage
      I'll agree to a point -- the best security class I ever had was in an 'Engineering Management' department, and it went over general concepts, risk analysis, but never went into details on any particular tools. They mentioned that tools existed to do specific tasks, and they brought out PGP to explain assymetric keys, but that was it. The result was that they covered a lot of the items that can't be fixed by technology -- like users, and the need for policies and training, not just some firewall appliance.

      However, as someone who's had to switch between apps many, many times, I'd say that it takes a whole lot more than 10-15 minutes to get up to speed on a new technology. The concepts of good SQL structure may remain the same between databases, and you'll be able to get to a basic competent level, but 'show tables' just doesn't work in Oracle (one possibile replacement is 'SELECT TABLE_NAME FROM ALL_TABLES WHERE OWNER='schema name'). Learning the syntax differences between languages takes some time -- figuring out how you have to handle specific tasks, and the refinements between the different apps (eg, some languages may optimize different logic patterns, so one style of loop may be faster in LanguageA, while a different type of loop is faster in LanguageB.)

      I'd say that there's a good chance that if the person is truly competent in one application, they'll be competent in another similar application ... but equally competent? I don't think so.
    • by akadruid (606405) <slashdot@t h e d r u i d . c o .uk> on Tuesday April 12, 2005 @07:42AM (#12210765) Homepage
      We have a million miles to go before we can stop teaching applications and start teaching skills.

      You ask a school teacher why 40% of their budget is spent on microsoft products, and the only answer is: "That's what the industry uses, we'd be failing our kids if we taught them anything else". Hence our kids come out knowing MS Word, not word processing, MS Excel, not spreadsheets, and so on, and those kids will be buying MS software for life.

      The comparisons are easy: Imagine a school that taught how to use BIC biro, not how to write, a school that taught B&Q tools, not woodwork, how to use Nike sports gear... ... and so on. You can think of a million examples.
      • Wish I had mod points for you... this is a battle I've been fighting here at work (English students don't need MS Office, OOo works for 99% of what they do, etc)
        • It's the old "No-one ever got fired for buying IBM" mindset (except now it's Microsoft).

          Better to waste millions/billions of taxpayer money on indoctrinating our children than go out on a limb, even for better education. Of course, windows admins are cheap and 'linux is hard' (meaning I have wasted countless hours on windows, i'm not doing it again), becuase of the culture of windows... which the school is recreating in a vicious circle.

          One day, perhaps the FLOSS community can break the circle of 'nothin
      • by Pionar (620916)
        You ask a school teacher why 40% of their budget is spent on microsoft products, and the only answer is: "That's what the industry uses, we'd be failing our kids if we taught them anything else". Hence our kids come out knowing MS Word, not word processing, MS Excel, not spreadsheets, and so on, and those kids will be buying MS software for life.

        I'd like you to find a school teacher who says that 40% of their budget is spent on Microsoft products. If you do, I'll show you a liar. There's no way the enti
  • by Devistater (593822) <devistater@NoSPam.hotmail.com> on Tuesday April 12, 2005 @05:23AM (#12210252)
    I took this test when they were doing a pilot test at my college (they did the same at several colleges) a couple months ago. My college offered a $25 amazon gift card and a chance to win ipod. It took a couple hours to go through the whole thing, and the interface was kinda klunky. Plus at the end when I tried to fill out the comment part about the test it crashed the browser so I couldn't send my comments in lol. What was really cool was that they ended up sending out TWO amazon gift certificates (I think they accidently sent out an extra to everyone, perhaps some ppl complained because they entered wrong email to send the cards to or something) to me for $25. So I got paid $50 for a couple hours hehehe.
  • Honestly. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ggvaidya (747058) on Tuesday April 12, 2005 @05:29AM (#12210270) Homepage Journal
    is "Information and Communication literacy" just a way for ETS to make money by selling more tests?

    Gosh, no, is that the impression you got? Jesus. When a private corporation expands its offerings in order to generate sales, they're always doing it out of the goodness of their hearts. Why, if it had anything to do with making money it'd be ... unethical? Capitalistic? Smart? One of those, I'm sure ...

    Companies have a right to make money. That's why they're there.
    • A right? (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Nursie (632944)
      i think you're getting confused. Companies have a duty to make money (that's what they're for). They even have rights pursuant to activities surrounding the making of money. They do not have the right to make money, otherwise they could sit and do nothing and then demand taxpayer cash from the government because their rights were being infringed.

      Nobody has the right to make money.
      • Re:A right? (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Quill345 (769162)

        i think you're getting confused. Companies have a duty to make money (that's what they're for). They even have rights pursuant to activities surrounding the making of money. They do not have the right to make money, otherwise they could sit and do nothing and then demand taxpayer cash from the government because their rights were being infringed.

        And that doesn't happen these days? ;) (Don't look at the defense industry!)

  • Wow (Score:5, Interesting)

    by TrappedByMyself (861094) on Tuesday April 12, 2005 @05:33AM (#12210280)
    Tried the demo and couldn't get past the first one. Too many words.
    I can handle multiple streams of information just fine, but one bloated verbose thing obviously wipes me out.

    I can really see the bias now that everyone talks about. I'm perfectly fine at processing large amount of information if I can read it in chunks. But this wordy spaghetti academic writing is too confusing for me. I had a flashback to the reading comprehension sections of the tests in school where I had to read over the same paragraph a dozen times before I could figure it out.
    I can see how I did so awful in college, but am doing great in the real world.
    • Re:Wow (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Another thing they try to teach you in school is not to cheat. But in the real world if some employee of mine is sitting at his desk trying to figure something out for more than 20 minutes without asking someone knowledgable in the subject, I fire them.

      In the real world, it's okay to ask questions and ask for help.

      This isn't about teamwork which is also important, it's about getting your work done quickly so that we can make money. We don't make money if you're afraid to ask questions.
    • Re:Wow (Score:4, Funny)

      by Some Bitch (645438) on Tuesday April 12, 2005 @06:02AM (#12210360)
      I can see how I did so awful in college

      So can we ;)

    • I can see how I did so awful in college, but am doing great in the real world.

      You mean /.? That doesn't count.

      OK, you're right: much of the real world doesn't require the ability to read above an 8th-grade level. But some of the most interesting and enriching parts do.

  • by jellomizer (103300) * on Tuesday April 12, 2005 @05:34AM (#12210284)
    I find it amazing that people always want to find a way to mathatize (I know mathatize is probably not a word) everything. Lets create a test so we can put people in pigeon holes and see who is better then the other. Person A got 25 more IT vocabulary words right then person B, I guess Person A is better then computers then person B. except for the fact that Person B has been doing computer programming for 40 years and created (and forgot) many of those IT vocabulary Words. When will people realize that people are not something that can be graded on 1 demential grading scale, and things like common sense, experience, creativity, determination, or bravery (willing to break it apart and tinker with it). Can often compensate any failure in just knowing the information. Yea these methods are a little slower then just having the answer at the tip of finger to fill out the question, but in real life it works just as well.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Wow, this is possibly the most illiterate, confused post I have read since changing to reading at +2. Mathatize? If you thought about it a little longer, you'd realise the word must be quantify. 1 demential doesn't even have the right number of syllables; try one dimensional.

      That isn't even the end of my rant. If you can't discuss coherently, at least discuss with topicality. No one is trying to reduce your worth as a human being into a single number. They are trying to reduce your 21st century info

    • You're right, we should do a test for this!
    • > bravery (willing to break it apart and tinker with it)

      Not to mention:

      skill - it works when you put it back together

      not sure what you'd call this one - not worrying about that leftover spring that doesn't go anywhere but the thing still works flawlessly without it.
    • by fishbot (301821) on Tuesday April 12, 2005 @06:36AM (#12210483) Homepage
      When will people realize that people are not something that can be graded on 1 demential grading scale, and things like common sense, experience, creativity, determination, or bravery

      I'm wondering; did you mean demential (in a state of dementia) or dimensional (having a measure of extent)? I think they both fit just as well in today's IT world!
    • It's time for a vocabulary lesson. Instead of "mathetize", which is indeed not a real word by any stretch of the imagination, you should use the word "quantify". And now you know.
  • Computer Literacy (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SteveTheRed (244567) on Tuesday April 12, 2005 @05:38AM (#12210294) Homepage
    My Evil Stepmother once told me that she wanted to go to community college to learn how to "do computer".

    She would never pass a test like this. She thinks that AOL is the internet. She also thinks that it is great that there is lots of free (as in spyware, not beer or speech) software out there like gator and comet cursor.

    I think that she is an excellent example of a real, average computer user.
  • Practice (Score:5, Interesting)

    by RocketRainbow (750071) <rocketgirl.myrealbox@com> on Tuesday April 12, 2005 @05:40AM (#12210302) Homepage Journal
    I'm 21. I've had computers since I was 8, regular internet since about 12. I assume most people do. So why are some people naturally well disposed to figure out how to use search engines and email while others think of a computer as a magical device they cannot use?

    I'd rather see a real assessment of the skills required to successfully use a computer as part of regular life - then test for these skills such as pattern matching, ability to follow complex instructions...

    It's much more fair on people who have less computer access and more to the point, weeds out those who have real potential to do the job with a bit of instruction from those who will never do these things particularly well.

    I'm also working on the idea of putting together a primer for people who don't understand what computers are for. They're often sold as appliances but with the multitude of functions they are supposed to have now, they obviously must be quite complex. Explaining the basics in clear language (including why we need such weird jargon) might help get people started on the right track instead of confusing themselves into a frenzy.
    • Re:Practice (Score:5, Insightful)

      by slavemowgli (585321) * on Tuesday April 12, 2005 @06:06AM (#12210375) Homepage

      I assume most people do. So why are some people naturally well disposed to figure out how to use search engines and email while others think of a computer as a magical device they cannot use?

      Judging from my experience, it's a mixture of curiosity (enjoying tinkering) and courage (not being afraid to try out things). And most of the time, what those who don't get along well with computers etc. and don't pick up any knowledge even after using them for years are missing is courage - people who never do anything they don't already know about will never learn anything new.

      Of course, I can understand that people value their data and don't want to lose any of it, but it seems that the less knowledge people have with regard to computers, the more outright paranoid they get.

      It's kind of a vicious circle really (ignorance produces fear, and fear prevents tinkering and thus - indirectly - knowledge), and I'm not sure how to break out of it. The idea that software has to be "dumbed down" until even the most clueless person can use it without ever having to check the manual/online help/whatever seems good at first glance, but it also limits what you can and cannot do, and gives you the impression that you in fact DO know everything there is to know when you don't, thus robbing you of the ability (or at least making it more difficult) to learn more.

      • Re:Practice (Score:2, Interesting)

        by bkr1_2k (237627)
        "Fear is the mind killer." Or so they say. You're dead on with the courage thing though. All the members of my family that "need" computer help at least once a week call me. It's not that I'm necessarily smarter than they are, just that I'm willing to make a mistake and learn how to fix it myself. I don't let it bother me when I do something wrong, and they do.

        People always ask me how I learned so much about computers and my simple answer is "I break them and then I fix them." That simple statement s
      1. So why are some people naturally well disposed to figure out how to use search engines and email while others think of a computer as a magical device they cannot use?

      Overload, capacity, and interest. People can't know everything, so they choose some things and deal with those. If they can borrow your brain and experience to do things they aren't interested in or do not have the time to deal with, they may be doing the smart thing. (Or they may be dumb as rocks and can't figure anything out by themsel

  • by TheWormThatFlies (788009) on Tuesday April 12, 2005 @05:45AM (#12210310) Homepage

    I don't think that being able to filter out signal from noise on the internet has very much to do with technological know-how. The technology involved is either transparent (if you're a competent computer user) or an obstacle in carrying out the decisions you've made (if you're not a competent computer user).

    Whether you are capable of making the right decisions about what information to accept or reject is almost entirely an issue of language skills and reading comprehension.

    The people who continue posting their sob-stories as comments to some random guy's blog entry because they're convinced that the blog entry is Maury Povich's homepage aren't doing it because they're confused by Teh Intarweb (although it is a secondary factor); they're doing it because they can't read.

    The guy thinking "Why, yes, I would like a penis enlargement; let me send you my credit card number!" would probably be falling for a snail-mail snake-oil scam right now if it weren't for the internet.

    People who don't have good language skills are usually oblivious to the mistakes made by others, and thus often can't tell the difference between a genuine official document and something which is obviously not an official document because it is full of spelling and grammar mistakes and makes no sense.

    I admit that a familiarity with the types of information sources available on the internet, their usual form, and their relative usefulness and reliablility, is helpful. For example, someone new on the internet may be unaware that nobody ever sends official warnings of danger to random people over email - and so they may be fooled by a well-written email hoax which more knowledgeable people would immediately mark as BS.
  • Is this a poll? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by octal666 (668007) on Tuesday April 12, 2005 @06:02AM (#12210358)
    I choose "It's just a way to make money selling tests" Testing Internet skills in children today is like testing television skills in the children of the 80's.
  • by tverbeek (457094) on Tuesday April 12, 2005 @06:02AM (#12210359) Homepage
    I don't know if this test in particular is a valid solution for it, but I've suggested that the art-and-design college where I work use something like this to change the handling of computers in their curriculum. Currently they assume incoming students know nothing and put an Intro to Computers class on their first-year class list. And a lot of them need it. But the ones who show up the first day of class with a scuffed-up PowerBook loaded with Lightwave, Final Cut, Macromedia Studio, and Adobe Creative Suite would be better off skipping the (IMHO) remedial education (a waste of their time, money, and enthusiasm) and go right into a studio class that teaches them what to do with Photoshop, not how to use it.
  • by smchris (464899) on Tuesday April 12, 2005 @06:17AM (#12210408)
    but I immediately thought of this as an HR test for potential office workers instead of an academic competency test. I suppose it could be a shiny new toy at Student Services in their "How to Study" program but still seems secondary to a lot of other essential academic abilities.
  • April 1 (Score:2, Funny)

    by JeyKottalam (461624) *
    I thought April 1 was almost 2 weeks ago?

    OK, I've said that there should be a test to use teh internets, but I was just joking...
  • huh? (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 12, 2005 @06:22AM (#12210423)
    A) Y C) sux0r B) w00t! D)meh

    A B C D 1. May I ask your kindness in moving sum of 28 million US dollars?
    A B C D 2. Woul\d yo/u like to s|ho0t ga%llons of c*U%m?
    A B C D 3. Would you like a FREE iPOD?
    A B C D 4. Me too!
    A B C D 5. RUHOTT?
    A B C D 6. Does it support OGG?
  • GMAT is not ETS (Score:2, Informative)

    by krunk4ever (856261)
    just wanted to let you know. i think you might be thinking of GRE instead. GMAT is actually a trademark of Graduate Management Admission Council [gmac.com].
  • by Robotron23 (832528) on Tuesday April 12, 2005 @06:51AM (#12210527) Homepage
    Do YOU qualify for a free iPod?

  • "...ETS and a group of colleges and universities have collaborated to create the ICT Literacy Assessment, a comprehensive test of ICT proficiency specifically designed for the higher education environment...

    Have you ever:

    1. Kissed a friend or stranger on their hands or their head/neck region as a friendly gesture?

    2. Held hands with someone?

    3. Had a date...

    "

  • by zoomba (227393) <mfc131&gmail,com> on Tuesday April 12, 2005 @06:59AM (#12210558) Homepage
    Has anyone here been to a University in the past several years? Everything from Art to Business to IT Programs at Univs now have their own "Intro to Computing" classes that they force just about everyone to take because they're under the assumption that most students haven't used a computer before.

    Now, I'm not talking classes about how to build web pages, or how to effectively utilize Google, I'm talking about "Ok, now class... this is a... mouse!" and there aren't ways currently to profeciency test out of them. I had to sit through my intro to computing class because attendance was required, and while I was there I kept myself busy tinkering with my linux server in my dorm room. The professor caught me once and asked what I was doing... I answered and they had NO clue what I was saying. I wonder who needs an intro class more.

    A test like this, while ridiculous to those of us used to technology, is needed right now at the College level. They don't believe that students come to college now with basic computer skills, and the only thing that will convince them are test scores that prove this point. In the immediate future, at least these tests could allow those of us who know where the power switch is to skip those sorts of classes that are just a waste of our time.
    • When I started my Computer Engineering degree a couple of years ago, we had to sit through a standard "Intro to computing test", featuring the use of Word, Excel and Notepad (For the Intro To HTML section).

      There were people who *failed* it.

      That's right, people doing a degree in Computer Engineering who failed *using Word*. Some of those people now have a BEng and still cannot use a word processor, let alone anything more complex.

      I feel sorry for anyone who might hire them.
    • At my university you can only test out of the first intro course. Unfortunately, the testing software sucks and demands that you do things the exact way taught in the class (which you haven't taken). AFAIK, nobody's been able to pass it. From what I've seen, it's really annoying and Microsoft-centric. For instance, in Word, pressing Alt, T, W would be an incorrect way to spell check a document (something I'm sure it asks).
  • Try http://www.ecdl.co.uk/ [ecdl.co.uk] The European Computer Driving Licence is what this would like to be. The ECDL covers a level of computer literacy which most of the /. users would find laughable but for Jo Normal, and his employer, demonstates teh ability to have overcome the initial hump in the learnign curve.
  • Would you pass the Information Literacy Test?

    ... that pretty much answers the question...
  • by $criptah (467422) on Tuesday April 12, 2005 @09:14AM (#12211416) Homepage

    This problem is very easy to fix. Let's do what was done in the former USSR in order to make sure that only the ones who can go on to get more education when it comes to public schools. I went to one of the best schools in the United States (according to Newsweek) and I was astonished by a number of people who clearly did not belong there. I can only imagine what happens in the rest of the public schools that are ranked lower than mine.

    It works like this. Everybody is evaluated in terms of academic performance after then 10th grade. Anybody with a GPA of 3.0 and higher can move on further. People who have GPAs of 2.6-3.0 can move on after a consulation with councelors and only if their GPA is going to improve from there. Students who have a GPA of lower than 2.6 must find education somewhere else (vocational schools, private schools, etc.). Why should we waste our taxmoney on people who are not willing to study to begin with? In my case, 60% of people who attended the 9th grade did not come back to the 10th. That was pretty kick ass, considering the fact that everybody who made it actually wanted to study and move on. Classes were better, people were better and teachers had more room to breathe. Some of them finally started teaching instead of policing the ones who caused problems.

    When I came to the United States, I was surprised to find out that this education system was willing to keep everybody regardless of their academic performance and behavior. In order to get expelled you had to some something quite outrageous that even most troublemakers did not attempt to do on a daily basis. This system is basically designed to have as many suckers as possibe. WTF? I believe this is the core of the problem. However, I do not have a Ph.D in Education; therefore, the final word is not mine.

    Anyway, after you 'take care' of students who underperform and caused troubles, make sure that people who graduate from high schools meet certain requirements and make Information Studies as a part of the deal. Some bright kids do not have computers at home and it is hard for them to learn about something they do not have. Make sure that there is a class that these folks can take in order to broaden their knowledge. Then add a programming course or two because in the future everybody will need to be able to do something like that. I can't tell you how many biology and geography students I've met who were not prepared to take even simple programming classes in college (part of their requirements in order to do some sort of studies). In Belarus we had a course on simple algorithms where students had to write simple programs using BASIC. Mind you, this was in a country where majority of households do not have computers! We had only one class with 20 computers where kids had to share machines. I am sure that in the States we can come up with a better alternative. Once you make classes smaller by, weeding out the ones who do not want to study anyway, our schools can spend more money per student.

    • by analog_line (465182) on Tuesday April 12, 2005 @10:42AM (#12212367)
      Students who have a GPA of lower than 2.6 must find education somewhere else (vocational schools, private schools, etc.)

      The problem is, the number of jobs that vocational training actually gets you these days are dwindling at an extremely fast rate here, and in many other "western" countries. Yeah, it'd be easy enough to push low ability/performing students into a vocational system, but the vocational system doesn't train them for anything like the modern world, so you're not exactly making them any more useful to society in any way by forcing them into the vocational "system". They'll be even more unemployable, and even more likely to turn to criminal/underground methods of putting food on their tables than they already are, because they'll be officially labled "No Hopers".

      And as far as private schools go, just about anyone who can afford to send their children to a private school already does (save in extremely wealthy areas). Most of the people who don't send their children to private schools won't be able to afford it if their children are forced to leave the public system.

      And as far as emulating the Soviet system of education, yes, it produced a very high quality cream off the top, undoubtably, but looking at the rest of society in most of the post-Soviet countries, I don't think shitting that many kids out of the system without a real place to put them did anything but encourage the rampant corruption and organized crime that are crippling those countries today. Some of the former republics made it out OK. Most have not. I'd think long and hard before emulating anything in such a system.
    • It works like this. Everybody is evaluated in terms of academic performance after then 10th grade. Anybody with a GPA of 3.0 and higher can move on further.

      Ever hear of grade inflation? I'd be willing to bet that you'd find that wealthier areas would tend to have disproportionately high QCAs. Keep a rich person's parent from going onto 10th grade, and daddy calls his buddy on the school board and all of a sudden you [the teacher] don't have a job any more. After all, little Johnny is just too busy with
  • ETS is a nonprofit (Score:3, Informative)

    by selan (234261) on Tuesday April 12, 2005 @04:52PM (#12217230) Journal
    It's hard to make the argument that the test is only a moneymaker when ETS does not actually profit. Which doesn't mean that they don't make money, but still....
    Educational Testing Service is a
    501(c)(3) nonprofit organization [guidestar.org] that provides national and international educational testing, measurement and research.

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