Technology & Education
Technology Literacy as a Catalyst for Systemic Change
The K–12 education system
needs to change.
This sentence has been uttered for centuries, and millions of
educators and billions of dollars have attempted to make this change.
John Dewey, Jean Piaget, Maria Montessori, Seymour Papert, Jonathan
Kozel, and many others spent their lives developing proven models of
teaching and learning. National efforts such as “A Nation at Risk”
(United States, 1983), Technology Innovation Challenge Grants (U.S.
Department of Education, 1995), and “No Child Left Behind”
(United States, 2001) are just three examples of recent efforts to
systematically change schools. So why haven’t these efforts
resulted in significant change? Why have we read every year for the
past century that “the K–12 education system is in crisis?”
This article will argue that
three factors are now (2021) different and can result not only in
meaningful educational reform but also in overall systemic change in
systems beyond education. The article then will propose that
technology literacy is the catalyst to take these new factors into
account and create overall global systemic change. This article will
further provide five Suggested Solutions that could be implemented by K–12 schools that can address both technology literacy and systemic
Stein (2019) in his book “Education in a Time Between Worlds”
summarizes what current education system reform should entail and why
it is key to reforming systems beyond education.
preoccupied with ‘fixing’ the existing system of schools do not stop
to ask questions about what schools are for, who they serve, and what
kind of civilization they perpetuate. As I have been discussing, our
civilization is in transition. Across the planet major
transformations are underway — in world system and biosphere — that
will decenter the core, reallocate resources, and recalibrate values,
the economy, and nature itself. This is the task of education today:
to confront the almost unimaginable design challenge of building an
educational system that provides for the re-creation of civilization
during a world system transition. This challenge brings us
face-to-face the importance of education for humanity and the basic
questions that structure education as a human endeavor.”
article is more than reforming the K–12 education system. It is about
changing all systems. We will present a case for how to meet the
challenge identified by Stein to “rebuild an educational system
that provides for the re-creation of civilization during world system
transition.” We will suggest that achieving this rebuild is now
possible for three reasons: urgency, technology, and youth infusion.
We then argue that K–12 technology literacy is a key catalyst for
The article will conclude with five examples of ways schools begin
rebuilding the education system to achieve the above goals.
Technology Literacy, Catalyst, and Systemic Change
Prior to building a case for K–12 technology
literacy as a key
we need to clarify our definitions of the three major terms in this
K–12 Technology Literacy
— What does it mean for a K–12 student to be technology literate?
What should a high school student need to know upon graduation from
high school? To be literate in any subject area is always a moving
target. As time passes more history happens, more literature is
written, more science is discovered, etc. Technology literacy is
perhaps the most fluid of all literacies. The current pandemic has
shown that first graders have had to master distance learning apps
and cloud-based environments, skills that heretofore were not
The International Society for
Technology in Education (ISTE) has addressed technology literacy for
the past 20 years by developing the comprehensive ISTE Standards for
Students (ISTE, 2016). These standards divide technology literacy
into seven key components.