Discussion Papers

Cornelia Fries

Nutzerkompetenz als Determinante der Diffusion multimedialer Dienste
Nr. 181 / Dezember 1997


Technology literacy, meaning the ability to use new media technology and contents, has become a key issue in the public debate about the future knowledge and information society. The consumers' awareness of the benefit of new technologies and applications and their ability to efficiently use them are recognized as crucial factors influencing acceptance and usage. In addition, technology literacy is regarded as a necessary precondition for everybody in order to have access to knowledge and education as well as for social integration. Due to the positive understanding as an improvement of individual abilities and chances, technology literacy has become a widely accepted concept. The broad support by various interest groups contributes to its success. Regarding these objectives, also the specific patterns of media usage behaviour and the demands on the development of adequate educational programs have to be taken into account.

According to the results of media research, a large proportion of the population lacks information and experience regarding new information and communication technologies. Further, the majority tends to passive and entertainment oriented media usage due to habitual usage patterns and motives. At present, new information and communication services are used by a young, male, educated and financially well situated minority. The training and education of technology literacy in all social groups is therefore of great importance for the successful development of market potentials and in order to strengthen the integrative function of interactive media. The development of educational programs involves considerable financial and organisational efforts. It requires the provision of hard- and software to schools and their connection to data networks as well as the qualification of teachers and the development and provision of adequate learning material.

Based on estimations it can be shown, that only about half of the population is reached by existing programs for technology literacy education. If the above mentioned objective to better exploit the economic and social benefits of the information society is to be reached not only for future generations, additional programs have to be developed. In particular, it is necessary to design information and educational offers which are tailored to the specific needs and demands of elderly people, handicapped, women, foreigners and unemployed persons who are not reached by the present programs.

Only German language version available.

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