Posts tagged ” InfoLiteracy

“Digital Natives” Comments on IT in Kazakhstan

The following 10 comments are from my Academic Reading and Writing students after they heard me read my article about “Kazakhstan’s Orality vs. InfoLiteracy” off the screen.  (Read yesterday blog entry to find out what they read and responded to.)


A.K. Not only children and teenagers should learn computer skills as our President said but I think adults should learn computer literacy, because they teach us (children), but if they don’t know, how will the new generation develop in this sphere?  Nowadays presentations, work and all spheres of our life are connected with computers; Internet is very popular.  Lots of people use Internet for knowing news about the world, different countries and so on.  And information technologies are deeply connected with Internet, meaning computer literacy.


R.S. I believe that the division mentioned in the article is present.  From my own experience I can tell when speaking about digital technology with my parents is rather difficult because they basically don’t understand a word of my sayings.  Sometimes it makes me annoyed to explain the same things about how to use this and that over and over again for hundred times.  I wonder what will be in the future.  Will we, digital natives, be digital immigrants for our kids as the progress goes on and on and new inventions are still being made?


Z.S. We have to be surrounded by Information Technology in our globalized economy.  We must be the digital native, we must speak digital language.  It would be easier to communicate and get every information we want and need.  By using IT, we can get useful information to be beneficial in all situations.  As we know, all the job vacancies need us to be “Digital Natives.”  If we are, we’ll get more payment, we’ll earn more money.


A.A. Today is century of Information Technology (IT) and we can study with the help of IT.  I think, from the five kind of literacies, the best one is digital information literacy and it is most popular today.  All books we can find on Internet in digital format, all documents converted to digital format.  Education – we use a lot of digital technologies.  We have a lot of advantages of this.  We can economize our time by making wonderful presentations (Powerpoint).  Use Internet to find information and use electronic libraries to find electronic articles and books.  All of this increases our productivity and quality of education.


N.P. Digital inequality in Kazakhstani societies is one of the important problems for older generation.  It’s not only a problem for the global economy, but also a problem of the local society.  The seriousness of this problem mostly is reflected in the teacher-student relations.  For instance, even at our university, the most modernized university in KZ, there are some difficulties among the teachers who are above 50 years old.  Because they are digital immigrants in IT, on the contrary, students are born with “computers in hands.”


Y.K. IT is a part of our life, we cannot live without it.  I totally support that idea about “Digital Natives and “Digital Immigrants.”  Our president sees that Kazakhstan, having almost all culture is oral tradition, has difficulties with transferring to the “Digital World.”


D.D. Nowadays information literacy is very important in everyday life.  We face with digital technologies everywhere, when we go to the shop, there are cashier machines and we should know how does it work, in order not to be in delusion.  Our mobile phones, we can’t live without them, it became a part of our life.  Internet is another thing, where we should know Digital literacy.  For example, my Mom, she has her own small business, but before it, she didn’t know at all how to even turn on the computer, we presented her a mobile phone and it took her a lot of time to teach herself how to use it.  It is an example about digital natives and digital immigrants.  For her generation, it is strange, something new about these things.


A.Y. On the one hand, it is useful to master computer programs, Internet, even games for children.  But on the other hand, virtual life will become inevitable part of peoples’ lives and it can replace the real friends, parents and teachers.  A person who will use only computer and life with the life of this thing, just can be lost in this technological world.  And his life will be fulfilled only by programs and unreal games.  In my opinion, using computers, people shouldn’t forget about personal, real life and balance these two things.


Z.B. I think that our country is developing like many others in Europe and we have to use new innovations and new technologies because it is our future.  Also, I am agree that we are just developing country and our President is very aware of surrounding globalized economy.  Nowadays, we have some problems with teaching, not all the teachers want to use computers or have computer skills.  That is why first of all we have to change teaching strategies in schools because everything begins from school.  For example, include computers classes, three language classes with high qualified teachers.  Because nowadays more and more young children don’t know their native language.  It is a great problem.  And we have to know how to use new technologies, like computers in order to find a good job and to be in the same level as European countries.


A.K. Nowadays a lot of people have problems with new technology, and most of them are older people, for example, my mother.  And I think our schools should give all this technological knowledge because technology is the future and WE ARE THE FUTURE!

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Computer “illiteracy” is NOT about grammar!!!

Lately the vocabulary list to my teacher’s reportoire has been “Keywords” and “research databases.”  For years I’ve been instructing first year composition students on the virtues of “thesis statements” and “working bibliographies.”  One of the students whose thesis statements I checked yesterday, while conducting classes in the library’s Computer Lab, was writing on the topic of “computer illiteracy.”  She had inserted in her thesis statement, without having done any exploratory searches on EBSCOhost, ProQuest or J-Stor about how grammar is not being used correctly while using the computer.  Oh, does she have a LOT to learn when it comes to what real “illiteracy” is about.  Essentially, it is not about grammar but about properly using the computer tools to GET to the original journal sources.  “InfoLiteracy” is all about knowing how to access the exact information that you need from scholarly, peer-reviewed journals.  (Caveat:  I don’t agree with all journals and their thrust but at least there is an author’s name next to the article titles, whereas you won’t often find that on the Internet by doing a simple Google search.)

I’m having an American friend of mine give a talk next week titled “Desparate for Relevant Articles in Kazakhstan!” He did beta testing for J-Stor years ago since he knew he needed to access information for his doctoral program while living in Central Asia.  He has lived in Kazakhstan for 12 years and knows the Kazakh language.  He is deeply invested in the life here and knows painfully well that it is too difficult to bring books or journals to the “ends of the earth.”  The next best thing is to read information that others have authored on any given topic on your computer.  This means that it has nothing to do with grammar and everything to do with spelling the keywords correctly while reading material so you can get better ideas for even better, informed searches. 

Obviously the teaching methodology of post-Soviet teachers still embraces grammar and translation based instruction when teaching English. However, when teaching computer skills, it is all about taking risks while making mistakes on the computer.  You learn by doing.  So too with being literate in English, it should mean being able to read and write.  That is only accomplished by DOING!  Learning to talk means taking risks and sorting out the grammar but TALK!!!

Therefore, I’m excited to see the eyes of many Kazakhstani students opened up to the world beyond their borders of Kazakhstan and to witness that they are eager to learn.  Once they see that they can be “literate” with accessing information from the research databases, I’m hoping they will be literate enough in English to write about their wonderful country so that others from the outside will know what a great land this really is!!!

So, to the Kazakh teachers who remain “computer illiterate,” they do so to the detriment of their students who are like sponges and want to learn.  These same teachers are usually the same ones who turn a blind eye to plagiarism.  This disease will dissipate if they get their young charges turned on to the power of using strong “keywords” and finding topics they are passionate to read about and then write on as it relates to Kazakhstan.  A dearth of information about Kazakhstan prevails because noone is writing about it.  Those best to write in English about this country are Kazakhstanis who know Kazakh AND English!!!

Some of the dissenters who are against the forces of “InfoLiteracy” would have held the “Industrial Revolution” at arms length if they lived back in those times.  Computer literacy is NOT about grammar but about knowing how to access key information!!!  InfoLiteracy will not be going away unless someone pulls the plug on all our computers world wide. 8)

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