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Would You Pass the Information Literacy Test?

timothy posted more than 9 years ago | from the big-stupid dept.

Education 356

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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Flash, popups, cookies (5, Informative)

alanw (1822) | more than 9 years ago | (#12210192)

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.

Congratulations (5, Funny)

The New Andy (873493) | more than 9 years ago | (#12210200)

You passed.

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

Re:Congratulations (4, Insightful)

smchris (464899) | more than 9 years ago | (#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.

Re:Congratulations (1)

reboot246 (623534) | more than 9 years ago | (#12210533)

Amen, brother!

Why, oh why, do they do that?

Re:Flash, popups, cookies (1)

Nirvelli (851945) | more than 9 years ago | (#12210230)

In other words, Use Firefox.

Re:Flash, popups, cookies (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12210347)

In other words, Use Firefox.

He is not gay.

Re:Flash, popups, cookies (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12210486)

Why - does using Firefox mean you can somehow get the site working despite having turned off the annoyances the OP mentioned?

-1, poor reading comprehension.

Havent been taught how to install this flash thing (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12210418)

Have I passed?

SAT, ICT and Smoke Tests (-1, Flamebait)

amigoro (761348) | more than 9 years ago | (#12210194)

SAT, ICT and Smoke Tests [mithuro.com] The idea that ETS can measure aptitude through a series of multiple choice questions or a five paragraph essay is defies belief.

Let's take the example of the SAT.

SAT has been called racist, sexist and classist for as long as today's test takers have been alive. Universities that require the test open themselves to charges of racism; Universities that don't are accused of reverse discrimination.

Carl Brigham, a bona-fide racist designed the SAT in 1925. Brigham's book A Study of American Intelligence claimed tests like the one he would design proved the superiority of "nordic stock."

While the racism issues linger, it's the wider socioeconomic issue that has preoccupied the tests' makers at the Educational Testing Service (ETS). The conventional wisdom is that the test is just another leg up for rich kids who can shell out $1000 for a test prep course. To some, the likes of Kaplan and Princeton Review have turned good SAT scores into a commodity, another saleable ticket into America's Ivy League aristocracy.

Kaplan proved beyond a doubt that the test can be taught; his successors put the price of a class out of reach. A good SAT score might mean you're smart, or it might mean you've got pushy parents with a lot of cash. To try to resurrect some notion that the SAT is actually a yardstick of academic potential, ETS has changed up the test, replacing the analogies with an essay and jacking up the total score from 1600 to 2400.

Re:SAT, ICT and Smoke Tests (5, Interesting)

Guppy06 (410832) | more than 9 years ago | (#12210261)

"Carl Brigham, a bona-fide racist designed the SAT in 1925. "

Who wasn't racist in 1925? That was one of those wonderful interbellum years where the Klan hit its high water mark and Congress worked hard to decide who could immigrate and who could not (note that "Nordic" was specified; couldn't let those filthy Slavs, Italians or Iberians in, no matter what their skin color was).

It'd be pretty damned strange for someone doing anything in 1925 to not share those views. Why do you think Hitler was so popular in the US in the 1930's?

Hitler's Popularity (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12210279)

Why do you think Hitler was so popular in the US in the 1930's?

Because he was a Democrat?

Re:SAT, ICT and Smoke Tests (0, Offtopic)

Adrilla (830520) | more than 9 years ago | (#12210320)

So basically your counter argument is "Who wasn't racist in 1925?" That makes no sense, it's 80 years later and we're just now trying to fix it?

I hate to sound like your mom but, "If all of your friends jumped off a bridge...."

Re:SAT, ICT and Smoke Tests (1)

Guppy06 (410832) | more than 9 years ago | (#12210439)

No, but it's flawed to pin it solely on the author and not on the times. Heck, from that one line it's impossible to tell whether he truly believed that or if he was just toeing the line to get his test published.

Re:SAT, ICT and Smoke Tests (5, Funny)

JustOK (667959) | more than 9 years ago | (#12210332)

I can state absolutely that I was not a racist in 1925.

Re:SAT, ICT and Smoke Tests (1)

shoma-san (739914) | more than 9 years ago | (#12210341)

Can we have one day in this world where we don't discuss Hitler and his Nazi's. Every time I turn around and browse the internet, or change channels on the TV, I see Nazi this, Hitler that. pffhhhh...

Re:SAT, ICT and Smoke Tests (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12210293)

It is hate filled people like you who are the problem.
_A Study of American Intelligence_ was considered the standard scientific thinking of the day when it was written. Carl Brigham broke with the then modern scientists 5 years after the book was written. He went out and specificly denouned the book and its ideas. He then went one to be one of the champions of denouncing eugenics.
Another thing about Brigham, he at least did not go around coping faulty work done by others [reason.com] and claim it as thier own.

Re:SAT, ICT and Smoke Tests (1)

Flywheels of Fire (836557) | more than 9 years ago | (#12210362)

Too bad the moderators have modded the parent down as off-topic. ETS have not learnt the losson from SAT. Instead of trying to fix the problem, they come up with a new test.

Even more shockingly, computerized grading for essay tests is now being tested on several state tests. Given the sheer number of SAT tests taken every year, It wouldn't surprise me to find the development of this technology is what is spurring ETS to add the essay now, since I KNOW it's been considered since the late 1980's (I was part of the norming group for a new trial SAT, which included an essay-so obviously they were considering it at that time, if not earlier.)

Eh? (-1, Troll)

kristopher (723047) | more than 9 years ago | (#12210197)

Uhh know.

about as much worth.... (0, Offtopic)

rshoger (766169) | more than 9 years ago | (#12210201)

about as much worth as our university system this SAT racket is.

in aus (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#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 (2, Interesting)

Caff (676847) | more than 9 years ago | (#12210258)

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.

Re:in aus (1)

Indy Media Watch (823624) | more than 9 years ago | (#12210273)

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 (2, Interesting)

Caff (676847) | more than 9 years ago | (#12210304)

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 students.

Re:in aus (4, Interesting)

Adrilla (830520) | more than 9 years ago | (#12210365)

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.

"Are such tasks tied to technology" (5, Interesting)

Dancin_Santa (265275) | more than 9 years ago | (#12210212)

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.

Re:"Are such tasks tied to technology" (5, Insightful)

onion2k (203094) | more than 9 years ago | (#12210248)

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..

Re:"Are such tasks tied to technology" (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12210255)

I think you've completely missed the point of the grandparent post and have unwittingly found yourself in the group of friendless subterranean code oozers that it was talking about.

Re:"Are such tasks tied to technology" (2, Funny)

digitalchinky (650880) | more than 9 years ago | (#12210478)

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.

AOLer (0, Troll)

alphapartic1e (260735) | more than 9 years ago | (#12210506)

The unqualifiable answer to that question is an emPHATic...

I agree with the PHAT part. You're FAT. n00b.

Sincerely,
You technically-inclined AOL web colleague

Re:"Are such tasks tied to technology" (1)

Feanturi (99866) | more than 9 years ago | (#12210526)

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 'instantly' it would go to a black screen with Windows XP in the corner, no BIOS. That's because the computer had been on the whole time, she was turning the monitor on and off, and was seeing the default XP screen saver. Once we sorted that out she asked me where she was supposed to put in her password, and being that my company has nothing to do with hers other than we sold them the computers, I had to tell her to ask someone in her office for that, since she was obviously already signed into the computer and must be wondering about a password for some work-related software, not sure why she thought I would know that. And she's getting paid to sit in front of that thing.

Would I? (0, Redundant)

kristopher (723047) | more than 9 years ago | (#12210214)

Would I pass the infoformation literacy test? Is this a trick ququestion like what I would do for a Klondike Bar? Okay.. Seriously, what exactly does literacy mean?

Re:Would I? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12210335)

Some group in the city I live in recently decided to try to measure the "computer literacy" of its residents. Being young enough to have had typing in elementary school (though at that point I was already writing toy programs at home) and a computer literacy class in middle school (which was really BASIC on an Apple //e) and given that I continue to work with computers for fun and profit, I figure I'd do okay. Well, I did, but I can see how someone could get a poor score while really being very literate. Many of the questions were specific to Windows XP with the default theme without mentioning Windows anywhere. Other questions were specific to Microsoft Word (including the one question I got wrong asking which menu an item for setting some feature I've never used is under) again, without mentioning Word, and there were other questions where the question itself was wrong.

Those issues aside, the test was only available through a Web site, so if you don't know how to open a Web browser and type in the URL, you can't take the test. Clearly, the test is not really designed to measure the computer literacy of city residents. Rather, the test was designed to make city residents look computer literate. Many of us are. You can go into a coffee shop and see cute girls hacking code, business people checking email and baseball scores over the public WiFi, and middle aged housewives talking about how they tell their grown kids how to avoid phishing (they don't say phishing). Of course, you would never know any of that from the test for our city.

I doubt the information literacy test is really any better. Of course, questions that are specific to one operating system or one program aren't really all that useful. Things that don't change all that often (like how to use UNIX core utilities in a shell) tend to be the things that most users don't need or want to know whereas the systems and programs that people do tend to use (like Windows or an email program) have changed a lot over the past decade. Seach engines? Okay, so you use Google now, but how many search engines have been your standby search site over the years? And now, of course, the big thing is integrating search into applications and who knows where this is all going in the future? Testing the tools we use now isn't that useful. I suppose the best way to test computer/information literacy would be to put the test subject in a computing environment they are not familiar with and asking them to accomplish some simple task any way they'd like to. Possible solutions to a problem might be playing with the system until it becomes minimally familiar and then do the task, locating and reading the documentation to discover how the task might be accomplished before attempting it, or installing a familiar environment in place of the unfamiliar one and accomplishing the task.

Sample Question (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#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

Re:Sample Question (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12210232)

E!

Mod parent up! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12210260)

Sorry, couldn't resist.

Re:Sample Question (1)

GNUALMAFUERTE (697061) | more than 9 years ago | (#12210268)

Single smarter and funniest joke i have seen here in a long long time. Thanx, you made my day.

Re:Sample Question (1)

Viceice (462967) | more than 9 years ago | (#12210274)

None of the above.

Had this been an authenthic and current Slashdot poll, you would instead gripe about the lack of a CowboyNeal option.

Re:Sample Question (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12210479)

Are you blind?

Re:Sample Question (3, Funny)

the_unknown_soldier (675161) | more than 9 years ago | (#12210295)

B) Choose an obviously ridiculous option
If you do this then you should obviously vote D
C) Do not answer, and complain that your preferred option was unavailable.

Who would vote for this! Bit hypocritical? (same applied for D

So you can only technically answer A and E.

hence,
COWBOYNEAL

Re:Sample Question (2, Funny)

iapetus (24050) | more than 9 years ago | (#12210328)

But I do have genuine moral, philosophical opposition to the poll, you insensitive clod.

Re:Sample Question (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12210303)

F) Breasts!

Insensitive clod! (2, Funny)

tqft (619476) | more than 9 years ago | (#12210330)

I am male /.er.

Please don't tease the trolls.

Re:Sample Question (1, Redundant)

octal666 (668007) | more than 9 years ago | (#12210369)

CowboyNeal

Re:Sample Question (2, Funny)

chris_eineke (634570) | more than 9 years ago | (#12210451)

F) ???
G) Boobies!

Heh. (0)

Patrick Mannion (782290) | more than 9 years ago | (#12210220)

I bet I could pass this even at my age.

A test?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12210224)

Would you pass...

Nope!

wrong test (4, Funny)

iamthemoog (410374) | more than 9 years ago | (#12210228)

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?

Re:wrong test (5, Insightful)

Viceice (462967) | more than 9 years ago | (#12210281)

"multiple streams of information"


I think you misspelled 'advertisements'

Re:wrong test (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12210523)

Whoosh!

Anyway, "I think you misspelled..." stopped being cute several thousand "I think you misspelleds..." ago.

Huh? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12210234)

Sowie! Wat /. newz tingy say?
I cant reed!!!

tasks not technology (5, Insightful)

godless dave (844089) | more than 9 years ago | (#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.

Re:tasks not technology (1)

l3v1 (787564) | more than 9 years ago | (#12210422)

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 :]

It's not that simple (2, Insightful)

fireboy1919 (257783) | more than 9 years ago | (#12210448)

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 functionality than just any old database engine.

Re:tasks not technology (3, Funny)

El_Muerte_TDS (592157) | more than 9 years ago | (#12210468)

someone who knows how to code pages in a text editor

What? there's an other way? Now you tell me.

When asked such a question, ask one back (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12210503)

If an interviewer asks you a question like, "What is your experience with X?", just reply, "You're not an engineer are you? And you've never written a line of code in your life, right?"

Because no half-decent engineer would ever ask a question like that. That's the mark of a gatekeeper/gargoyle HR rep. Or a really crappy engineer you don't want to work with.

I took this during trial period at my college (5, Interesting)

Devistater (593822) | more than 9 years ago | (#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.

Re:I took this during trial period at my college (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12210395)

So I got paid $50 for a couple hours hehehe.
Nice, let me know when you've become a millionaire at that hourly rate.

Honestly. (5, Insightful)

ggvaidya (747058) | more than 9 years ago | (#12210270)

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? (2, Insightful)

Nursie (632944) | more than 9 years ago | (#12210370)

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? (2, Insightful)

Quill345 (769162) | more than 9 years ago | (#12210507)

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!)

"Nobody has the right to make money." (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12210513)

Nobody has the right to make money.

Not even George Lucas? Care to explain Jar Jar et al, then?

Wow (5, Interesting)

TrappedByMyself (861094) | more than 9 years ago | (#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 (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12210290)

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 (3, Funny)

Some Bitch (645438) | more than 9 years ago | (#12210360)

I can see how I did so awful in college

So can we ;)

Re:Wow (1)

tverbeek (457094) | more than 9 years ago | (#12210385)

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.

Oooh an other standardized test. (4, Insightful)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 9 years ago | (#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.

Re:Oooh an other standardized test. (1)

wingsofchai (817999) | more than 9 years ago | (#12210368)

But without testing how will our wonderful hard-working managers know if they should hire us? Are you suggesting that they learn enough about technology to actually be able to watch and determine for themselves about potential employees knowledge of technology??? That's preposterous! How would they have enough time for golf or useless meetings?!

Re:Oooh an other standardized test. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12210379)

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 information handling skills into a single number. While this remains a gross simplification of things, it isn't as egregious a simplification as your post.

Re:Oooh an other standardized test. (1)

CrackedButter (646746) | more than 9 years ago | (#12210382)

You're right, we should do a test for this!

Re:Oooh an other standardized test. (1)

jazman (9111) | more than 9 years ago | (#12210407)

> 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.

Re:Oooh an other standardized test. (4, Funny)

fishbot (301821) | more than 9 years ago | (#12210483)

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!

Computer Literacy (5, Insightful)

SteveTheRed (244567) | more than 9 years ago | (#12210294)

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.

Re:Computer Literacy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12210535)

And she is computer-illiterate, wouldn't you agree?

Practice (5, Interesting)

RocketRainbow (750071) | more than 9 years ago | (#12210302)

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 (4, Insightful)

slavemowgli (585321) | more than 9 years ago | (#12210375)

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 (2, Interesting)

bkr1_2k (237627) | more than 9 years ago | (#12210537)

"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 says a lot about the way I think versus the way the people who constantly need help think. I've taught people how to use man and help pages, discussion groups on the web, and plenty of other resources for fixing their own problems, but invariably I get the call anyway.

Now, it's what I do for a living, so I don't mind so much.

Tied to technology? (5, Insightful)

TheWormThatFlies (788009) | more than 9 years ago | (#12210310)

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.

ETS = hole in the head (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12210311)

What a pile of wank! ETS are a shower of money grabbin' whores. Any excuse to extract more money out of you. And the U.S. colleges will, of course, make this shit a requirement.

Oh for goodness sake - (0, Redundant)

Linker3000 (626634) | more than 9 years ago | (#12210333)

I am an IT Guru - I pretty much simultaneously read slashdot, cycle between 3 servers and my desktop machine with a 4-port KVM, check my email, deal with phone and voicemail enquiries, eat my lunch, check my mobile for messages, enter info in the case management system, monitor 26 servers with Nagios, and manage the company Web sites and Intranet. Sometimes I'll put on headphones and listen to music while debugging as it helps me concentrate (yeah, I know..).

We don't need no stinkin' tests!

Sheesh!

Re:Oh for goodness sake - (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12210403)

So, Mr. Guru, sir - How long have you suffered from SPS?

Re:Oh for goodness sake - (1)

Linker3000 (626634) | more than 9 years ago | (#12210411)

You talking to us?

Re:Oh for goodness sake - (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12210446)

I am an IT Guru

No, you're maintenance personnel.

Guru? My ass (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12210536)

Gurus don't sit on their ass monitoring systems. Wake up dude, you're maintenance. You're the janitor of the IT industry.

Gurus get calls like this late Saturday afternoon, "Where are you Monday morning? Nevermind. We need you in Chicago at 8AM."

Paper tests are worthless (2, Interesting)

kdougherty (772195) | more than 9 years ago | (#12210339)

Just like most certification exams... Just because you can do it on paper, doesn't mean jack when it comes to "real-world" applications. Another student in my class passed his CCNA, but you should've seen him trying to configure the 2500. It was a joke! Experience in the best teacher, I'd like to see more "hands on" testing.

Is this a poll? (3, Insightful)

octal666 (668007) | more than 9 years ago | (#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.

placement of students in appropriate classes (4, Insightful)

tverbeek (457094) | more than 9 years ago | (#12210359)

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.

Aonhter tset?! (2, Funny)

O-SUSHi (820452) | more than 9 years ago | (#12210399)

I alerady fialde teh litarecy tset yuo insenistvie cold!

Probably the /. demographic... (3, Insightful)

smchris (464899) | more than 9 years ago | (#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.

This list is ... (0, Redundant)

William Robinson (875390) | more than 9 years ago | (#12210412)

certainly missing ability to find porn sites, password crackers, yahoo booters, free downloads, free mp3 files, free gifts on clicks, funny pictures ;-)

April 1 (2, Funny)

JeyKottalam (461624) | more than 9 years ago | (#12210420)

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? (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#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?

How long before we see 'Sale on at Walmart' (0, Offtopic)

NoMercy (105420) | more than 9 years ago | (#12210431)

It's really getting obscene... and who the hell gives a damn that there's a new test available, I hoped it was some comic 'how good are you on a computer test' as that would add more value to my day than knowing that some company is trying to make money out of selling tests to employers and educational establishments.

A better test question, only two choices: (0, Offtopic)

syntap (242090) | more than 9 years ago | (#12210444)

Do you install

a) Slackware, or
b) Ubuntu

My best sig is this one.

GMAT is not ETS (2, Informative)

krunk4ever (856261) | more than 9 years ago | (#12210465)

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] .

Re:GMAT is not ETS (2, Informative)

krunk4ever (856261) | more than 9 years ago | (#12210488)

i guess i was wrong, GMAC and ETS works together for the GMAT.

source: http://www.mba.com/mba/CustomerService/ [mba.com]
GMAC® works with Educational Testing Service® (ETS®) in the administration of the GMAT.

but it sounds like GMAC makes the test, while ETS adminsiters it since they have testing locations all over the world.

when did ETS leave the education scene? (1)

krunk4ever (856261) | more than 9 years ago | (#12210481)

it seems that all tests that the ETS creates, (ie, SAT, AP, GRE, etc), it's always been catered toward education. however, this new "Information and Communication literacy assessment" seems to be catered toward careers, sort of like the certificate to prove you can use MS Word.

can you really see a college application asking what your "Information and Communication literacy assessment" score is given what it supposedly tells the college?

Well... (0)

flajann (658201) | more than 9 years ago | (#12210494)

You don't need a test -- a good test of whether you can handle the communications and internet technologies is quite simple:

Are you

  1. Employed?
  2. Collecting Welfare Checks?

Next on Slashdot... (4, Funny)

Robotron23 (832528) | more than 9 years ago | (#12210527)

Do YOU qualify for a free iPod?

I think I've taken this before... (1, Troll)

Sialagogue (246874) | more than 9 years ago | (#12210534)


"...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...

"

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