Box 2.1 I Use Computers All Day—Am I FIT?

Many Americans use information technology daily in their work, but such contact does not automatically bestow fluency with information technology. Although many jobs—medical records data entry, submitting credit card transactions, building spreadsheets in an accounting department, designing homes using architectural computer-aided design tools, and numerous others—require facility with the tools provided by specific information technology systems, this kind of expertise is often restricted largely to the skills dimension of FITness. Developing FITness as described in this report requires more than sustained contact with information technology, though such experience can nevertheless provide a good point of departure. Common fears about "breaking something" will have been overcome, certain common protocols will have been learned, and unusual situations will have been encountered.

There are highly FIT individuals across America and the world, of course. Through a combination of classes, experience, reading, curiosity, and probably persistence, these individuals not only have acquired skills that make information technology useful in their work and personal lives, but they also have learned a base of concepts and intellectual capabilities sufficient to acquire new knowledge about information technology independently, allowing them to expand their use and to adopt to change. Some are "techies," but many are simply individuals who by various means have gained enough basic knowledge to become independent, lifelong learners. As they learn more, they become more FIT, more adept at applying information technology to personally relevant tasks.

poses. FITness is thus not an "end state" that is independent of domain, but rather develops over a lifetime in particular domains of interest involving particular applications. Aspects of FITness can be developed by using spreadsheets for personal or professional budgeting, desktop publishing tools to create or edit documents or Web pages, search engines and database management tools for locating information on the Web or in large databases, and design tools to create visualizations in various scientific and engineering disciplines.

The wide variety of contexts in which FITness is relevant is matched by the rapid pace at which information technology evolves. Most professionals today require constant upgrading of technological skills as new tools become useful in their work; they learn new word processing programs, new computer-assisted design environments, or new techniques for searching the World Wide Web. Different applications of information



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