Taking a Closer Look at Information Technology Fluency

I came across this article that I wanted to share with all of you. In LS560 we’ve learned skills relating to Information Technology and have then blogged about how our IT fluency has changed. An important aspect of IT fluency that has been communicated in this class is how the designers of Information Technology need to take into account the perspectives of those who are meant to use the final product.  The premise of  this article is that true “digital literacy” comes about only when you are taking into account the potential repercussions of using your digital skills. When I read this article I found that in many areas I could replace “Digital Literacy” with “Information Technology Fluency” and “Digital Skills” with “Information Technology Skills”.

This semester I have certainly acquired a lot of new IT Skills but Bali’s article has given me a new way to look at how I’ve become fluent. Some of my new fluency can be attributed to ideas Dr. Bonnici has instilled in the course work: design elements, website usability, thinking about how to make our Information Technologies more accessible by those with disabilities, and in the same vein giving thought to who your audience is. But there are some tertiary skills that I have learned along the way that have contributed to becoming fluent.

When creating my website the idea was that it would be something of a career portfolio. I then had to think about what social media platforms I wanted connected to my website, how I wanted to move forward with representing myself on social media platforms and how I’ve represented myself in the past. How many potential employers look at social media when deciding to hire and if they do look at social media what am I showing them about myself that I may not want them to know or what does my social media presence look like outside of the context one has when they know me personally?  I have given this some thought in the past and ultimately chose to be transparent about my personal interests and social activities. But when social networking becomes intertwined with my career I’ve discovered that I’m not keen to have just anything associated with my name.

I’ve also learned a lot during this course through trial and error. For instance, when working on my website I discovered that I don’t really have any software for editing photos or creating design elements. My husband’s laptop has Photoshop but I certainly didn’t have time to learn a program that is so complex and involved, and then also come up with a plan for my website’s visual elements. This led me to download a photo editing program which also downloaded a virus to my computer. Then I had to figure out how to get the virus off of my computer! This experience increased my fluency by helping me understand better how to avoid situations like that in the future. After all that I decided to stick with a simple design for my website and I am pleased with how it came out.

What I’ve learned is that being fluent isn’t just about acquiring IT skills. It’s about being aware of your role in the technology landscape. It’s about knowing the implications of being an active participant in technology: how you’re communicating but also what you’re communicating and how it can effect you and others. Since diving into my graduate studies I have discovered that, at least for me, learning in a course continues well after the course is over. Our professors teach us concepts but true understanding comes once we’ve discovered how they apply to our lives. I am grateful for the changes in my Information Technology Fluency, or Digital Fluency as the Bali article puts it, and I’m excited to see how my IT Fluency develops as I apply the new concepts and skills I’ve learned in this class to my life and career.



What do Jar Jar Binks, Lily Potter, Rose Tyler and I all have in common? Why we’re all ESFJs of course. Well, not exactly. I scored 1% Extrovert, 3% Sensing, and 6% Judging. My highest score was for feeling at a respectable but still not particularly dramatic 38%. What is 1% Extrovert? For instance if you’re competing with another person and you win by 1% you won but…you know, only by 1%. Because of these underwhelming results I was given the disclaimer that I may also exhibit characteristics of 4 other personality types.

In the spirit of getting to the bottom of this whole personality thing I read all of the descriptions in an effort to see which was most me. For having such bland scores ESFJ was the personality type that fit me best. In fact, 5 years ago I took the test and was labeled an ISFJ. I read over that description and it did sound a bit like me though still not to the extent ESFJ does. Perhaps I am slowly becoming more and more Extroverted and in 5 more years maybe my other personality traits will migrate to the opposite end of the spectrum. I will be an ENFJ or an ENFP! I suspect the F aspect is here to stay. For now I say, Team ESFJ for the win! Except for that disaster Jar Jar Binks. I’m not thrilled about him being on team ESFJ…


Making a Little Progress

Slowly but surely I am becoming more IT fluent! Now when I look at HTML it looks a bit more like information rather than completely random characters. Though that was to be expected when taking an Information Technology course. A pleasant surprise was how well this course complements User Centered Information Services and how the thought process behind designing my own website informs how I navigate and think about other websites. When I am navigating a website and find it confusing or easy to use I find myself mentally filing that information away and thinking about what I would do differently or similarly. Also, I think knowing a little about how a website works fundamentally helps me conduct myself a bit more boldly and with slightly more surety when I am interacting with the web.

Another important milestone in my IT fluency is that for the first time ever, I was able to tell my brother something about computers that he didn’t already know. This, of course, is only because he hasn’t used HTML in a long time but it was a completely new experience to sit down with him and tell him about how cascading style sheets and layout divisions work. My moment of triumph was short lived as he then proceeded to figure out in about 30 minutes what I had been trying to figure out all morning. But still! I was able to carry on an intelligent conversation with him about HTML and for that I am proud.




A Bit About Me

My name is Shalis and I hail from the charming city of Huntsville, Alabama. For my undergraduate degree I studied studio art and art history at The University of Alabama in Huntsville, a college that specializes in engineering, and I work in the Extension and Outreach department of the Huntsville Madison County Public Library System. I am as adept as any person who utilizes computers frequently in their daily life. I love my devices: iPhone, iPad and Kindle. I use computers all day at work and assist patrons with them as well. If I don’t know how to use a program I can usually figure it out quickly.


Huntsville is a town that is teeming with engineers and computer scientists.  The techies who populate this area are enough to make the average computer user seem like the biggest of amateurs. While I learn new computer programs and devices as easily as any millennial, being surrounded by computer geniuses my whole life has given me an acute awareness of my lack of knowledge regarding the subject of computers and technology. That having been said, I am excited to acquire new skills in this area and bravely attempt to apply them to my career.

I chose to interview my brother, Jon, who is a software engineer and system’s analyst (one of those aforementioned Huntsville techies) and far more adept with computers than I! He described the company that he works for as, “A contractor that supports the government in the area of IV&V (or Independent Verification and Validation).” Jon’s team tracks and manages the software development process from a government perspective for a software product that is developed by another company. His main tasks consist of programming the software tools used to analyze data, setting up code for a specialized development environment, using scripting tools to format data in order to be able to read it, technical writing, understanding the software engineering process and seeing how it applies to a real world software program, making use of interpersonal skills, and having an understanding of government processes.

I asked Jon how he uses computers in his daily life that might be different from the way the average person does. He pointed out that he thinks a lot of people use their smart phones or tablets to conduct the majority of their business whereas he uses a laptop. Also, he has configured his various computers in a way that makes it easier for him to do what he needs to do with them. An example is in order to access media from all of his computers he has a Linux computer that is a media server that networks all of his devices. Rather than having to go to a specific computer for an album or movie he can access it from any device. He also builds spreadsheets to manage the data of his day to day life (i.e. his finances or exercise routines).

His first encounter with computers was with a Nintendo in 1987 (when he was 7). From this encounter spawned a desire to pursue a career creating video games. As we talked about this Jon rattled off the name and model of the computers we used to play Oregon Trail on in elementary school and then the name and model of the first computer my mother purchased for us in the 90’s. I certainly couldn’t have recalled that information and likely never absorbed it in the first place.

I asked Jon if he thought he had a good understanding of how a computer works. He said he does (and proceeded to explain to me how they work, at which point my eyes glazed over and I zoned out) but not as thoroughly as a mechanical engineer would.