U of Washington offers free online course in computer technology

March 30, 2004

The National Science Foundation (NSF) granted $500,000 to the UW to develop an online version of its Fluency with Information Technology (FIT) class, an introductory technology course for students without training or experience in computers. The course is offered jointly by the department of Computer Science & Engineering and the Information School.

The new online FIT class is a self-directed, non-credit online course, available free of charge to anyone with an Internet connection. Students learn through web pages, short streaming videos and online assignments – without an instructor.

The course is available now at http://courses.washington.edu/benefit/

The goal of the class is to help people understand how information technology works and how to apply it to the real world, a concept known as fluency with Information Technology.

“The purpose is to upgrade users’ computer knowledge for more personally relevant use of computers, perhaps to improve job or career opportunities or for better citizenship,” said Lawrence Snyder, the chief architect of the course and a UW professor in the department of Computer Science & Engineering.

The UW is planning a fee-version of the course, to be led by an instructor and offer college credit to students who successfully complete it. Both courses will be suitable for all audiences, from K-12 students, to mature learners who need to improve their knowledge of technology.

The courses are based on the work of an NRC taskforce to define the skills and abilities that everyone needs in the Information Age. The task force, led by Snyder, published its findings in the 1999 study, Being Fluent With Information Technology (www.nap.edu/books/030906399X/html/).

Snyder developed the first FIT course from those findings.

For information about the existing FIT courses, visit http://www.cs.washington.edu/education/courses/cse100/CurrentQtr/