Information Technology is a scientific, technological and engineerning discipline and management technique used in handing the information, it‘s application and association with social, economical and cultural matters. (UNSECO)Information technology is a systemic study of artifacts that can be used to give form to facts inorder to provide meaning for decision making, and artifacts that can be used for organization, processing, communication and application of information. (Darnton and Giacoletto)ICT (information and communications technology - or technologies) is an umbrella term that includes any communication device or application, encompassing: radio, television, cellular phones, computer and network hardware and software, satellite systems and so on, as well as the various services and applications associated with them, such as videoconferencing and distance learning. ICTs are often spoken of in a particular context, such as ICTs in education, health care, or libraries. The term is somewhat more common outside of the United States.
According to the European Commission, the importance of ICTs lies less in the technology itself than in its ability to create greater access to information and communication in underserved populations. Many countries around the world have established organizations for the promotion of ICTs, because it is feared that unless less technologically advanced areas have a chance to catch up, the increasing technological advances in developed nations will only serve to exacerbate the already-existing economic gap between technological "have" and "have not" areas. Internationally, the United Nations actively promotes ICTs for Development (ICT4D ) as a means of bridging the digital divide.Access from : http://searchcio-midmarket.techtarget.com/definition/ICT
B. Characteristics of Information Technology :Information Technology has the following Characteristics :
1. Acquistion, Storage, manipulation, management, transmission or reception of data or information.
2. Real time access to information.
3. Easy availability of updated data
4. Connecting Geographically dispersed region
5. Wider range of communication media
Access from: http://www.mu.ac.in/myweb_test/ma%20edu/ICT%20-%20Edu..pdf
C. The Qualities of Good Information
The general characteristics of information should suggest the qualities of good information. The basic qualities of good information are:
1. Relevance: Information must be relevant to the purpose for which the manager wants to use it. In practice too many reports fail to 'keep to the point' and contain purposeless, irritating paragraphs which only serve to vex the manager’s reading time.
2. Completeness: An information user should have all the information he needs to do his job properly. If he does not have a complete picture of the situation, he might make bad decisions.
3. Accuracy: Information should be accurate because using incorrect information could have serious and damaging consequences. However, information should only be accurate enough for its purposes and there is no need to go into unnecessary details for pointless accuracy.
4. Clarity: Information must be clear to the user. If the user does not understand it properly, he cannot use it properly. Lack of clarity is one of the causes of breakdown in communication which is referred to in information system theory as 'noise'. Noise is therefore caused by incompleteness, irrelevance, excessive volumes of information and lack of clarity.
5. Confidence in the Information Received: Information should be accurate and the person to whom it is communicated should also be confident that it is accurate. The quality of communication is determined by the confidence that key people throughout an organization have in each other's ability. Communication between managers or between managers and employees can help to increase their confidence and thereby improve performance. A manager who is impressed by someone he meets and talks to will put his confidence in that person, and work with him more readily. Simple greeting at first meeting is a means of promoting confidence.
6. Communication to the right person: Within an organization, individuals are given the authority to do certain tasks, and they must be given the information they need to do them.
7. Volume of information: There are physical and mental limitations to what a person can read, absorb and understand properly before taking action. An enormous mountain of information, even if it is relevant cannot be handled. Reports to management must therefore be clear and concise.
8. Timing of Information: Information which is not available until after a decision is made will be useful only for comparisons and longer term control, and may serve no purpose even then. The time value of information may be gauged by the latest event (time) which the information covers; and the comparison and control action for which it will be used. Delays in communicating information might make the information useless or it might delay any decisions or action by the information user.Access from: http://www.nou.edu.ng/noun/NOUN_OCL/pdf/pdf2/MBA%20722%20MAIN.pdf
D. The Information Processing Cycle
The four basic information processing activities – input, processing, output, and storage – typically are performed in logical sequence. Data originate as source documents and are prepared for input. After being input, the data undergo the actual processing steps. The resulting information then is communicated to users or retained for later processing and output.
Access from : http://www.nou.edu.ng/noun/NOUN_OCL/pdf/pdf2/MBA%20722%20MAIN.pdf
The figure shows the process of information processing cycle
· Greater efficiency throughout the school.
· Communication channels are increased through email, discussion groups and chat rooms
· Regular use of ICT across different curriculum subjects can have a beneficial motivational influence on students’ learning.
Benefits for teachers
· ICT facilitates sharing of resources, expertise and advice
· Greater flexibility in when and where tasks are carried out
· Gains in ICT literacy skills, confidence and enthusiasm.
· Easier planning and preparation of lessons and designing materials
· Access to up-to-date pupil and school data, any time and anywhere.
· Enhancement of professional image projected to colleagues.
· Students are generally more ‘on task’ and express more positive feelings when they use computers than when they are given other tasks to do.
· Computer use during lessons motivated students to continue using learning outside school hours.
Benefits for students
· Higher quality lessons through greater collaboration between teachers in planning and preparing resources
· More focused teaching, tailored to students’ strengths and weaknesses, through better analysis of attainment data
· Improved pastoral care and behaviour management through better tracking of students
· Gains in understanding and analytical skills, including improvements in reading Comprehension.
· Development of writing skills (including spelling, grammar, punctuation, editing and re-drafting), also fluency, originality and elaboration.
· Encouragement of independent and active learning, and self-responsibility for learning.
· Flexibility of ‘anytime, anywhere’ access (Jacobsen and Kremer, 2000)
· Development of higher level learning styles.
· Students who used educational technology in school felt more successful in school, were more motivated to learn and have increased self-confidence and self-esteem
· Students found learning in a technology-enhanced setting more stimulating and student-centred than in a traditional classroom
· Broadband technology supports the reliable and uninterrupted downloading of web-hosted educational multimedia resources
· Opportunities to address their work to an external audience
· Opportunities to collaborate on assignments with people outside or inside school
Benefits for parents
· Easier communication with teachers
· Higher quality student reports – more legible, more detailed, better presented
· Greater access to more accurate attendance and attainment information
· Increased involvement in education for parents and, in some cases, improved self-esteem
· Increased knowledge of children’s learning and capabilities, owing to increase in learning activity being situated in the home
· Parents are more likely to be engaged in the school community
· You will see that ICT can have a positive impact across a very wide range of aspects of school life.
F. Disadvantages of ICT
One of the major barriers for the cause of ICT not reaching its full potential in the foundation stage is teacher’s attitude. According to Hara (2004), within the early years education attitudes towards ICT can vary considerably. Some see it as a potential tool to aid learning whereas others seem to disagree with the use of technology in early year settings. Blatchford and Whitebread (2003:16), suggests that the use of ICT in the foundation stage is “unhealthy and hinders learning”. Other early years educators who are opposed to offering ICT experiences within the educational settings take a less extreme view than this and suggest that ICT is fine, but there are other more vital experiences that young children will benefit from, (Blatchford and Whitebread, 2003). In theory some people may have the opinion that the teachers who had not experienced ICT throughout their learning tend to have a negative attitude towards it, as they may lack the training in that area of the curriculum.Another important drawback to using ICT in schools is the fact that computers are expensive. According to the IT learning exchange (2001), in most schools ICT will be the single largest curriculum budget cost. This may be seen as a good thing but on the other hand there will be little money left over for other significant costs.
Truly we are in the information age in which all human activities are driven by the efficiency in the utilization of information. All advances in technologies are geared towards making information readily available. Prior to the entrance of modern day technologies, man for the conversion of raw data into useable information had developed standard formats. All advances in the processing of information build upon the building blocks. Therefore, a thorough understanding of the concept of information goes a long way in making you appreciate information and communication technology.
By: Kuan Sheue Jiun (Sheuejiun Kuan)