Does Technology Benefit Young Children’s Education?

As parents, all of us have fought the battle with our kids as they are absorbed into a video game or movie on an iPad, tablet or smartphone. We’ve had a better chance of getting the attention of Tom Cruise walking the red carpet than our kids.

Today, it’s common for two-year-olds to be using iPads, elementary schoolers hooked up to video games, and we all suffer (or live with) the challenge of prying your middle-schooler away from the computer long enough to eat a decent meal…

Technology is everywhere and its draw on kids is obvious, but is technology helping our kids learn?
Technology is becoming more social, adaptive, and customized, and as a result, it can be a fantastic teaching tool. That stated, as parents, we need to establish boundaries.

Today, software is connecting kids to online learning communities, tracking kids’ progress through lessons and games, and customizing each students’ experience.

By the time your child is in elementary school, they will probably well-versed in technology.

Learning with Technology at School
Schools are investing more and more in technology. Whether your child’s class uses an interactive Smartboard, laptops, or another device, here are three ways to make sure that technology is used effectively.

Young children love playing with technology, from iPads to digital cameras. What do early childhood practitioners – and parents, too – need to think about before handing kids these gadgets?

Let’s start at the beginning: what is technology in early childhood?
Technology can be as simple as a camera, audio recorder, music player, TV, DVD player, or more recent technology like iPads, tablets, and smartphones used in child care centers, classrooms, or at home.

More than once, I’ve had teachers tell me, “I don’t do technology.” I ask them if they’ve ever taken a digital photo of their students, played a record, tape, or DVD, or give kids headphones to listen to a story.

Teachers have always used technology. The difference is that now teachers are using really powerful tools like iPads and iPhones in their personal and professional lives.

Technology is just a tool.
It shouldn’t be used in classrooms or child care centers because it’s cool, but because teachers can do activities that support the healthy development of children.

Teachers are using digital cameras – a less flashy technology than iPads – in really creative ways to engage children in learning. That may be all they need.

At the same time, teachers need to be able to integrate technology into the classroom or child care center as a social justice matter.

We can’t assume that all children have technology at home.

A lack of exposure could widen the digital divide – that is, the gap between those with and without access to digital technology – and limit some children’s school readiness and early success.

Just as all children need to learn how to handle a book in early literacy, they need to be taught how to use technology, including how to open it, how it works, and how to take care of it.

Experts worry that technology is bad for children.

There are serious concerns about children spending too much time in front of screens, especially given the many screens in children’s lives.

Today, very young children are sitting in front of TVs, playing on iPads and iPhones, and watching their parents take photos on a digital camera, which has its own screen.

There used to be only the TV screen.

That was the screen we worried about and researched for 30 years.

We as a field know a whole lot about the impact of TV on children’s behavior and learning, but we know very little about all the new digital devices.

The American Academy of Pediatrics discourages screen time for children under two years old, but the NAEYC/Fred Rogers position statement takes a slightly different stance.

It says that technology and media should be limited, but what matters most is how it is used.

What is the content?

Is it being used in an intentional manner?

Is it developmentally appropriate?

As parents, we need to be aware of the drawbacks of technology and its impact on eyesight, vocabulary and physical development. We also need to be cognizant of our kids overall development,

My advice to teachers and parents is to trust your instincts. You know your child and if you think they have been watching the screen too long, turn it off.

It’s up to us, as parents, to notice that your child’s computer time is reducing or limiting interactions and playtime with other kids and nudge them in new directions. To encourage them to be physically active, to get outside and play.

It’s also up to the adult to understand the child’s personality and disposition and to figure out if a technology is one of the ways the child chooses to interact with the world.

At the same time, cut yourself some slack.

We all know that there are better things to do with children’s time than to plop them in front of a TV, but we also know that child care providers have to make lunch, and parents need time to take a shower.

In situations like that, it is the adult’s job to make the technology time more valuable and interactive by asking questions and connecting a child’s virtual experience on the screen with real-life experiences in her world.

Learning with Technology at Home
Whether you’re giving your child your smart screen phone to entertain them, or it’s your toddlers’ preferred playtime is on an iPad or tablet, here are eight ways to make sure your child’s experiences with technology are educational and fun.

Focus on Active Engagement

Any time your child is engaged with a screen, stop a program, or mute the commercials, and ask engaging questions. What was that character thinking? Why did the main character do that? What would you have done in that situation?

Allow for Repetition DVDs and YouTube videos add an essential ingredient for young minds which is repetition. Let your young child to watch the same video over and over, and ask him what he noticed after each viewing.

Make it Tactile Unlike computers that require a mouse to manipulate objects on the screen, iPads, tablets and smartphones allow kids manipulate “physical” objects with their fingers.

Practice Problem Solving An emerging category of games will force your child to solve problems as they play, potentially building concentration and analytical skills in the process; although the jury is still out on this. There is no clinical data that supports the marketing message of app makers.

Encourage Creation Use technology for creation, not just entertainment. Have your child record a story on your iPod, or sing a song into your video game system. Then, create an entirely new sound using the playback options, slow down and speed up their voice and add different backgrounds and beats until they’ve created something uniquely theirs.

Show Him How to Use It Many computer games have different levels and young children may not know how to move up or change levels. If your child is stuck on one level that’s become too easy, ask if he knows how to move up and help him if he wants more of a challenge.

Ask Why If your child is using an app or game the “wrong” way, always pressing the incorrect button, for example, ask them why. It may be that they like hearing the noise the game makes when they get the question wrong, or they might be stuck and can’t figure out which group of objects match number four.

Focus on Play Young kids should be exploring and playing with technology. This should be considered play, and not a focus on drilling skills.

Ask For Your Own Log-In Often, school programs come with a parent log-in that will allow you to see your child’s progress. If it doesn’t, ask to see the reports that a teacher has access to. Then, check his progress every few weeks. It’s a great way for you and your child to be on the same page about their progress.

Ask About Teacher Training Technology is often implemented in classrooms without appropriate professional development. If your child’s classroom is using a whole-class system, such as Clickers or an Interactive Smartboard, ask how it’s used in class and what training the teacher has had. “As a parent, you want to know if teachers feel well trained and they’re putting [new technologies] to good use.

Find Parent Resources One of the best ways that technology can help your child is by helping you learn more about learning.

Computers, smartphones, and tablets aren’t going away, but with a few tweaks and consideration, you can make your child’s technology-time productive, educational, and fun!

Let’s be honest. Most children can use a mouse, open and close apps, and even search the internet by the time they are three years old.

Once they have the cognitive ability, it’s time to talk with your child about internet safety.

Set clear guidelines and internet safety rules about what types of media are acceptable and carefully support and monitor your child’s technology use.

Tell your child to never share her name, address, or personal information online or on social media.

Talk with your child about what to do if he comes across inappropriate content (close the screen and alert you), and make sure you have a high-quality web filter and security system in place.

Wrapping it Up
Help your child understand that technology is just one of many tools for learning. Download educational games, read books and conduct research. When your child asks a question, conduct an Internet search to find the answer.

Before you press the off button, consider the ways that you can maximize your child’s technology time at home and school.

Humanity and Technology: The Alliance

THE SITUATION….THE GAP

Technology is advancing at lightning speed. Faster all the time, it is spreading into all areas of our lives. Equipment that once was obsolete two years ago is now obsolete within 6 months. Technological tools are getting smaller and more affordable to the entire world. Businesses and governments are trying to find their economic equilibrium as consumers purchase goods laterally, from one another through the Internet, often avoiding traditional consumer shopping or payment of sales tax.

Humanity is reeling from the physical effects of technology as well. Normal human development does not happen at lightning speed; it is a timed and sequenced process that requires human interaction, behavioral learning, and real experiences, if we are to learn the full spectrum of emotion and mature into healthy and happy adults. In times past, the way we lived our lives incorporated human interaction. Technology has now changed the way we live. Pushed too rapidly, human development becomes distorted or retarded, and emotional maturity goes awry.

While we continue to crave new and faster technology, as physical beings, we also feel the physical effects of getting what we want. We are becoming isolated and narrow in focus, perpetuating a narrow, superficial, and isolated existence. Human beings were not meant to live in this way. The human spirit needs to be nourished and replenished with work, play, friendship and love. At the core of us, we are emotionally and physically interactive beings. When we lose our ability and the opportunity for emotional connectedness, we are in danger of becoming as inanimate as the technology we so greatly desire.

Our electronic media culture bombards the current world with mass reproduction and reproducibility that can fool the human eye. Reality can become distorted; what’s real and what’s not real? The word, simulacrum means an unreal or superficial likeness, a copy without the original. Photographs, TV, video games, advertising, special effects, and computers are part of our electronic media, offering images so realistically created or altered, they can appear real, even when they are not. This inability to differentiate the real from the not real causes us to question our reality and we begin to mistrust our own perceptions. We begin to believe that nothing is real. This leads to feelings of apathy, hopelessness, and, ultimately, anarchy. If nothing is real, then nothing really matters. We become as robotic as our technological inventions, and just as cold and unfeeling. This is death to a human spirit that requires the warmth of human connection, touch and trust as its foundation. And, the human spirit will not go quietly into the night; it will not vanish without a fight. It will find some other way to express itself, too often in the sensual world of substance abuse and addiction.

A basic knowledge of human development is needed to understand the fundamental nature of the gap that has been created by our technological advancements. Our experiences from birth to age five set in place the neurological foundations upon which future learning depends: self-awareness, self-regulation, communication skills, personal relationships and the ability to learn from cause and effect. When one of these core developmental processes is not successfully navigated, it alters the ability to learn, evolve and mature. As human beings, we respond to and grow from being held, talked to, read to, listening to music, and played with, and pleasurable physical experiences with others. Without these foundations we regress, into human beings with no self-awareness, no self-control, unable to communicate our ideas, needs or desires to others, difficulty making or keeping relationships. And, not aware of what is wrong, we are unable to learn from our mistakes.

This is especially troubling in a wired world of information overload, and becoming more so as technology expands and speeds up its domain. When technology is offered to children too early, during human developmental years, it creates a problem. It may offer an intellectual exchange, but not the nuances of a human exchange. When technology is used as a surrogate caregiver, it creates emptiness within the human spirit.

The word simulation means the process of pretending, an imitation or representation of behavior, of one system through the use of another system. The military, law enforcement and businesses use the technology of virtual reality as a training tool, to train for the real thing. The technology of virtual reality may provide a partial learning experience, an intellectual experience but not a human encounter. It is an incomplete experience that lacks the full inclusion of the five senses, the very senses through which we experience being human. When we become aware and feel a full sensory experience, integrated through a shared physical encounter, it becomes functional, developing a human skill that we can use in future interactions.

As modern technology requires our cognitive self to speed up, the rest of our nervous system lags behind. This ultimately becomes a bridge too far and we create a split within ourselves, pitting technical being against human being: a brain without a body, intellect without emotion.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Technology can enhance the human world, but technology can also enhance the human being. What is needed are new ways to integrate technology with basic human needs and use that technology in the service of human development.

ONE SOLUTION

It is through the human developmental stage of pretend play and using The MovieMaking Process, that a creative alliance and innovative solution can be found between the world of human needs and the age of technology.

The MovieMaking Process is a simultaneous learning and teaching tool that incorporates human development with the best of today’s digital technology. Brain, body, awareness and emotions, merge through a shared and meaningful experience with others. This shared and meaningful experience with others is something human beings are hard-wired to need. Without it, there is an emptiness within that needs and desires to be filled. This desire will not go away until it is filled. Digital cameras and editing technology become the tools we use to create. Real life presentations expand this experience on a local level, and the Internet becomes the wormhole we slip through to share what we create on a worldwide scale.

The MovieMaking Process was developed to retrace fundamental early childhood developmental stages, address alternative learning styles, as well as visual perceptual differences, and teach new, behavioral skills quickly through the power of neuroplasticity-the brain’s ability to be re-wired. It does this through the tools of technology, self- awareness and play.

In the MovieMaking Process acting is used as a source of age-appropriate play. Pretend play is one of the developmental stages of early childhood, but the ability to play is needed throughout life; it is a human need. Play leaves the essence of reality intact; it is based on an actual physical experience that is shared with others. While simulacrum threatens to blur the difference between the real and not real, and simulation offers an imitation of an experience, pretend play incorporates mind and body through a shared sensory experience that teaches the subtleties of human actions and reactions-basic essentials of our humanness. It offers an experience to learn from and build upon. There are three distinct elements to The MovieMaking Process.

Clay and Art-Based Lessons: Initial clay and art lessons take the theme the movie will address and breaks it down into three to four core words, which are abstract concepts, focusing on the definition of these words required for total comprehension. These art based lessons teach from the perspective of an overview: the ability to see the larger picture and the relationships of parts to the whole. It entails using art, and physically creating these words and their definitions. By doing so, it is possible for almost everyone to conceptualize the meaning of abstract words, regardless of age or learning ability. Developmentally, this process takes advantage of the natural order of learning which must incorporate an interactive personal experience with another, that combines visual-spatial activities and involves touching, feeling or exploring objects. Simply put, these lessons can teach abstract concepts to concrete learners.

The theme of the movie may be any issue that needs to be addressed, or subject that needs to be learned, yet it must also have a functional goal, a link that addresses how can I use this information to make my current life better? Whatever the theme may be, it is within the shared experience of those participating and it is the experience that reconnects brain, body and awareness through active participation. It begins the filling of the emptiness.

Filming of the Movie: The filming of the movie provides the framework in which to plug in another early developmental stage in an age-appropriate way. Participants do not use dialogue; they use gestures and expressions to convey a message. This is one of the earliest human developmental needs, initially learned from the gestures and expressions of parents or primary caregivers. The reading of subtle body language is the foundation for learning the limits and boundaries of behavior.

Filming uses only one camera and one director/filmmaker. It is the participants who must develop certain human skills in order for the movie to flow with continuity and look more like a movie than simply action being recorded. Participants learn to freeze while the camera is moved and the lens refocused to show another perspective. Learning how to freeze for the camera teaches the basics of self-control. Participants must learn and use self-awareness to regulate themselves from the inside out. The need for self-control is obvious: without it, when human behavior becomes uncontrollable, a danger to others or ourselves, we eventually need to be controlled by others. Teaching self-control through the use of freeze, within the context of play, bypasses resistance to behavioral change.

The filming of the movie is often done in out of sequence parts, so the magic of editing technology now comes into play. The edited version of the movie creates something far more wonderful than anything the participants could have imagined. They see themselves larger than life, acting in a different way. Narration is added that contains the message the movie is intended to convey. More sophisticated language can be used within the narration, for it is added to the solid foundation of visual metaphors, and a real life remembered experience.

The final, magical touch, to The MovieMaking Process is the musical score that runs through the movie. Music is vibration and the combination of musical tones has always been able to inspire and move the human spirit. In listening, we are emotionally moved, and through that process we become more than what we are. The whole movie experience is now part of us: in our mind, our emotions, our body, and our spirit; aware, alive, and enhanced.

Several Presentations: Presentations of the finished movie are mandatory, using the latest in neuroscience research the power of paying attention in a positive and pro-active way. As participants present their creation to others, talking about their experience, what and how they created it, it is possible to bring a larger group into the experience and once again share a meaningful interaction, simply in a different way. As digital technology continues to expand and movie theatres acquire the universal ability to show digital movies, everyday people and community groups can become stars in their own lives. They can see themselves, literally, larger than life and learning from themselves, over and over.

By aligning with technology, using The MovieMaking Process as a learning and teaching tool; human development, through pretend play, can claim authority over simulation and simulacrum, overruling them with a meaningful, shared experience. At its core, The MovieMaking Process is differentiation, simply taking an issue as it is: learning to do it differently with a productive and positive ending and gaining the awareness to perceive the differences.

As digital cameras get smaller, they offer the ability for use with very young children, within classrooms, therapeutic learning environments and community groups, without being obtrusive. As they evolve in quality, they offer more clarity, more lighting corrections and more internal movement possibilities, getting closer and closer to the look of 35mm film. As digital cameras and editing equipment become more economical, they allow for their use by families, public education, community groups, faith-based groups, service agencies, even underdeveloped and economically disadvantaged countries.

As all-purpose, home entertainment devices permeate mainstream living-rooms, the neighborhood Premiere is only a step away. The Internet, with its variable and expanding forms of distribution, allows for global presentations of local creative projects, entertaining and educating at the same time. Ideas are community property and free access to information is meant to be a matter of principle. Instead of being isolated by the use of technology, technology can be used to reconnect humanity as communities engaged in creative and pro-active use of the media arts to address human needs and social issues.

CONCLUSION

The MovieMaking Process is an independent educational initiative. It was developed on the solid foundation of human development and alternative learning styles, while tapping into the positive power of the neurosciences through the media arts. It was developed as a way to use technology for the advancement of humanity. Training is offered in workshops for teachers, families and community activists.

This process has been used successfully with children and adults who have complex learning difficulties or exhibit atypical behavior, in education, mental health, probation and corrections. It’s also been used with entire communities to address global issues on a grassroots level. It allows for the creative and diplomatic progress of technology and humanity, incorporating the developmental needs of human beings and the very best that technology has to offer, each urging the other to continually evolve and challenge one another toward excellence. Its potential uses are unlimited, allowing humanity and technology to co-evolve, creatively bringing out the best in one another. In 2008. it was nominated to SAMHSA’s Midwest Science To Service Academy as one of the Midwest’s most promising prevention programs.

Impacts of Information Technology on Society in the New Century

In the past few decades there has been a revolution in computing and communications, and all indications are that technological progress and use of information technology will continue at a rapid pace. Accompanying and supporting the dramatic increases in the power and use of new information technologies has been the declining cost of communications as a result of both technological improvements and increased competition. According to Moore’s law the processing power of microchips is doubling every 18 months. These advances present many significant opportunities but also pose major challenges. Today, innovations in information technology are having wide-ranging effects across numerous domains of society, and policy makers are acting on issues involving economic productivity, intellectual property rights, privacy protection, and affordability of and access to information. Choices made now will have long lasting consequences, and attention must be paid to their social and economic impacts.

One of the most significant outcomes of the progress of information technology is probably electronic commerce over the Internet, a new way of conducting business. Though only a few years old, it may radically alter economic activities and the social environment. Already, it affects such large sectors as communications, finance and retail trade and might expand to areas such as education and health services. It implies the seamless application of information and communication technology along the entire value chain of a business that is conducted electronically.

The impacts of information technology and electronic commerce on business models, commerce, market structure, workplace, labour market, education, private life and society as a whole.

1. Business Models, Commerce and Market Structure

One important way in which information technology is affecting work is by reducing the importance of distance. In many industries, the geographic distribution of work is changing significantly. For instance, some software firms have found that they can overcome the tight local market for software engineers by sending projects to India or other nations where the wages are much lower. Furthermore, such arrangements can take advantage of the time differences so that critical projects can be worked on nearly around the clock. Firms can outsource their manufacturing to other nations and rely on telecommunications to keep marketing, R&D, and distribution teams in close contact with the manufacturing groups. Thus the technology can enable a finer division of labour among countries, which in turn affects the relative demand for various skills in each nation. The technology enables various types of work and employment to be decoupled from one another. Firms have greater freedom to locate their economic activities, creating greater competition among regions in infrastructure, labour, capital, and other resource markets. It also opens the door for regulatory arbitrage: firms can increasingly choose which tax authority and other regulations apply.

Computers and communication technologies also promote more market-like forms of production and distribution. An infrastructure of computing and communication technology, providing 24-hour access at low cost to almost any kind of price and product information desired by buyers, will reduce the informational barriers to efficient market operation. This infrastructure might also provide the means for effecting real-time transactions and make intermediaries such as sales clerks, stock brokers and travel agents, whose function is to provide an essential information link between buyers and sellers, redundant. Removal of intermediaries would reduce the costs in the production and distribution value chain. The information technologies have facilitated the evolution of enhanced mail order retailing, in which goods can be ordered quickly by using telephones or computer networks and then dispatched by suppliers through integrated transport companies that rely extensively on computers and communication technologies to control their operations. Nonphysical goods, such as software, can be shipped electronically, eliminating the entire transport channel. Payments can be done in new ways. The result is disintermediation throughout the distribution channel, with cost reduction, lower end-consumer prices, and higher profit margins.

The impact of information technology on the firms’ cost structure can be best illustrated on the electronic commerce example. The key areas of cost reduction when carrying out a sale via electronic commerce rather than in a traditional store involve physical establishment, order placement and execution, customer support, strong, inventory carrying, and distribution. Although setting up and maintaining an e-commerce web site might be expensive, it is certainly less expensive to maintain such a storefront than a physical one because it is always open, can be accessed by millions around the globe, and has few variable costs, so that it can scale up to meet the demand. By maintaining one ‘store’ instead of several, duplicate inventory costs are eliminated. In addition, e-commerce is very effective at reducing the costs of attracting new customers, because advertising is typically cheaper than for other media and more targeted. Moreover, the electronic interface allows e-commerce merchants to check that an order is internally consistent and that the order, receipt, and invoice match. Through e-commerce, firms are able to move much of their customer support on line so that customers can access databases or manuals directly. This significantly cuts costs while generally improving the quality of service. E-commerce shops require far fewer, but high-skilled, employees. E-commerce also permits savings in inventory carrying costs. The faster the input can be ordered and delivered, the less the need for a large inventory. The impact on costs associated with decreased inventories is most pronounced in industries where the product has a limited shelf life (e.g. bananas), is subject to fast technological obsolescence or price declines (e.g. computers), or where there is a rapid flow of new products (e.g. books, music). Although shipping costs can increase the cost of many products purchased via electronic commerce and add substantially to the final price, distribution costs are significantly reduced for digital products such as financial services, software, and travel, which are important e-commerce segments.

Although electronic commerce causes the disintermediation of some intermediaries, it creates greater dependency on others and also some entirely new intermediary functions. Among the intermediary services that could add costs to e-commerce transactions are advertising, secure online payment, and delivery. The relative ease of becoming an e-commerce merchant and setting up stores results in such a huge number of offerings that consumers can easily be overwhelmed. This increases the importance of using advertising to establish a brand name and thus generate consumer familiarity and trust. For new e-commerce start-ups, this process can be expensive and represents a significant transaction cost. The openness, global reach, and lack of physical clues that are inherent characteristics of e-commerce also make it vulnerable to fraud and thus increase certain costs for e-commerce merchants as compared to traditional stores. New techniques are being developed to protect the use of credit cards in e-commerce transactions, but the need for greater security and user verification leads to increased costs. A key feature of e-commerce is the convenience of having purchases delivered directly. In the case of tangibles, such as books, this incurs delivery costs, which cause prices to rise in most cases, thereby negating many of the savings associated with e-commerce and substantially adding to transaction costs.

With the Internet, e-commerce is rapidly expanding into a fast-moving, open global market with an ever-increasing number of participants. The open and global nature of e-commerce is likely to increase market size and change market structure, both in terms of the number and size of players and the way in which players compete on international markets. Digitized products can cross the border in real time, consumers can shop 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and firms are increasingly faced with international online competition. The Internet is helping to enlarge existing markets by cutting through many of the distribution and marketing barriers that can prevent firms from gaining access to foreign markets. E-commerce lowers information and transaction costs for operating on overseas markets and provides a cheap and efficient way to strengthen customer-supplier relations. It also encourages companies to develop innovative ways of advertising, delivering and supporting their product and services. While e-commerce on the Internet offers the potential for global markets, certain factors, such as language, transport costs, local reputation, as well as differences in the cost and ease of access to networks, attenuate this potential to a greater or lesser extent.

2. Workplace and Labour Market

Computers and communication technologies allow individuals to communicate with one another in ways complementary to traditional face-to-face, telephonic, and written modes. They enable collaborative work involving distributed communities of actors who seldom, if ever, meet physically. These technologies utilize communication infrastructures that are both global and always up, thus enabling 24-hour activity and asynchronous as well as synchronous interactions among individuals, groups, and organizations. Social interaction in organizations will be affected by use of computers and communication technologies. Peer-to-peer relations across department lines will be enhanced through sharing of information and coordination of activities. Interaction between superiors and subordinates will become more tense because of social control issues raised by the use of computerized monitoring systems, but on the other hand, the use of e-mail will lower the barriers to communications across different status levels, resulting in more uninhibited communications between supervisor and subordinates.

That the importance of distance will be reduced by computers and communication technology also favours telecommuting, and thus, has implications for the residence patterns of the citizens. As workers find that they can do most of their work at home rather than in a centralized workplace, the demand for homes in climatically and physically attractive regions would increase. The consequences of such a shift in employment from the suburbs to more remote areas would be profound. Property values would rise in the favoured destinations and fall in the suburbs. Rural, historical, or charming aspects of life and the environment in the newly attractive areas would be threatened. Since most telecommuters would be among the better educated and higher paid, the demand in these areas for high-income and high-status services like gourmet restaurants and clothing boutiques would increase. Also would there be an expansion of services of all types, creating and expanding job opportunities for the local population.

By reducing the fixed cost of employment, widespread telecommuting should make it easier for individuals to work on flexible schedules, to work part time, to share jobs, or to hold two or more jobs simultaneously. Since changing employers would not necessarily require changing one’s place of residence, telecommuting should increase job mobility and speed career advancement. This increased flexibility might also reduce job stress and increase job satisfaction. Since job stress is a major factor governing health there may be additional benefits in the form of reduced health costs and mortality rates. On the other hand one might also argue that technologies, by expanding the number of different tasks that are expected of workers and the array of skills needed to perform these tasks, might speed up work and increase the level of stress and time pressure on workers.

A question that is more difficult to be answered is about the impacts that computers and communications might have on employment. The ability of computers and communications to perform routine tasks such as bookkeeping more rapidly than humans leads to concern that people will be replaced by computers and communications. The response to this argument is that even if computers and communications lead to the elimination of some workers, other jobs will be created, particularly for computer professionals, and that growth in output will increase overall employment. It is more likely that computers and communications will lead to changes in the types of workers needed for different occupations rather than to changes in total employment.

A number of industries are affected by electronic commerce. The distribution sector is directly affected, as e-commerce is a way of supplying and delivering goods and services. Other industries, indirectly affected, are those related to information and communication technology (the infrastructure that enables e-commerce), content-related industries (entertainment, software), transactions-related industries (financial sector, advertising, travel, transport). eCommerce might also create new markets or extend market reach beyond traditional borders. Enlarging the market will have a positive effect on jobs. Another important issue relates to inter linkages among activities affected by e-commerce. Expenditure for e-commerce-related intermediate goods and services will create jobs indirectly, on the basis of the volume of electronic transactions and their effect on prices, costs and productivity. The convergence of media, telecommunication and computing technologies is creating a new integrated supply chain for the production and delivery of multimedia and information content. Most of the employment related to e-commerce around the content industries and communication infrastructure such as the Internet.

Jobs are both created and destroyed by technology, trade, and organizational change. These processes also underlie changes in the skill composition of employment. Beyond the net employment gains or losses brought about by these factors, it is apparent that workers with different skill levels will be affected differently. E-commerce is certainly driving the demand for IT professionals but it also requires IT expertise to be coupled with strong business application skills, thereby generating demand for a flexible, multi-skilled work force. There is a growing need for increased integration of Internet front-end applications with enterprise operations, applications and back-end databases. Many of the IT skill requirements needed for Internet support can be met by low-paid IT workers who can deal with the organizational services needed for basic web page programming. However, wide area networks, competitive web sites, and complex network applications require much more skill than a platform-specific IT job. Since the skills required for e-commerce are rare and in high demand, e-commerce might accelerate the up skilling trend in many countries by requiring high-skilled computer scientists to replace low-skilled information clerks, cashiers and market salespersons.

3. Education

Advances in information technology will affect the craft of teaching by complementing rather than eliminating traditional classroom instruction. Indeed the effective instructor acts in a mixture of roles. In one role the instructor is a supplier of services to the students, who might be regarded as its customers. But the effective instructor occupies another role as well, as a supervisor of students, and plays a role in motivating, encouraging, evaluating, and developing students. For any topic there will always be a small percentage of students with the necessary background, motivation, and self-discipline to learn from self-paced workbooks or computer assisted instruction. For the majority of students, however, the presence of a live instructor will continue to be far more effective than a computer assisted counterpart in facilitating positive educational outcomes. The greatest potential for new information technology lies in improving the productivity of time spent outside the classroom. Making solutions to problem sets and assigned reading materials available on the Internet offers a lot of convenience. E-mail vastly simplifies communication between students and faculty and among students who may be engaged in group projects. Advances in information technology will affect the craft of teaching by complementing rather than eliminating traditional classroom instruction. Indeed the effective instructor acts in a mixture of roles. In one role the instructor is a supplier of services to the students, who might be regarded as its customers. But the effective instructor occupies another role as well, as a supervisor of students, and plays a role in motivating, encouraging, evaluating, and developing students. For any topic there will always be a small percentage of students with the necessary background, motivation, and self-discipline to learn from self-paced workbooks or computer assisted instruction. For the majority of students, however, the presence of a live instructor will continue to be far more effective than a computer assisted counterpart in facilitating positive educational outcomes. The greatest potential for new information technology lies in improving the productivity of time spent outside the classroom. Making solutions to problem sets and assigned reading materials available on the Internet offers a lot of convenience. E-mail vastly simplifies communication between students and faculty and among students who may be engaged in group projects.

Although distance learning has existed for some time, the Internet makes possible a large expansion in coverage and better delivery of instruction. Text can be combined with audio/ video, and students can interact in real time via e-mail and discussion groups. Such technical improvements coincide with a general demand for retraining by those who, due to work and family demands, cannot attend traditional courses. Distance learning via the Internet is likely to complement existing schools for children and university students, but it could have more of a substitution effect for continuing education programmes. For some degree programmes, high-prestige institutions could use their reputation to attract students who would otherwise attend a local facility. Owing to the Internet’s ease of access and convenience for distance learning, overall demand for such programmes will probably expand, leading to growth in this segment of e-commerce.

As shown in the previous section, high level skills are vital in a technology-based and knowledge intensive economy. Changes associated with rapid technological advances in industry have made continual upgrading of professional skills an economic necessity. The goal of lifelong learning can only be accomplished by reinforcing and adapting existing systems of learning, both in public and private sectors. The demand for education and training concerns the full range of modern technology. Information technologies are uniquely capable of providing ways to meet this demand. Online training via the Internet ranges from accessing self-study courses to complete electronic classrooms. These computer-based training programmes provide flexibility in skills acquisition and are more affordable and relevant than more traditional seminars and courses.

4. Private Life and Society

Increasing representation of a wide variety of content in digital form results in easier and cheaper duplication and distribution of information. This has a mixed effect on the provision of content. On the one hand, content can be distributed at a lower unit cost. On the other hand, distribution of content outside of channels that respect intellectual property rights can reduce the incentives of creators and distributors to produce and make content available in the first place. Information technology raises a host of questions about intellectual property protection and new tools and regulations have to be developed in order to solve this problem.

Many issues also surround free speech and regulation of content on the Internet, and there continue to be calls for mechanisms to control objectionable content. However it is very difficult to find a sensible solution. Dealing with indecent material involves understanding not only the views on such topics but also their evolution over time. Furthermore, the same technology that allows for content altering with respect to decency can be used to filter political speech and to restrict access to political material. Thus, if censorship does not appear to be an option, a possible solution might be labelling. The idea is that consumers will be better informed in their decisions to avoid objectionable content.

The rapid increase in computing and communications power has raised considerable concern about privacy both in the public and private sector. Decreases in the cost of data storage and information processing make it likely that it will become practicable for both government and private data-mining enterprises to collect detailed dossiers on all citizens. Nobody knows who currently collects data about individuals, how this data is used and shared or how this data might be misused. These concerns lower the consumers’ trust in online institutions and communication and, thus, inhibit the development of electronic commerce. A technological approach to protecting privacy might by cryptography although it might be claimed that cryptography presents a serious barrier to criminal investigations.

It is popular wisdom that people today suffer information overload. A lot of the information available on the Internet is incomplete and even incorrect. People spend more and more of their time absorbing irrelevant information just because it is available and they think they should know about it. Therefore, it must be studied how people assign credibility to the information they collect in order to invent and develop new credibility systems to help consumers to manage the information overload.

Technological progress inevitably creates dependence on technology. Indeed the creation of vital infrastructure ensures dependence on that infrastructure. As surely as the world is now dependent on its transport, telephone, and other infrastructures, it will be dependent on the emerging information infrastructure. Dependence on technology can bring risks. Failures in the technological infrastructure can cause the collapse of economic and social functionality. Blackouts of long-distance telephone service, credit data systems, and electronic funds transfer systems, and other such vital communications and information processing services would undoubtedly cause widespread economic disruption. However, it is probably impossible to avoid technological dependence. Therefore, what must be considered is the exposure brought from dependence on technologies with a recognizable probability of failure, no workable substitute at hand, and high costs as a result of failure.

The ongoing computing and communications revolution has numerous economic and social impacts on modern society and requires serious social science investigation in order to manage its risks and dangers. Such work would be valuable for both social policy and technology design. Decisions have to be taken carefully. Many choices being made now will be costly or difficult to modify in the future.

History of Wireless Technologies

The development of Wireless technology owes it all to Michael Faraday – for discovering the principle of electromagnetic induction, to James Maxwell – for the Maxwell’s equations and to Guglielmo Marconi – for transmitting a wireless signal over one and a half miles. The sole purpose of Wi-Fi technology is wireless communication, through which information can be transferred between two or more points that are not connected by electrical conductors.

Wireless technologies were in use since the advent of radios, which use electromagnetic transmissions. Eventually, consumer electronics manufacturers started thinking about the possibilities of automating domestic microcontroller based devices. Timely and reliable relay of sensor data and controller commands were soon achieved, which led to the discovery of Wireless communications that we see everywhere now.

History

With the radios being used for wireless communications in the World war era, scientists and inventors started focusing on means to developing wireless phones. The radio soon became available for consumers and by mid 1980s, wireless phones or mobile phones started to appear. In the late 1990s, mobile phones gained huge prominence with over 50 million users worldwide. Then the concept of wireless internet and its possibilities were taken into account. Eventually, the wireless internet technology came into existence. This gave a boost to the growth of wireless technology, which comes in many forms at present.

Applications of Wireless Technology

The rapid progress of wireless technology led to the invention of mobile phones which uses radio waves to enable communication from different locations around the world. The application of wireless tech now ranges from wireless data communications in various fields including medicine, military etc to wireless energy transfers and wireless interface of computer peripherals. Point to point, point to multipoint, broadcasting etc are all possible and easy now with the use of wireless.

The most widely used Wi-Fi tech is the Bluetooth, which uses short wavelength radio transmissions to connect and communicate with other compatible electronic devices. This technology has grown to a phase where wireless keyboards, mouse and other peripherals can be connected to a computer. Wireless technologies are used:

· While traveling

· In Hotels

· In Business

· In Mobile and voice communication

· In Home networking

· In Navigation systems

· In Video game consoles

· In quality control systems

The greatest benefit of Wireless like Wi-Fi is the portability. For distances between devices where cabling isn’t an option, technologies like Wi-Fi can be used. Wi-fi communications can also provide as a backup communications link in case of network failures. One can even use wireless technologies to use data services even if he’s stuck in the middle of the ocean. However, Wireless still have slower response times compared to wired communications and interfaces. But this gap is getting narrower with each passing year.

Progress of Wireless technology

Wireless data communications now come in technologies namely Wi-Fi (a wireless local area network), cellular data services such as GPRS, EDGE and 3G, and mobile satellite communications. Point-to-point communication was a big deal decades ago. But now, point-to-multipoint and wireless data streaming to multiple wirelessly connected devices are possible. Personal network of computers can now be created using Wi-Fi, which also allows data services to be shared by multiple systems connected to the network.

Wireless technologies with faster speeds at 5 ghz and transmission capabilities were quite expensive when they were invented. But now, almost all mobile handsets and mini computers come with technologies like Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, although with variable data transfer speeds. Wireless have grown to such a level, where even mobile handsets can act as Wi-Fi hotspots, enabling other handsets or computers connected to a particular Wi-Fi hotspot enabled handset, can share cellular data services and other information. Streaming audio and video data wirelessly from the cell phone to a TV or computer is a walk in the park now.

Wireless Technology today, are robust, easy to use, and are portable as there are no cables involved. Apart from local area networks, even Metropolitan Area networks have started using Wi-fi tech (WMAN) and Customer Premises Equipment ( CPE ). Aviation, Transportation and the Military use wireless technologies in the form of Satellite communications. Without using interconnecting wires, wireless technologies are also used in transferring energy from a power source to a load, given that the load doesn’t have a built-in power source.

However, the fact that ‘nothing comes without a drawback’ or ‘nothing is perfect’ also applies to Wi-fi technology. Wireless technologies still have limitations, but scientists are currently working on it to remove the drawbacks and add to the benefits. The main limitation is that Wireless technologies such as Bluetooth and Wi-Fi can only be used in a limited area. The wireless signals can be broadcasted only to a particular distance. Devices outside of this range won’t be able to use Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. But the distance limitation is becoming reduced every year. There are also a few security limitations which hackers can exploit to cause harm in a wireless network. But Wireless technologies with better security features have started to come out. So this is not going to be a problem for long.

Speaking of progress, Wi-Fi technology is not limited to powerful computers and mobile handsets. The technology has progressed enough that Wi-Fi enabled TVs and microwaves have started appearing in the markets. The latest and the most talked-about wireless technology is the NFC or Near Field Communication, which lets users exchange data by tapping their devices together. Using wireless technologies are not as expensive as it used to be in the last decade. With each passing year, newer and better wireless technologies arrive with greater benefits.

What Is the Relevance of Technology?

“Technology in the long-run is irrelevant”. That is what a customer of mine told me when I made a presentation to him about a new product. I had been talking about the product’s features and benefits and listed “state-of-the-art technology” or something to that effect, as one of them. That is when he made his statement. I realized later that he was correct, at least within the context of how I used “Technology” in my presentation. But I began thinking about whether he could be right in other contexts as well.

What is Technology?

Merriam-Webster defines it as:

1

a: the practical application of knowledge especially in a particular area: engineering 2 <medical technology>

b: a capability given by the practical application of knowledge <a car’s fuel-saving technology>

2

: a manner of accomplishing a task especially using technical processes, methods, or knowledge

3

: the specialized aspects of a particular field of endeavor <educational technology>

Wikipedia defines it as:

Technology (from Greek τέχνη, techne, “art, skill, cunning of hand”; and -λογία, -logia[1]) is the making, modification, usage, and knowledge of tools, machines, techniques, crafts, systems, and methods of organization, in order to solve a problem, improve a preexisting solution to a problem, achieve a goal, handle an applied input/output relation or perform a specific function. It can also refer to the collection of such tools, including machinery, modifications, arrangements and procedures. Technologies significantly affect human as well as other animal species’ ability to control and adapt to their natural environments. The term can either be applied generally or to specific areas: examples include construction technology, medical technology, and information technology.

Both definitions revolve around the same thing – application and usage.

Technology is an enabler

Many people mistakenly believe it is technology which drives innovation. Yet from the definitions above, that is clearly not the case. It is opportunity which defines innovation and technology which enables innovation. Think of the classic “Build a better mousetrap” example taught in most business schools. You might have the technology to build a better mousetrap, but if you have no mice or the old mousetrap works well, there is no opportunity and then the technology to build a better one becomes irrelevant. On the other hand, if you are overrun with mice then the opportunity exists to innovate a product using your technology.

Another example, one with which I am intimately familiar, are consumer electronics startup companies. I’ve been associated with both those that succeeded and those that failed. Each possessed unique leading edge technologies. The difference was opportunity. Those that failed could not find the opportunity to develop a meaningful innovation using their technology. In fact to survive, these companies had to morph oftentimes into something totally different and if they were lucky they could take advantage of derivatives of their original technology. More often than not, the original technology wound up in the scrap heap. Technology, thus, is an enabler whose ultimate value proposition is to make improvements to our lives. In order to be relevant, it needs to be used to create innovations that are driven by opportunity.

Technology as a competitive advantage?

Many companies list a technology as one of their competitive advantages. Is this valid? In some cases yes, but In most cases no.

Technology develops along two paths – an evolutionary path and a revolutionary path.

A revolutionary technology is one which enables new industries or enables solutions to problems that were previously not possible. Semiconductor technology is a good example. Not only did it spawn new industries and products, but it spawned other revolutionary technologies – transistor technology, integrated circuit technology, microprocessor technology. All which provide many of the products and services we consume today. But is semiconductor technology a competitive advantage? Looking at the number of semiconductor companies that exist today (with new ones forming every day), I’d say not. How about microprocessor technology? Again, no. Lots of microprocessor companies out there. How about quad core microprocessor technology? Not as many companies, but you have Intel, AMD, ARM, and a host of companies building custom quad core processors (Apple, Samsung, Qualcomm, etc). So again, not much of a competitive advantage. Competition from competing technologies and easy access to IP mitigates the perceived competitive advantage of any particular technology. Android vs iOS is a good example of how this works. Both operating systems are derivatives of UNIX. Apple used their technology to introduce iOS and gained an early market advantage. However, Google, utilizing their variant of Unix (a competing technology), caught up relatively quickly. The reasons for this lie not in the underlying technology, but in how the products made possible by those technologies were brought to market (free vs. walled garden, etc.) and the differences in the strategic visions of each company.

Evolutionary technology is one which incrementally builds upon the base revolutionary technology. But by it’s very nature, the incremental change is easier for a competitor to match or leapfrog. Take for example wireless cellphone technology. Company V introduced 4G products prior to Company A and while it may have had a short term advantage, as soon as Company A introduced their 4G products, the advantage due to technology disappeared. The consumer went back to choosing Company A or Company V based on price, service, coverage, whatever, but not based on technology. Thus technology might have been relevant in the short term, but in the long term, became irrelevant.

In today’s world, technologies tend to quickly become commoditized, and within any particular technology lies the seeds of its own death.

Technology’s Relevance

This article was written from the prospective of an end customer. From a developer/designer standpoint things get murkier. The further one is removed from the technology, the less relevant it becomes. To a developer, the technology can look like a product. An enabling product, but a product nonetheless, and thus it is highly relevant. Bose uses a proprietary signal processing technology to enable products that meet a set of market requirements and thus the technology and what it enables is relevant to them. Their customers are more concerned with how it sounds, what’s the price, what’s the quality, etc., and not so much with how it is achieved, thus the technology used is much less relevant to them.

Recently, I was involved in a discussion on Google+ about the new Motorola X phone. A lot of the people on those posts slammed the phone for various reasons – price, locked boot loader, etc. There were also plenty of knocks on the fact that it didn’t have a quad-core processor like the S4 or HTC One which were priced similarly. What they failed to grasp is that whether the manufacturer used 1, 2, 4, or 8 cores in the end makes no difference as long as the phone can deliver a competitive (or even best of class) feature set, functionality, price, and user experience. The iPhone is one of the most successful phones ever produced, and yet it runs on a dual-core processor. It still delivers one of the best user experiences on the market. The features that are enabled by the technology are what are relevant to the consumer, not the technology itself.

The relevance of technology therefore, is as an enabler, not as a product feature or a competitive advantage, or any myriad of other things – an enabler. Looking at the Android operating system, it is an impressive piece of software technology, and yet Google gives it away. Why? Because standalone, it does nothing for Google. Giving it away allows other companies to use their expertise to build products and services which then act as enablers for Google’s products and services. To Google, that’s where the real value is.

The possession of or access to a technology is only important for what it enables you to do – create innovations which solve problems. That is the real relevance of technology.