What Is ICT? | The Skills for an Information System Age
INTRODUCTION TO ICT (INFORMATION AND COMMUNICATION TECHNOLOGY)
Information system age has been a very rewarding eras in human history characterized with explosion of interests. Information system technology has completely changed our communication system in our present 21st Century world – a revolution so rapidly integrating into our lives and changing our media culture drastically.
As part of the introduction to ICT, the answer to the question what is ICT will guide us in understanding the meaning of ICT? Understanding Information & communication Technology, Types of ICT and Examples of ICT gadgets or ICT tools or ICT devices are worth considering too.
MEANING OF ICT/WHAT IS ICT?
Information and communication technology (ICT) refers to all media technology tools or devices and resources that enhance one’s communication skills and delivers communication technology solutions and services. One’s communication skills makes him able to communicate efficiently.
EXAMPLES OF ICTS
- Audio-visuals (television, radio, walkie-talkie, disc machines, filmstrips, podcasts),
- Telephone (fixed, mobile, satellite)
- Computers (cell phones, router, digital wristwatches, calculators, medical diagnostic machines, robots, storage devices) and its associated network hardware devices and accessories (modem, router, wired networks).
- Wireless network and software and
- The internet (websites, blogs and emails, social network, video conference, online services)
EXAMPLES OF ICT GADGETS OR ICT TOOLS OR ICT DEVICES
They are audio-visuals, telephone and computers.
UNDERSTANDING INFORMATION & COMMUNICATION TECHNOLOGY (ICT)
Understanding information and communication technology is having knowledge of how technologies make efficient communication possible, good communication & collaborative skills to perform basic ICT tasks, such as, making a voice or video call, surfing the internet, using a mobile phone or tablet, sending an email, among others.
TYPES OF ICT (INFORMATION & COMMUNICATION TECHNOLOGY) OR INFORMATION SYSTEM TECHNOLOGY OR DIGITAL COMMUNICATION TECHNOLOGY
There are three types of ICT (Information & Communication Technology). They are Physical communication technologies (ICT gadgets or ICT hardware), Non-physical communication technologies (ICT software) and Communication technology services (ICT services).
1). PHYSICAL COMMUNICATION TECHNOLOGY (ICT GADGETS)
ICT gadgets includes audio-visuals, telephone and computers
Many high-definition digital televisions are multimedia devices that display more interactive TV programmes, games, photographs, and movies; streamed internet content, play music, video and recorded media like CDs and DVDs. Televisions are evolving into true two-way digital communication devices.
Cell phones are equipped with the ability to access the internet and download a wide range of apps speedily. They make making calls, sending texts, voice mails and other digital communication services simpler. They are relatively newer and more reliable than telephones.
There are numerous things computer can do as far as device connectivity, task processing, data management & storage is concerned – word processing, data processing, database management, desktop publishing, to mention but a few. Computer connects us to the internet and helps us share information in a network (online collaboration).
A modem is a device that translates signals to and fro between two computer devices in a network.
Other physical communication technologies (ICT gadgets or ICT hardware) in digital devices include remote controls, keyless entry devices, walkie-talkies, Bluetooth earpieces, GPS satellites, cash registers and credit cards CDs, DVDs, flash drives, tape, compact memory chips.
2.) NON-PHYSICAL COMMUNICATION TECHNOLOGY OR ICT SOFTWARE (VIRTUAL COMMUNICATION TECHNOLOGY).
ICT software replaces physical computers with simulating computer software applications. Software and wireless network represent ICT software.
Software is a programme that directs the smooth running of a computer system. It can be system software or application software. Examples are MS Internet Explorer, MS Word and lots more.
3.) COMMUNICATION TECHNOLOGY SERVICES (ICT SERVICES)
THE INTERNET AND EMAIL SERVICES
The internet is global interconnectivity of computer networks in the World Wide Web (WWW) sharing information with one another. Modems and wireless routers are examples of ICT hardware related to the internet. There are internal networks, known as intranets, used to secure internal communication. Email over network, a form of digital communication technology, is a feature of internal services.
For certain communication services to be possible, there must be convergence and integration of both physical & non-physical communication technologies to work together such as unification of telephone network with the computer network solution system using a single unified system of cabling, signal distribution and management.
From a different perspective of classification, two types of ICT can be interpersonal communication devices and mass communication devices.
ICT Skills is used to illustrate ICT capability & competence. That is, the determination of effective use of information and communication technology. The demand for 21st Century ICT capability depends on ability to upgrade from life skills and job skills to ICT skills and still retain the previous skills.
While the process of identification of 21st Century skills is still on-going, increasing use of digital technologies at workplaces is raising the demand for new skills along three distinguishable categories:
1.) ICT GENERIC USER (BASIC USER)
A basic user is a competent user who possesses ICT generic skills. The digital society requires an ICT generic-skilled user to use ICT as a tool in their daily work life. An example is the use of software like MS Internet Explorer browser to access information online, office suites, email clients, etc. Workers across a range of occupations need to acquire ICT generic skills.
2.) ICT COMPLEMENTARY USER (ADVANCED USER)
An Advanced user is a competent user of sector-specific software tools. ICTs are his tools but not his main job. He has ICT complementary skills and his ICT capability is the area of processing complex information, communicating with co-workers and customers, solving problems, planning in advance while adjusting comfortably to the work within ICT-shaped environments – an environment rich in digital technology. These are skills unrelated to the capability to use the information technology effectively but to carry out routine tasks.
3.) ICT SPECIALIST
The production of ICT products and services – software, web pages, e-commerce, cloud and big data – requires the competence of an ICT specialist. ICT specialist possesses skills to programme, develop applications and manage networks. The ability to develop, operate and maintain ICT systems constitute his job role.
MEANING OF ICT SKILLS
ICT Skills is the capability of using various interrelated physical & non-physical communication technologies in database information system management to access, capture, process, manipulate, produce, present, store, retrieve, transmit, exchange and distribute information and other types of electronically-mediated communications in a digital form.
TYPES OF ICT SKILLS
Proficiency in the operational knowledge of ICT devices underscores the level of possession of ICT Skills. Types of ICT skills include Smartphones, tablets & computers skills, Email service set up and management skills, Word processing skills, Database management & queries, Desktop publishing skills, Computer science & engineering skills, Online research skills, Online collaboration skills, Social media management skills
1.) SMARTPHONES, TABLETS & COMPUTERS SKILLS
Smartphones and tablets have become effective ICT tools at workplaces because they can enhance faster communication through online real-time calls, chatting and instant messaging, email services. Some employers include ownership of smartphone as a necessary condition for employment.
2.) EMAIL SERVICE SET UP AND MANAGEMENT SKILLS
Employees of any organization can set up and manage email account on computer devices and use the email services to communicate effectively with co-workers, management, customers, and other business partners. Some examples of email services are Groove, MS Outlook, Gmail, SendinBlue email, etc.
3.) WORD PROCESSING SKILLS
Word processing skill is knowledge, skills and abilities used in document processing technology like production of written documents – business letters, meeting minutes, etc, using a computer processing device. Examples of word processing documents are MS Word, Libre Office Writer, among others.
4.) DATABASE MANAGEMENT & QUERIES SKILLS
Everyone in educational, business or office setting ranging from office clerks to preschool teachers to professionals need database management skills. They should be able to do data analysis & queries in the database management system to monitor and control trends and patterns. Some examples of database management software include MS Excel, SQL, Filters, NoSQL, etc.
5.) DESKTOP PUBLISHING SKILLS
Desktop publishing is an ICT skill that brings a user into the world of creativity and artistry. Printable and distributable materials like newsletters, banners, hand bills, brochures, can be created using desktop publishing software. MS Publisher, MS Power Point, MS Word, Adobe Creative Suite are some examples of desktop publishing software.
6.) COMPUTER SCIENCE & ENGINEERING SKILLS
Computer science & engineering skills is an ICT specialist skills area. The skilled professional has the ability to develop, operate and maintain ICT systems. The skills require computer software, hardware & networks skills, big data analysis & management, cloud platform services, etc.
7.) ONLINE RESEARCH SKILLS
Most 21st job tasks require some sorts of online research to accomplish. One needs to search for information online as a resource to get the job done.This involves basic online information management skills. Examples of online research tools are search engines in browsers like MS Internet Explorer, etc.
8.) ONLINE COLLABORATION SKILLS
Online collaboration is a means of sharing information online with co-workers and business partners. Web-based application software is a vital tool in sharing documents, other information online. Examples of online collaboration are video conferencing, instant messaging, gotomeeting, file sharing, etc.
9.) SOCIAL MEDIA MANAGEMENT SKILLS
With social media management skills, employees can maintain an individual, group, organization’s presence in social media for the purpose of marketing its product and services, interacting with people around the world, making friends and sharing ideas and information. Examples of social media network companies are Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Reddit, Youtube, etc.
GLOBAL ECONOMIC NEED OF ICT SKILLS
There is a growing need to produce information system proficient individuals as tool to bridge the current and widening digital divide but that hasn’t yielded satisfactory result yet thereby creating global demand for ICT skills.
To sustain ICT jobs in companies, research and development as well as production and use of smart, clean and green ICTs like in energy-efficiency in power generation, ICT skills in data science, analytics & management, database and Internet-based software applications, solutions, security and services are needed. Moreso, computer software engineering, computer programming, systems analysis and computer support, security networking skills are highly sort after around the world for the realization of ICT projects.
Anyone skilled in any of these areas is a hot cake as far ICT jobs are concerned.
DEVELOPING ICT SKILLS
ICT skills can develop through strengthening foundation skills, correlating ICT Skills and bridging digital divide and revising the influence of global media culture on consumption of ICT
STRENGTHENING FOUNDATION SKILLS FOR THE DEVELOPMENT OF ICT SKILLS
Foundation skills are basis for the development of ICT skills and digital literacy. Strengthening foundation skills across board country- or regional-wise through educational reform policies should make all students leave compulsory school education with satisfactory levels of foundation ICT skills – literacy and numeracy. Indeed, media literacy still largely depends on individuals’ levels of foundation skills but negates the existing influence of the media culture in that sociocultural milieu especially when little importance is attached to digital technologies and literacy in that environment.
CORRELATING INFORMATION & COMMUNICATION TECHNOLOGY (ICT) SKILLS
There is a high threshold of skills in green ICTs necessary in relation to research and development, deployment, maintenance and use of green technologies. In most cases, core technical ICT skills are not enough anymore, but correlating it with sector-specific or domain- specific skills such as management skills, environmental skills; generic and soft-skills such as communication skills assures more reliance.
DEVELOPING ICT SKILLS BY BRIDGING DIGITAL DIVIDE AND REVISING THE INFLUENCE OF GLOBAL MEDIA CULTURE ON CONSUMPTION OF ICT
ICTs have created a new realm of opportunity and there is need to expose as many individuals to the digital literacy as possible in order to bridge the digital divide.
Developing ICT content for specific purpose comprises of developing content knowledge, skills and abilities from Information System Literacy (Digital Literacy), Computer Science and Information Technology subject domains
Digital society of the 21st Century faces the pedagogical influence of global media culture on consumption of information & communication management (ICT) system especially among children and young people because they wouldn’t want interference of digital literacy in their cultural world of media entertainment or do away with certain attitudes they have learnt and informal information skills they acquired.
Developing ICT Skills to bridge digital divide and revise the influence of global media culture on consumption of ICT stipulates reorientation to change unfavourable media cultural practices and relatively high levels of experience and education and such are realizable if ICT resources are adequately provided.
Our information system age is characterised by rapid set up of modern ICT classrooms in schools and there is every tendency we will have more in future.
HOW TO BE PROFICIENT IN INFORMATION & COMMUNICATION TECHNOLOGY (ICT) SKILLS/COMPUTER SKILLS
Even though you have acquired basic knowledge, skills and abilities in ICT, your proficiency level will increase if you engage in the skills you have acquired through the following ways: practising the basic ICT knowledge, skills and abilities; use of audio-visual instructional materials; communicating and collaborating with more ICT-skilled personnel and attend ICT proficiency classes
1.) PRACTICE THE BASIC ICT KNOWLEDGE, SKILLS AND ABILITIES
You need to practice basic ICT skills you have acquired more often. If you wish to work better and faster with word document and internet, engage more often practicing with word processing software and internet browser like MS Internet Explorer.
2.) USE AUDIO-VISUAL INSTRUCTIONAL MATERIALS
You can watch free online tutorials on how to use ICT tools using audio-visual instructional materials. Youtube is a helpful video online resource available on the Internet. There are many others.
3.) COMMUNICATE AND COLLABORATE WITH ICT-SKILLED PERSONNEL
Endeavour to work with more skilled ICT-skilled users in different ICTs especially in the practical use of ICT hardware. Practicing more will make you gain more confidence in the use of ICT tools in your job.
4.) ATTEND ICT PROFICIENCY CLASSES
We gain more knowledge, skills and abilities and become proficient in the use of ICT tools & software by learning more competent and advanced courses. You may check out private ICT knowledge, skills and abilities acquisition centres that run classes on computer literacy in many local communities around for enrolment.
IMPORTANCE OF ICT
The importance of ICT represents general benefits of ICT in real sense.
ICTs reshape business models through fostering more interaction and cooperation between colleagues and customers at workplaces. This reduces physical work energy.
Importance of ICT is also clear in the use of internet. The internet is an information & communication service feature of the digital networking that leverages on certain general benefits of ICT. It is a source of information & educational resources for many subject areas like computer & data science, systems engineering, psychology, sports, music, etc. Internet is used to maintain online membership of various groups and associations for the purpose of development of one’s identity.
Information system management is an integral part of ICT. Two basic ICT tools of the information age – radio and television inform and entertain people. People use ICT for e-mailing, instant messaging, online chatting, gaming and trading, uploading and downloading audio-visual files and retrieving educational resources.
ICT incorporated in media culture represents a world of commercialization, information and entertainment.
Professionally, ICT aids in the design of processes, work and systems for the general benefits of man.
In educational technology, ICT can deliver quality teaching and learning; promote equitable access to education universally. It can also promote teachers’ professional development and more effective educational planning and management.
FUTURE OF ICT
Lessons in ICT knowledge, skills and abilities to raise potentials should represent active and authentic situation for the learner to possess relational understanding of the contextual presentation.
Having that assurance in ICT classrooms would shore up the dependency and value of ICT knowledge, skills and abilities and prompt learners to show desire and readiness to learn the subject area.
21st Century ICT classrooms in institutions of higher education have a pivotal role in providing and promoting ICTs and green ICTs related skills of the future generation after a decline was reported in Computer Science studies in many developing countries for over ten decades ago. Future of ICT knowledge, skills and abilities acquisition again depends on new academic programmes in information & computer sciences should they be developed by institutions of higher education to meet demand for green ICT solutions and services.
The ICT capability will be more enhanced in the classroom if it is properly integrated into the teaching and learning activities. So having an ICT classroom in promoting ICT in education is possible if more learners with undeniable access to ICT gadgets are included in the academic programmes.
The academic programmes would focus on impartation of ICT skills through computer system engineering, communications systems, engineering services systems, intelligent and robotic systems. Other advanced applications include software engineering, communication systems, engineering control systems and computer networking programmes.
Evidently, an effective ICT classroom can help in interpersonal knowledge-building through communication and collaboration thereby enhancing students’ learning potentials. It can also improve learner’s critical thinking skills, innovation skills and problem-solving ability.
Future of ICT strongly lies on governments’ and international organizations’ policy reform in promotion of and support for ICT development and usage.
Another is societal alignment of media culture with digital literacy in our 21st Century information system age.
EDUCATIONAL TECHNOLOGY (EDUCATION AND ICT)
Having discussed importance of ICT that highlights the general benefits of ICT and the future of ICT that enlightens on the prospects of ICT, it is now pertinent to discuss an emerging subject area of ICT – Educational Technology (Education and ICT).
Educational technology (Education and ICT) is a specialty in education born out of the application of information & communication technology in the field of education and the cross-disciplinary intersections of information & communication technology and education. It emerges from three subject areas – Information & Communication, Science and Education.
Educational technology refers to system approaches to educational practices.
It has two components. They are Information and Communication Technology in Education (ICT in Education) and Information and Communication Technology of Education (ICT of Education)
1.) INFORMATION AND COMMUNICATION TECHNOLOGY IN EDUCATION (ICT IN EDUCATION)
Information and communication technology in education is the use of hardware approach to extract information from system software for the purpose of teaching and learning. The hardware devices include pieces of instructional materials such as multimedia, computer graphics, among others. ICT in Education can simply be referred to as the use of ICT devices to improve the quality of education.
2.) INFORMATION AND COMMUNICATION TECHNOLOGY OF EDUCATION (ICT OF EDUCATION)
ICT of Education is the component of educational technology that requires the use of system software approach in educational enterprise to promote high quality education. It is concerned with the application of scientific procedures in educational management.