Information Technology and Information Communication Technology
IT (Information Technology) refers to an entire industry that uses computers, networking, software and other equipment to manage information. Modern IT departments in large companies are equipped with computers, DBMS (Database Management Systems), servers and security mechanisms for storing, processing, retrieving and protecting information of the company. ICT (Information Communications Technology) is a term widely used in the context of education. Even though there is no universally accepted definition for ICT, it mainly refers to utilizing digital technologies such as computers, television, email, etc to help individuals or organizations to use information.
What is IT?
IT refers to an entire industry that uses computers, networking, software and other equipment to manage information. Generally, IT departments are responsible for storing, processing, retrieving and protecting digital information of the company. For achieving these tasks, they are equipped with computers, DBMS, servers and security mechanisms, etc. Professionals working in IT departments range from system administrators, database administrators to programmers, network engineers and IT managers.When executing a business, IT facilitates the business by providing four sets of core services. These core services are providing information, providing tools to improve productivity, business process automation and providing means to connect with customers. Currently, IT has become an essential part in business operations and has provided lot of job opportunities worldwide. Knowledge in IT has become essential to succeed in the workplace. Typically, IT professionals are responsible for a range of duties including simple tasks such as installing software to complex tasks such as designing and building networks and managing databases.
What is ICT?
As mentioned earlier, ICT is a term widely used in the context of education. Even though there is no universally accepted definition for ICT, it mainly refers to utilizing digital technologies such as computers, television, email, etc to help individuals or organizations to work with digital information. ICT can be seen as an extended synonym for IT. Therefore, ICT can be seen as an integration of IT with media broadcasting technologies, audio/ video processing and transmission and telephony. The term ICT first came in to picture in 1997 in a report prepared by Dennis Stevenson for the UK government. Recently, the term ICT has been used to refer to integrating telephone and audio/ visual networks with computer networks. This integration has provided large savings of costs due to the elimination of telephone networks.
What is the difference between IT and ICT?
IT refers to an entire industry that uses computers, networking, software and other equipment to manage information, whereas ICT can be seen as an integration of IT with media broadcasting technologies, audio/ video processing and transmission and telephony. Therefore, ICT can be seen as an extended acronym for IT. The term ICT is widely used in the context of education, whereas IT is a term widely used in the industry. In addition, recently, ICT is also used to refer to the integration of telephone and audio/ visual networks with computer networks. In simplest terms, ICT can be seen as the integration of information technology with communication technology.
Importance of ICT
The use of ICTs help improve the quality of education. ICTs can enhance the quality of education in several ways: by increasing learner motivation and engagement by facilitating the acquisition of basic skills, and by enhancing teacher training. ICTs are also transformational tools which, when used appropriately, can promote the shift to a learner-centered environment. Some of the uses of ICT are mentioned below:
1. Motivating to learn. ICTs such as videos, television and multimedia computer software that combine text, sound, and colorful, moving images can be used to provide challenging and authentic content that will engage the student in the learning process. Interactive radio likewise makes use of sound effects, songs, dramatizations, comic skits, and other performance conventions to compel the students to listen and become involved in the lessons being delivered.
2. Facilitating the acquisition of basic skills. The transmission of basic skills and concepts that are the foundation of higher order thinking skills and creativity can be facilitated by ICTs through drill and practice. Educational television programs such as Sesame Street use repetition and reinforcement to teach the alphabet, numbers, colors, shapes and other basic concepts.
3. Enhancing teacher training. ICTs have also been used to improve access to and the quality of teacher training. For example, At Indira Gandhi National Open University, satellite-based one-way video- and two-way audio-conferencing was held in 1996, supplemented by print-materials and recorded video, to train 910 primaryschool teachers and facilitators from 20 district training institutes in Karnataka State.
4. Finding out. Students can use ICT to find out information and to gain new knowledge in several ways. They may find out information by communicating with people elsewhere using email, such as students in a different school or even in a different country.
5. Processing knowledge: Students can use ICT as part of a creative process where they have to consider more carefully the information which they have about a given subject. They may need to carry out calculations (eg. by using Microsoft Excel), or to check grammar and spelling in a piece of writing (perhaps using Microsoft Word), or they may need to re-sequence a series of events (for example by re-ordering a series of Microsoft PowerPoint slides).
6. Sharing knowledge: Students can use ICT to present their work in a highly professional format. They can create documents and slideshows to demonstrate what they have learned, and then share this with other students, with their teacher, and even via email with people all around the world.
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.