How Do I Use ICT at School and at Home? Essay Sample

How Do I Use ICT at School and at Home? Pages
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Introduction

In the modern environment, the average working adult uses many different forms of ICT. These numerous variations in ICT and its usage impact largely on their social, personal and professional lives. Some of the technology (such as a computer) is used in all three sections of their life, proving useful for work, social communication, and personal usage (such as photo editing).

In this investigation, my interviewee is going to be Ian Gibson, is aged 46. For the last nineteen years, he has worked as a financial advisor in financial services. He is self employed, and is a partner with the financial service firm “St James’ Place.” Previously to this, he has worked with Barclays bank. He regularly works from home, however he also works in the office and at various other places by arrangement from himself, his colleagues and his clients (e.g. he may meet with his clients at their houses). His relationship to me is as a father.

Table of his usage of ICT

This table clearly shows what forms of ICT my father uses and where he uses it:

Technology

ICT technology

Home personal

Home social

In work

Internet

E-mail

Emailing documents to himself (attachments)

Contacting friends and family

Contacting colleagues and clients and sending documents via attachments

www

Researching/browsing

Occasional use of social networking to contact friends on holiday

Research and communication (professional internet chat rooms)

Internet Technologies

Broadband

Internet browsing, email

Contacting friends and family via email

Browsing, email

Communication

Mobile phone

Storing and viewing photos, documents and games (known as apps)

Contacting friends and family, storing contact details, email

Communicating colleagues and clients; email.

Bluetooth

N/A

Exchanging media with friends and family

N/A

Entertainment

MP3/MP4 player

Storing/playing photos and music

Sharing and exchanging media

Rare usage on business conferences

Downloading

pictures, text, music and videos (sky on demand)

Pictures, music and videos

Email attachments, cut/paste in browser

Control and monitoring

Control heating system

Maintains a constant and comfortable temperature within buildings and vehicles.

N/A

Maintains a constant and comfortable temperature within buildings and vehicles.

Mobile

Laptop

Creating/editing/ viewing files, accessing the internet

Occasional social networking and email

Email and creating/ editing/ viewing files, accessing the internet.

Wi-Fi

Gaining internet access for browsing and emailing

Gaining internet access for emailing and occasional social networking

Gaining internet access for email and browsing.

Data capture

Digital camera

Enables the user to capture and basically edit photos, and also to output to TV and transfer to PC

Enables the user to capture and basically edit photos, and also to output to TV and transfer to PC

N/A

Access

Touch screen

Allows user to interface with sat-nav and mobile phone

Allows user to interface with his mobile phone

Allows user to interface with his mobile phone, sat-nav and other technologies

PC technology

Software

Allows user to interface with the computer and create, edit and view files.

Allows user to interface with the computer and create, edit and view files and internet

Allows user to interface with the computer and create, edit and view files and internet

Hardware

The physical components of technologies (e.g. keyboard, mouse, screen)

The physical components of technologies (e.g. keyboard, mouse, screen)

The physical components of technologies (e.g. keyboard, mouse, screen)

Storage media

DVD

Watching/storing videos and slideshows

Watching/storing videos and slideshows

Watching/storing videos and slideshows

CD

Listening/storing music and photos

Listening/storing music and photos

Listening/storing photos and data

Portable hard drive

Storage of documents and media; backup of computer system

N/A

Secure storage of documents and media; backup of computer system

SIM card

Allows user to activate phone to contact friends and family.

Allows user to activate phone to contact friends and family.

Allows user to activate phone to contact colleagues and clients.

Use of professional ICT

Professional ICT is the different used by adults either at work or in relation to their work. This technology can range from email to mobile phones. Like most forms of ICT, a wide variety of technology can be placed into this category.

The World Wide Web

For browsing the World Wide Web, my father uses the Microsoft Internet Explorer browser (version 7.0). Like many people, this software is used very frequently for research and email in his office, and also it is frequently used at home for extra research and to email documents and information to colleagues, clients and him.

The browser works extremely simply:

1. The information fed into it via the ADSL internet connection is read by the computer.

2. This data is displayed onscreen for the user to view.

The browser also comes with a suite of tools, such as book marking and history, which can be used to store and print WebPages. This diagram shows what the different tools do:

As you can see, Microsoft Internet Explorer has a wide variety of tools and abilities. These combine to create a browser with many functions compared to some of its rivals (such as Google Chrome.)

There are both advantages and disadvantages about how the World Wide Web is used and implemented at school:

Advantages

Disadvantages

Allows browsing/research on a variety of websites, thus being very useful for subject homework and class work.

The blocking system prevents me from entering many websites on the web. This blocking system is a legal requirement for the school, and is used to prevent students (and teachers) using/viewing inappropriate content (such as content containing nudity).

Internet explorer is the most widely used browser, which means that more people are familiar with its controls and usage.

Windows explorer is slower than competing browsers. This can make browsing take longer and be more boring

Being the most widely used browser, Windows Explorer is also the most widely supported. This means that the websites on the internet have almost 100% compatibility with the browser, unlike some less used browsers that may be slightly prone to not accepting data from the internet.

Windows explorer lacks the features that can be found in competing browsers and also is less secure than Opera and Firefox.

The firewall that is employed by the school means that data cannot be sent from email clients besides the schools own.

This technology meets my father’s needs extremely well. The software allows him to browse the World Wide Web at respectable speed and is easy to use; the only limitation of the system is that safety features and ‘fun’ features found in rival software are lacking. This means that if my father made use of another browser (such as Opera) he would be able to work with reduced risk of viruses and other internet induced problems; however, as mentioned previously, these browsers don’t offer as much compatibility with websites as Microsoft Internet Explorer. As a result of this, he and I agree that this software currently meets his needs better than any other rivals, however, this is largely because the other programs are so sparsely used in comparison. If they were used more commonly, there would be wider compatibility with more websites, thus other browsers (such as Firefox) may be considered superior.

The software and hardware to browse the internet costs many thousands of pounds. This covers the subscription (how many megabytes of data he can use per month) as well as the necessary, but not necessarily best programmes and hardware. All of the hardware and software at the office is paid by the company (St James’ place) that my Dad works with, and most of the equipment required to telework is also paid for. However, my Dad does contribute a dominant contribution of money towards his laptop and internet connection, as he prefers a more sophisticated and advanced setup than what is just adequate for his work. He also pays for additional software that is not mandatory for his job, however makes it easier and more efficient for him.

What impact does ICT have on my interviewee’s working patterns?

Throughout the years, ICT has developed vastly; a fact that has resulted in an enormous change in my Father’s working patterns. Generally, he now finds that he works more often per week as a result of these changes, as it is significantly easier for his boss, colleagues and clients to contact him compared to fifteen years ago when technology was not as developed.

These changes in ICT have also resulted in changes of where and when he is able to work. Although my Father has always teleworked, the hours he used to work from his house are now dwarfed by the proportion of his work he can now do at home. If ICT had not developed as it has, this would be impossible. When he works from home, he uses:

1. Email

2. Fax

3. Phone (mobile and home)

4. Video conferencing

5. Specialised professional internet chat rooms

All of these technologies not only make it easier, but actually possible for my father to work from home.

My interviewee stated in the interview that he enjoys working from home, as there are fewer interruptions than in a public workplace. However, while there may be fewer distractions from his work, there are many more distractions from his personal life due to communicative ICT. For example, often when he is at public events or relaxing with his family, he is forced back into his work due to his phone ringing. He says that this doesn’t bother him, as he considers it to be a part of his job. However, we both agreed that it would be preferable if this didn’t happen as often as it does; this would allow him to actually relax outside of work, and not constantly be doing his job even when free.

Use of ICT in home personal life

Home personal technologies are the technologies used as an individual, normally in isolation and not with others. The kind of technology in this category includes my father’s media player and online downloading. Furthermore, the technologies that are also used in other categories of ICT can also be used in this one; they are not necessarily segregated. For example, the internet browser is used by both for work and personal use.

MP3/MP4 music player

My father uses his Apple IPod Video 30 GB fairly often, using it for approximately 1.5 hours per week. Normally use it in a wide variety of locations: at home, in commuting, during execution of public duties (upkeep of the local village recreation ground) and away from home (such as on holiday). When it was new, the music player was worth approximately �195, however this is now less (about �155) due to the releases of newer and superior models. As you may anticipate, the device is primarily needed to listen to music; however it also is used to view/store photos and occasionally to watch videos (this is not very good due to its small 2.5″ screen). Sometimes, it is also used as a portable hard drive; however this cannot be used at work due to the lack of Itunes managing software that is required in order to use the iPod, and is not a requirement of the device due to ownership of a dedicated portable hard drive.

How does an MP3 player work?

The iPod is simple in its operation:

1. The 30gb integrated hard drive stores the files that are uploaded to it.

2. When selected, this data is sent to the processor within the player. This then decodes the format so that it can be played (the processor is only capable of decoding several formats such as MPEG-4 and MPEG2).

3. Following this, the decoded data is fed into the amplifier, which then plays the music through the 3.5mm headphone socket.

The iPod is extremely clean and simple in appearance, and is very intuitive to use:

The media player also has various pros and cons:

Pros

Cons

The iPod offers an extremely simple and intuitive UI (user interface).

The scroll wheel, although intuitive, can be inaccurate when scrolling lists and playing games.

The hard drive offers more storage than an equivalent flash unit for a cheaper price.

Flash memory, although more expensive and in lower capacities, offers improved speed, reliability and significantly more durability.

Being so common, vast amounts of accessories are easily available for the iPod. Cases, speaker docks and more can easily be found from almost all retailers, something competing Samsungs, Sonys, Cowons and other devices lack.

The iPod is crippled in that only several formats are supported. This is done to ensure that music is brought from ITunes and not other media marketplaces. People wishing to put other types of video and music will have to first convert into accepted formats (such as MPEG-4).

ITunes is extremely simple and intuitive to use. Unlike many competing media managing suites, ITunes automatically updates details such as artists, albums and Genres when new songs are downloaded. It also offers a vast online marketplace for various kinds of media. Competing marketplaces generally offer around 2 million songs; ITunes offers 6 million.

Although easy to use, ITunes is extremely limiting. Like the iPod, only several formats are accepted, thus media from other managers cannot be transferred without conversion. Also, the software can be slow compared to rivals. This problem is emphasised as iPods can only be used with this media manger, not other, perhaps more preferable ones. Finally, the online store, large as it is, is expensive compared to rivals and has songs that are encoded (thus only compatible with the iPod, not with other media devices).

This technology meets my Dad’s needs well, despite various negatives about the device.

As a music player it is crippled by its lack of supported formats and forced partnership with ITunes, however audio playback is good quality and the media manager makes it exceptionally easy to put new files onto the device. Also, for my father, the issue about this forced partnership and few formats is almost irrelevant as he only needs the supported formats, and ITunes is the preferable media manager due to its simple operation. Like most dedicated media players, the unit has a 3.5mm headphone jack, thus no adaptor is need in order to connect non standard earphones.

Newer models offer superior capacities and improved flash memories (such as the iPod classic and Samsung P3). Neither of these improvements would make a particular difference to my Dad however, as he is careful with his device, thus he has no need for the improved durability of the flash storage, and having only used 2 GB of storage, he again has no need for the 120 GB hard drive on offer in the iPod classic. However, the iPod touch does offer a significantly larger 3.5 inch screen. With this, his player would be much more effective for viewing videos and photos. Unfortunately, instead of coming in large 30 GB and 80 GB capacities like his iPod, the touch has capacities of just 8 GB, 16 GB and 32 GB. Due to the extra space videos require, it would be therefore be impractical to own an iPod touch; there simply would not be enough storage for photos and video, which would almost be the reason for the upgrade. Also, he already is the owner of an IPhone 3g, a device that is able to fulfil the same purposes as an IPod Touch. The only reason my father still uses his IPod instead is that he prefers two dedicated devices rather then one combined device. This is based purely on personal preference.

Use of ICT in home social

Home social technologies are the technologies that are used either with other people or to communicate and interact with other individuals. The technology in this category can range from Mobile Phones to digital cameras and online gaming, thus vast amounts of technology can be placed into this category. The technology in this category can also be placed into the other categories (e.g. email is used both socially and for work).

Mobile phone

My father’s phone is an Apple IPhone 3g. He needs it to communicate every day with friends, family, colleagues and clients, to occasionally be used as a camera, and occasionally use as a basic gaming device.

The phone is used almost every day to contact friends, family and working contacts. It can be used anytime during the day, and is used consistently throughout the entire year. The touch screen device is used in a wide variety of locations, ranging from his home and local restaurants to the other side of the world. One noticeable negative about the phone is that it often struggles to find reception, whereas my similarly priced LG KC910 Renoir is able to find reception in many more locations. Seeing as his most common and important use of the phone is to communicate with people, this is extremely strong negative. On a pay as you go basis, the IPhone retails for approximately �330, however my father feels that this price is justified by its features, appearance and execution. My Dad uses a contract instead of a pay as you go basis. This includes a �99 lump sum of money to pay for the handset followed by �35 per month to utilise unlimited texts, internet access and 600 minutes.

As mentioned, the phone is primarily used to communicate with contacts via text message, or more commonly voice call. Texting is made easy by the large 3.5 inch screen, and the phone has the ability to display a horizontal QWERTY keyboard. Unlike some competing phones, such as my Renoir, the screen on the IPhone uses capacitive touch technology instead of resistive. There are various advantages and disadvantages to this technology.

How does a phone work?

1. Mobile phones operate using cells (thus the American name cell phone). Each cell has a base station.

2. This base station reads the radio waves emitted from one phone and sends this signal to another partaking in the conversation.

3. It is the base station that sends and receives calls; your phone is used simply as the input and output. As you and your phone move between cells, your calls are transmitted from different base stations.

How does the phone meet the user’s needs?

Like all electronics, there are numerous pros and cons to the Apple IPhone:

Advantages

Disadvantages

The capacitive screen offers superior sensitivity than the resistive alternative. This is largely because the capacitive type senses electronic pulses from your body; however the resistive screen senses pressure. This means that unlike capacitive screens, resistive users are able to use fingernails, gloves and styluses to operate their device, thus accuracy and general usability is improved. However, these screens result in reduced clarity and contrast, and the mandatory plastic screens are less durable than glass. The IPhone uses the world’s first consumer multi-touch screen, which increases fluidity and ease of the interface, whilst creating many new opportunities for gaming.

The capacitive screen technology is more expensive (by about one third) than the equivalent resistive screen. Moreover, the screen is unable to sense pressure, thus usability is hampered by the forced use of fingertips and thumbs; fingernails cannot be used.

The phone offers a vast, almost unrivalled feature set. Its features range from Wi-Fi and HSDPA to remote computer access. Very few phones are on the market that offer such an extensive set of features, and even less are as user friendly while maintaining these many functions.

The phone can slow down and lag when more than several applications are running together and some buttons in the interface could be larger and more appealing. Generally however, the features are nicely implemented.

There is a vast market for third party development of the device. This means that new games, themes and applications are often created, commonly utilizing the integrated accelerometer sensor and patented multi-touch screen.

Battery life can vary significantly depending on usage – extensive use of Wi-Fi and the large screen in particular limit the already average battery life.

The user interface is fast, responsive and intuitive. It also offers a high amount of customisability, complete with widgets and movable icons.

The phone is below average compared to rivals at sensing and using reception. This significantly

The technology meets my Fathers needs well. Personally, he struggles to text using standard phone keypads, for which this phone is ideal. The accurate screen makes the QWERTY keyboard almost as quick to use as a normal keyboard; probably quicker than rival touch screen phones due to the (with the exception of the HTC Touch HD) segment leading screen size.

Although variable, battery life is generally respectable and will generally last a weekend as long as the Wi-Fi connection and large screen are moderated in usage. However, the mediocre phone reception means that the device is often left unable to fulfil its primary use; my father sometimes finds himself unable to make calls when I, with my Renoir, can.

Also, my father would like a more decent camera to take pictures with (his actual camera is much too large to bring with him everywhere he goes). The camera on this phone is extremely basic and mediocre compared to many rivals, such as the Samsung Omnia. On my phone for instance, the camera is superb and remains one of the only 8 megapixel touch screen phones. The contrast ratios are realistic, the pictures are crisp, and the image is respectable in low light conditions. The phone also comes with a basic photo editor which can further enhance the photos taken. None of these statements are true for the IPhone; it lacks flash, it lacks an editor, contrast is unrealistic, and photos (unlike those from my phone) are incomparable to those taken with an actual camera.

One final aspect my interviewee wanted from his phone was for it to be able to function as an occasional portable gaming device. This is the one aspect of his needs for which he found it almost perfect. Game sound through the speaker is crisp and adequately loud, and the various input methods (the multi-touch screen and the accelerometer) make the phone extremely intuitive and fun to use. However, the main strength of the phone from a gaming perspective is the Apple App store. Through this store, users are able to quickly and efficiently download many professional and user created games of various types. This feature remains unrivalled to other devices, and is still largely why this phone dominates the market.

If my interviewee were to purchase a replacement phone, it would likely be the new Apple IPhone 3GS. This revised model features a more powerful camera and processor, along with improved battery life, software and reception. All of these improvements result in a device that would meet his needs significantly better than the device that he currently owns.

Conclusion

To conclude, my father uses a wide variety of ICT socially, personally and professionally. Generally, these technologies are effective in meeting his needs; however all have drawbacks that mean rival technologies may be more effective:

* The internet is limited in its effectiveness because rival systems offer significantly improved feature sets, in terms of both safety and ease of use.

* The iPod video is mainly limited by its lack of accepted formats and its forced partnership to ITunes.

* The IPhone is limited by its poor reception and battery life.

However, all of these technologies remain effective at the tasks for which they are intended; although other technologies may be superior for secondary features (e.g. the LG Renoir offers an improved camera over the IPhone).

ICT has also had a tremendous impact on my father’s working patterns. Although he is now working more and has less free time as a result of this, he believes that this is just how technology has developed, and considers this a mandatory part of almost any job rather than a flaw with his own.

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