HOME
        TheInfoList






Information and communications technology (ICT) is an extensional term for information technology (IT) that stresses the role of unified communications[1] and the integration of telecommunications (telephone lines and wireless signals) and computers, as well as necessary enterprise software, middleware, storage and audiovisual systems, that enable users to access, store, transmit, and manipulate information.[2]

The term ICT is also used to refer to the convergence of audiovisual and telephone networks with computer networks through a single cabling or link system. There are large economic incentives to merge the telephone network with the computer network system using a single unified system of cabling, signal distribution, and management. ICT is an umbrella term that includes any communication device, encompassing radio, television, cell phones, computer and network hardware, satellite systems and so on, as well as the various services and appliances with them such as video conferencing and distance learning.[3]

ICT is a broad subject and the concepts are evolving.[4] It covers any product that will store, retrieve, manipulate, transmit, or receive information electronically in a digital form (e.g., personal computers, digital television, email, or robots). Theoretical differences between interpersonal-communication technologies and mass-communication technologies have been identified by the philosopher Piyush Mathur.[5] Skills Framework for the Information Age is one of many models for describing and managing competencies for ICT professionals for the 21st century.[6]

OLPC Laptops at school in Rwanda2

Despite the power of computers to enhance and reform teaching and learning practice

Information and Communication Technology can contribute to universal access to education, equity in education, the delivery of quality learning and teaching, teachers' professional development and more efficient education management, governance, and administration. UNESCO takes a holistic and comprehensive approach to promote ICT in education. Access, inclusion, and quality are among the main challenges they can address. The Organization's Intersectoral Platform for ICT in education focuses on these issues through the joint work of three of its sectors: Communication & Information, Education and Science.[25]

Despite the power of computers to enhance and reform teaching and learning practices, improper implementation is a widespread issue beyond the reach of increased funding and technological advances with little evidence that teachers and tutors are properly integrating ICT into everyday learning. Intrinsic barriers such as a belief in more traditional teaching practices and individual attitudes towards computers in education as well as the teachers own comfort with computers and their ability to use them all as result in varying effectiveness in the integration of ICT in the classroom. [26]

There is some evidence that, to be effective in education, ICT must be fully integrated into the pedagogy. Specifically, when teaching literacy and math, using ICT in combination with Writing to Learn [27][28] produces better results than traditional methods alone or ICT alone.[29]

Mobile learning for refugees

A conduit requires a connection to a supply line, which for ICT could be a telephone line or Internet line. Accessing the supply requires investment in the proper infrastructure from a commercial company or local government and recurring payments from the user once the line is set up. For this reason, conduits usually divide people based on their geographic locations. As a Pew Research Center poll reports, rural Americans

A conduit requires a connection to a supply line, which for ICT could be a telephone line or Internet line. Accessing the supply requires investment in the proper infrastructure from a commercial company or local government and recurring payments from the user once the line is set up. For this reason, conduits usually divide people based on their geographic locations. As a Pew Research Center poll reports, rural Americans are 12% less likely to have broadband access than other Americans, thereby making them less likely to own the devices.[42] Additionally, these costs can be prohibitive to lower-income families accessing ICTs. These difficulties have led to a shift toward mobile technology; fewer people are purchasing broadband connection and are instead relying on their smartphones for Internet access, which can be found for free at public places such as libraries.[43] Indeed, smartphones are on the rise, with 37% of Americans using smartphones as their primary medium for internet access[43] and 96% of Americans owning a smartphone[41].

Literacy

In 1981, Sylvia Scribner and Michael Cole studied a tribe in Liberia, the Vai people, that has its own local language. Since about half of those literate in Vai have never had formal schooling, Scribner and Cole were able to test more than 1,000 subjects to measure the mental capabilities of literates over non-literates.[44] This research, which they laid out in their book The Psychology of Literacy[44], allowed them to study whether the literacy divide exists at the individual level. Warschauer applied their literacy research to ICT literacy as part of his model of ICT access.

Scribner and Cole found no generalizable cognitive benefits from Vai literacy; instead, individual differences on cognitive tasks were due to other factors, like schooling or living environment[44]. The results suggested that there is “no single construct of literacy that divides people into two cognitive camps; [...] rather, there are gradations and types of literacies, with a range of benefits closely related to the specific functions of literacy practices.”[39] Furthermore, literacy and social development are intertwined, and the literacy divide does not exist on the individual level.

Warschauer draws on Scribner and Cole’s research to argue that ICT literacy functions similarly to literacy acquisition, as they both require resources rather

Scribner and Cole found no generalizable cognitive benefits from Vai literacy; instead, individual differences on cognitive tasks were due to other factors, like schooling or living environment[44]. The results suggested that there is “no single construct of literacy that divides people into two cognitive camps; [...] rather, there are gradations and types of literacies, with a range of benefits closely related to the specific functions of literacy practices.”[39] Furthermore, literacy and social development are intertwined, and the literacy divide does not exist on the individual level.

Warschauer draws on Scribner and Cole’s research to argue that ICT literacy functions similarly to literacy acquisition, as they both require resources rather than a narrow cognitive skill. Conclusions about literacy serve as the basis for a theory of the digital divide and ICT access, as detailed below:

<

There is not just one type of ICT access, but many types. The meaning and value of access varies in particular social contexts. Access exists in gradations rather than in a bipolar opposition. Computer and Internet use brings no automatic benefit outside of its particular functions. ICT use is a social practice, involving access to physical artifacts, content, skills, and social support. And acquisition of ICT access is a matter not only of education but also of power.[39]

Therefore, Warschauer concludes that access to ICT cannot rest on devices or conduits alone; it must also engage physical, digital, human, and social resources[39]. Each of these categories of resources have iterative relations with ICT use. If ICT is used well, it can promote these resources, but if it is used poorly, it can contribute to a cycle of underdevelopment and exclusion[44].