The Effects of New Technology in Human Lives

New technology impacts our daily lives in every field, from the cars we drive, cell phones we use, computers and networks we access and power we consume! In fact humans have always been greatly affected with the developments in new technology. However, nowadays new information technology is a bit more complex with cloud computing, new methods of security and data encryption!

It’s a universal fact that new information technology not only benefits programmers, database managers, hardware engineers and network analysts but it also benefits the common user as well. New information technology was developed in 1940’s and 1950’s for the better working of military and universities.

There is a whole generation of kids now who are growing up not knowing what was before the internet and the cell phone. This new technology to the older generation is novice and unique in their lives. New science and technology offers breakthroughs in our life times and our children’s lifetimes that will significantly impact the world in which we live. It is believed that new medical science and technology will be able to cure cancer, HIV-AIDS and even the common cold! New medical technology is being continuously developed, from clinical trials for pharmaceuticals to robotics for complex surgery!

New science and technology may also one day lead to mainstream alternative fuel vehicles, space travel for civilians, virtual reality conferences, a worldwide network of personal wireless electronics, data-transmission at the speed of thought, reversal of global warming and too many other innovations to mention. Latest research in computer science is not limited to medical, business, gadget, IT, space, education, etc. But it will mean better health, more knowledge and more power at our finger-tips.

Some of the other hot topics in new research technology include environment and renewable energy, space science, electronics, stem-cell investigations and many others. All these developments in human lives is wholly credited to the amazing invention of computers! The computer application is used and acknowledged worldwide. New models of computers are emerging daily, having different features, unique shapes and attractive designs.

Whether a new or used computer, it occupies a prominent place in our lives. Used and cheap computers are available in the market for the benefits of students and professionals, working mothers or for home-based jobs, from businesses to medicine, from education to aviation, from government departments to the corporate trading world, these used computers and refurbished laptops are performing amazing tasks! Cheap computers and refurbished laptops are available at very affordable rates to help students and young professionals to pursue their career.

Business technology is developing everyday to help companies get an edge on their competition as well as bring more engaging products and services into the market place. But it must be realized that as new business technology will lead to more productivity, it will also create more competition.

New technology, in years past, may have been inventing the wheel, the telescope, the printing press or the first steam-driven car. But it cannot be denied that new technology has driven societies towards greater health, wealth, security and well-being!

Combine Language Learning and Technology to Explode Your Teaching and Learning Success

Are you looking to boost your English language teaching or learning skills to yet ever higher levels? Would you like to stimulate more interest in your language classes or break out of a slump or plateau? Combine the use of a variety of language learning techniques with continually developing technology to spur your successes. Here are some useful ideas and web sites to get you started.

BLOGS

A Web Log or Blog, is not unlike a dairy you keep online. You can write instructions, an essay or post any type of information you want. Graphics and images can be included to illustrate the written material. Sound and audio-visual files can also be placed into a blog for added impact. A teacher can post a reading or assignment where students can comment right online. No papers, no clutter and you can view it almost any time. Blogs are becoming easier to use and access and many sites allow you to set one up for free.

ONLINE VIDEO / AUDIO

Most professionals have an e-mail address or two. Your e-mail can now become a communicative tool between you and the learners. E-mail can now also include the use of images and sound or audio-visual clips, as well as the message text. Learners can send in assignments as attachments or pasted into the body of the e-mail. They can ask questions and receive timely feedback without waiting for the next class session. Teachers can send out instructions, updates or other information to learners individually, or as a group also without having to wait for the next scheduled class session.

No computer? No problem. In many parts of the world e-cafes are so cheap they’re actually a viable alternative that students can easily afford. Whole “communities” of young learners are based on hangouts at e-cafes in some cultures. Talk to your students about it. You might be surprised.

USE OF ONLINE RESOURCES for TEACHING / LEARNING

The use of online games, EFL practice sites student and teacher forums, communities and activities has exploded in recent months in many parts of the world. Virtual communities and online reference libraries now enable learners to problem-solve, research a paper or to more quickly complete assignments that formerly would have taken disproportionately large amounts of time to complete. For example, a few sites worth mentioning include:

o http://www.books.google.com/

A web site which offers free access to books that can be read on-screen

o http://www.universia.net.co

This is a site which has a lengthy listing of virtual libraries in almost any genre and connects more than 900 mostly Spanish language libraries

o http://www.redclara.net

This site interconnects an advanced academic network of Latin American libraries

o http://www.lablaa.org

This site allows you access and read a large number of its collected works online and contains exposition pages

o The official Project Gutenburg web site contains an extensive listing of literary works in English which have entered the Public Domain. It’s online at: [http://promo.net/pg/]

Try some of these useful ideas and web sites to get you started in combining the use of a variety of language learning techniques with continually developing technology to explode your English language teaching and learning successes. If you need to know more about using these or other new technologies to boost student interest and motivation making your English language teaching more effective, feel free to e-mail me at the address below with questions or comments.

The African University Librarian In The Information Age

INTRODUCTION

Since their inception, libraries have maintained their sovereignty as the main storage of knowledge in society. Today, novel information technologies equipped with the computer, telecommunications and optical media are seriously affecting libraries. ICTS, for short, is used here to include computer hardware, software and telecommunication equipment. It has been an indispensable tool and has great impact globally. Of all the diversified technologies of our time, progress in information and communication technology has no doubt had, and continues to have considerable influence on the global economy. It makes it possible to collect, process and transmit information at breathtaking speed and declining cost. It increases productivity, improves quality and efficiency in all types of services.

The impact is seen in diverse areas such as health-care, finance and banking, transportation, publishing and management. Information technology is already changing our lives in various ways. It facilitates communication irrespective of distance, relieves one of a great deal of hard, dirty and repetitive work and gives control over the natural environment. As Knopp (1984) realistically observed, the library is presently standing on a crossroad and must try to find a useful balance between the traditional library functions and methods, and the new challenges. The African university librarian will pay a tremendously high price in preserving traditional services and embracing the technological advances. This notwithstanding, it must be paid if the African librarian wants to interpose or remain the mediator between the user and information. It is the librarian’s role to ensure that the resulting use of computers and telecommunication and any other appropriate technology contributes in cost effective ways to the needs of scholarship and research since “he librarians have the expertise in acquiring materials in a variety of formats and make them accessible for a variety of purposes” (Simpson, 1984, p.38).

THE AFRICAN UNIVERSITY LIBRARIAN

Two programmes of the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA), the Universal Bibliographic Control (UBC) and the Universal Availability of Publications (UAP), have contributed immensely to a wide and easy access to print information. Something similar can be done to provide the same access to electronic information. African university librarians could take the legacy of the aforementioned programmes and tranpose them into a new vision for an electronic future.

At the second meeting of the Ad Hoc Committee on University Libraries held in Accra in 1999, the need to give priority to the improvement and the issues of access to the new information technologies were stressed. It was emphasized that university management structures must acknowledge the centrality of the library as a pedagogic tool (AAU, 199). Continuing education programmes for African libraries to facilitate reskilling, which meets the dynamic information environment, must be supported because there must be a concentration in training for technology regardless of the area of librarianship one specializes in. It is a truism that “librarians need to know how to access and filter what is on the web” (Rosenberg, 2000, p.15).

IMPLICATIONS OF INFORMATION TECHNOLOGIES

A school of thought forcefully argues that the advantages of information technology are double-edged. Technology too appears to have increased rather than decreased the woes of African university libraries in the provision of information. Special equipment is needed to access and to retrieve information that comes in electronic format. There are problems of storage and conservation even when the equipment is available. Technology can only be installed and utilized if adequate and sound funding supports it. It is incontrovertible that the most important factor worth investigating seriously is the economic side of the issue. In Sierra Leone, the university administration initially centrally budgeted about six percent for its college and institute libraries. Central funding however has been replaced by collegiate funding which is inadequate (Rosenberg, 1997). Management must acknowledge and support the centrality of its academic nerve centre and ensure the sustainability of the library programmes and services.

The development of systems for the organization of knowledge and information retrieval has reached a plateau, with names of fundamental system characteristics now adequately tried and tested. Nevertheless, news of the core concepts, the use of inverted files to aid in retrieval and the context in which many systems operate need constant revision. Researchers are pursuing a variety of approaches in their search for better systems, categorized into the following:

1. System design, where the general objective is to optimize the efficiency and effectiveness of the system, including storage and its retrieval speed; and

2. The human computer interface (human factor) where the objective is to improve the quality of interaction between the user and the computer so that the former can be more successful in extracting what they require.

THE NATIONAL GOVERNMENT

National governments should give more prominence to African university libraries in the area of provision of infrastructure and funding. It is a truism that the government of Sierra Leone like other African governments is seeking ways and means to curtail the amount of money spent on tertiary education (Duah, 1999). The New Educational Policy for Sierra Leone (1995) is committed, in principle, “to establish, equip, manage, maintain and develop an efficient library service in the capital, provisional towns and districts” (p.41). Until such a policy is implemented, the library system would go Rip Van Wrinkle. Information is a factor of production. Consequently, the institutions that acquire, organize, store, preserve in a manner that facilitates retrieval and provide it to potential users deserve government support and attention. The Ministry of Education in Ghana for instance launched several initiatives to enhance both computerization and access to the internet for educational institutions. The Educational Management Information System (EMIS) project was launched in October 1997 to provide internet services/access to educational administrators across the country.

CONCLUSION

In spite of the novel technology, the mission of the library will remain unchanged though the ways in which librarians fulfill this mission changes. African librarians must find a very useful balance between the conventional/traditional library functions and the methods of the new challenges in order to maintain their leadership role in the information age. The university library should consider operating an automated system that will be accessible to students, lecturers and the general public in order to support teaching, learning, research and extension services of the university. This system can be worked through collaborative efforts of all concerned.

LIST OF REFERENCES

AAU Newsletter (1999). The role of the university libraries in Africa, 5(2), pp.1-12.

Duah, V. (1999). The AAU and higher education in the next millennium. AAU Newsletter, 5(2), pp.1-2.

Knopp, W. (1984). The library in a technological world: problems and queries put forward by the client. IFLA Journal, 10(1), pp.57-62.

New Education Policy for Sierra Leone. Freetown: Department of Education.

Rosenberg, D. (1997). University libraries in Africa. London : International African Institute.

___________ (2000). Internet training for libraries. INASP Newsletter, 15, p.15.

Simpson, D. (1984). Advancing technology: the secondary impact on libraries and users. IFLA Journal, 10 (1), pp.43-48.