Today we are going to look into the different uses and meaning of technology. lets see how technology has helped us in different ways below.
An overview of the general level of development of information technology in Nigeria and other parts of the world is also highlighted and it also examines the extent to which it is being used in support of information delivery and communication in science and technology.
Definition of Technology
What Is Technology? Technology is a body of knowledge devoted to creating tools, processing actions and the extracting of materials. The term ‘Technology” is wide, and everyone has their way of understanding its meaning.
We use technology to accomplish various tasks in our daily lives, in brief; we can describe technology as products and processes used to simplify our daily lives. We use technology to extend our abilities, making people the most crucial part of any technological system.
Technology is also an application of science used to solve problems. But it is vital to know that technology and science are different subjects which work hand-in-hand to accomplish specific tasks or solve problems.
We apply technology in almost everything we do in our daily lives; we use technology at work, we use technology for communication, transportation, learning, manufacturing, securing data, scaling businesses and so much more.
Technology is human knowledge which involves tools, materials, and systems. The application of technology typically results in products. If technology is well applied, it benefits humans, but the opposite is true, if used for malicious reasons.
Many businesses are using technology to stay competitive, they create new products and services using technology, and they also use technology to deliver those products and services to their customers on time and within budget.
A good example is mobile phones companies like Apple & Samsung, these mobile empires, use high-end technology to create new smartphones and other electronic devices to stay competitive. This competitive edge is gained through employing advanced technology.
Let’s look at a simple example of how people use technology on a daily basis.
Technology is dynamic; it keeps on improving because our needs and demands for technology keep on changing. We have moved from the industrial age (industrial revolution) to an information age.
During the industrial age, companies with large sums of capital had the potential of employing expensive technological tools to gain the competitive advantage; small businesses had less potential because they could not afford expensive manufacturing or processing technology tools.
However, advancement in technology has created a new economic environment which depends on information, and that is what we call the ‘’INFORMATION AGE’’.
The information age provides a different work environment, and this has helped small businesses gain position in highly competitive markets.
Let’s take a simple example and see how technology has advanced:
Types of Technology
We use technology to accomplish various tasks, so technology comes in different forms. Below I have listed some of the different types of technology we use on a daily basis and in each kind of technology I have included an example of that particular technology.
(1) Communication Technology
This is a system that uses technical means to transmit information or data from one place to another or from one person to another. Communication is a daily essential for all; it is used to convey ideas, exchange information, and express emotions.
Humans use communication technology tools like phones, computers, emails, fax or messaging tools to stay in touch with friends and family.
Businesses use communication technology tools to facilitate the flow of information in a workplace, to help in decision making, to serve customers needs and requests, to promote new products or services to targeted consumers and so much more.
(2) Construction Technology
This is the study of advanced methods and equipment used to build basic and advanced structures. One type includes buildings and heavy engineering structures like bridges. Construction methods use various technological products to erect a structure.
The use of construction technology tools like heavy tractors to prepare the land, computer-aided design software to create digital designs for structures in 2D and3D format. These tools along with many others help builders to efficiently complete a project on time, within budget and with minimum accidents.
(3) Assistive Technology
Assistive technology is used by people with disabilities to accomplish specific tasks that are difficult or impossible to perform. The term ”Assistive” means helping or providing an extra hand.
Assistive technology is being used in many ways, in schools it is used to help students with Autism to learn better, it is used to help people with disabled bodies move, additionally, with the use of speech recognition applications those who are unable to type are able to use a computer and so much more.
Due to advancement in technology, we have a variety of assistive technologies that assist many to accomplish tasks that may otherwise be considered impossible.
(4) Medical Technology
This is the type of technology which is used to extend and improve human life. Medical technology reduces patient’s pain and cares for an injury.
Developed countries have benefited from the use of medical technology in their healthcare systems, and this explains the reason why people in developed countries leave longer than people in developing countries.
Medical technology is used to diagnose infections, treat diseases and to research diseases affecting humans, etc..
(5) Information Technology
Information Technology is a set of hardware and software tools used to store, transfer and process information. Information technology tools help in providing the right people with the right information at the right time.
Knowledge workers in an organization use information technology to complete various tasks, and these can include; transferring of information which facilitates decision making within an organization, improve customer service, and so much more.
In this information age, it is imperative to manage information systems to ensure accuracy and efficiency. Management information systems (MIS) involves planning for, development, management, and use of information technology tools to help knowledge workers and people perform all tasks related to information processing and management.
Big financial institutions like banks use information technology to operate their entire businesses as well as serve their customers.
(6) Entertainment Technology
This use of technology to create an entertainment experience. Since entertainment is too broad, everyone gets entertained in their way. Technology is used to create video games, to develop musical systems and so much more.
Entertainment technology includes things like video, sound, animations, scenery fabrication, computer simulations, interactive environments and so much more.
(7) Business Technology
This is technology used to run a business and enhance various business operations, it normally consists of a combination of software and hardware. Many businesses are using technology to scale its growth.
Small businesses have used technology to create new ways of competing with well-established companies. To some extent, some business technologies can make a small company look like a big company, and this can help a small business gain position in a competitive market.
(8) Educational Technology
Education technology aims at improving a students performance by creating and managing various technological processes and resources in or out the classroom.
It is an academic discipline which prepares individuals to acquire deeper understanding and knowledge. It helps them learn how to devise solutions to problems through research, design, evaluation, and utilization. Educational technology helps in improving the way we learn, some of the benefits of educational technology include:
- – It motivates students and encourages individual learning.
- – Easy access to educational material
- – Helps students learn new subjects and languages through gamification
The Difference Between Technology and Science
Technology is not applied science, both technology and science are closely related, but they are different in so many ways.
Technology develops and explains the human-made world; it involves development, processing, and management;
While Science explains the natural world; science refers to systematic methodology used to gather accurate information about shared reality.
During the process of gathering this information, technological tools are used. For example, microscopes are biological tools which can be used to study specific facts about anything with life.
Scientific knowledge is gathered from detached observations. Scientists can use this gathered information using technological tools to explain why certain things happen and this all process can be described as research.
As humans, we use both technology and science together, that is why we confuse these two to be the same. Science is knowledge of the natural world while technology is human-made world determined by processing, development, and management.
A microscope for instance is a human-made technology designed to help scientists do research.
So that means that both concepts work hand in hand, but they are completely different. Humans have developed various technological tools to help us solve problems during our daily lives, but also this technology can affect the natural setup of our environment if misapplied.
Advantages and Disadvantage Of Technology
Technology is good because it simplifies the way we do things in our daily lives, however, if the technology is wrongly applied, it can be harmful in so many ways.
Technology is developed by humans, so we can use it to accomplish almost every task; it makes the impossible look possible. However, for you to understand the advantage and disadvantage of technology today, we can use an example in figure (4) below:
Advantages of Technology in Business
Increases production: Technology helps businesses automate most tasks and this process results in increased production and efficiency. Business can automate tasks in the accounting department by using accounting software like QuickBooks. Bakeries can automate the temperature room by using temperature sensors to detect a drop or an increase in temperature.
Technology Helps small business gain competitive advantage: If business technology is well implemented, it can help a small business gain position in a competitive market.
Technology accelerates innovation: The only way small businesses can succeed in today’s competitive world is by using technology to create new products or services.
It improves sharing of information: Many businesses use internal networks to facilitate the flow of information within the organization. This internal network can help in the transfer of information among different departments at work.
It improves on data storage: It is critical to keep business data secure because a disaster can strike your business and you lose all important information.
Technology simplifies business communication: Every business survives on communication; you need to communicate with your suppliers, business partners, and employees, so technology will make this all process simple.
Disadvantages of Technology in Business
It’s expensive: Technology comes at a price, not every small business can manage to use technology. After buying and integrating technology in business, you will have to pay another cost of maintaining that technology, monthly maintenance is recommended, and this can be expensive.
Not Safe: Technology is not safe; it is very easy to lose business data through internet technology. Hackers can easily access your remote database and use your business data for their own needs.
Social/ Workplace Disconnection: Over-dependence on technology has killed workplace relationships, employees and business managers communicate through email, phones, text messages and video conferences, this kills face-face communication.
Advantages of Technology in the Classroom
Technology Promotes individual learning: Students can use their iPads and internet to do personal research online and educate themselves. When a student is in control of what they learn, they will have no fear of making mistakes, and this will encourage them to explore more about a specific subject.
It Promotes Students engagement in the classroom: Since educational technologies like digital whiteboards are interactive, teachers can give students a chance to teach their fellow students using this interactive whiteboard.
Technology Helps students learn how to write and spell: The use of computers to take notes in the classroom has helped so many students learn how to write well-composed essays.
Technology Encourages group learning: The use of group sharing technologies like Piazza.com / Snagit / NoodleTools.com has helped shy students join discussion groups in the classroom without exposing their identities. Group discussions help students ask questions and learn more about a specific subject.
It prepares students for technical working environments: Students are taught how to use computers and various technological tools which can be of great benefit when they complete school and start applying for jobs.
Technology encourages risk-taking due to the challenges it presents: Technology is challenging to learn, and it presents students with puzzles to solve. During this process of solving academic puzzles, student’s brains become sharp, and they tend to get interested in taking more risks.
Technology assists students with disabilities: Assistive educational technology like iPads, Robots, Games can help students with diseases like Autism learn how to speak and write. Also, deaf students can easily communicate using mobile text messaging in the classroom, and this can increase their engagement in the classroom.
Technology bridges the gap between teachers and students: Teachers and students are using advanced educational technologies to connect more than before.
Technology simplifies teachers work: Teachers have found creative ways of making their work easier by using technology in the classroom.
Disadvantages of Technology in the Classroom
- Distraction in the classroom: Students love to use technology in the classroom, but it tends to distract them, for example, the use of mobile phones to study in the classroom, distracts some students.
- It is expensive: Schools with small budgets can not afford to integrate technology into their classrooms. Also, parents with limited income can not afford to buy laptops or iPads for their children.
- Requires Training: Both teachers and students need extra training on how to use various educational technologies, this can cost both time and money.
How To Solve Problems Using Technology
Technology is designed with a purpose of solving problems; it has to meet human needs and wants. We use technology in so many ways; at least everyone uses technology in one-way or another.
A problem exists when we encounter difficulty; problem-solving is human behavior, though our approach varies from person-to-person. During the process of solving a problem, the following is taken into consideration;
- Develop an understanding of the problem through observation.
- Devise a plan for solving that problem.
- Implementing the plan.
- Evaluating the plan.
- Technology will be used in all those four stages of problem-solving, however, for you to easily understand how to solve problems using technology, see image example below.
Look closely at the photo above, on the left we see the problem is the traffic jam in the city and on the right; you can see that one of the solutions of solving this traffic jam is by using high-speed electronic trains.
The problem was identified, and technology was used to plan the solution and implement that solution in the city. The use of high-speed electronic trains has reduced traffic jam in big cities like Newyork. Below I have listed four basic phases you need to know about when solving problems with technology.
Identifying a Technological Problem
During this stage, you will need to define the problem by explaining the situation that needs a technological solution and establishing the criteria that technological system or device has to meet. Then you have to gather information needed to begin developing solutions for the problem or situation.
Developing a solution
During this phase, you will need to develop possible solutions that can solve a given problem. You will test more than one solution until you refine the best solution to solve that problem permanently and meet the opportunity.
Evaluating the Solution
At this stage, you will be modeling the best solution through testing and evaluating all proposed solutions by use of graphics, statistics, and mathematical modeling techniques.
For you to select the best technological solution, you will need to compare the design solutions regarding economic, market, technical, production, and environmental criteria to determine the best solution to that particular problem.
Communicating the Solution
Now that you have evaluated all solutions, it is time to communicate the final solution to your team through graphical drawings, reports, and mathematical means. If you agree with your team, you can now go ahead and present the solution for approval from the management or government.
Judging from the four steps of solving a problem using technology, you will see that the technology we are using started with an idea of solving a problem or meeting an opportunity.
A person or a group of people saw the problem or the opportunity, and they designed solutions for meeting that problem or opportunity. Today we have various technologies which were designed to solve simple problems, for example, social networks like Facebook.com, twitter.com have solved communication and social interaction problem.
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