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Foundational Information


Information and Communications Technology

A brief overview of ICT.

Information and Communications Technology includes a wide range of hardware and software, and supportive knowledge and ideas.

A computer is a machine designed for the input, storage, processing, and retrieval of information. ICT includes of general purpose and limited purpose computers and computerized devices. It includes connectivity among the devices and with people. It includes:

  • Full range of hand held, restricted purpose computers that we call calculators.
  • Full range of general purpose and restricted purpose computers.
  • Connectivity
  • Software
  • Databases, including the Web. One way to think about a computer is that it a library storage device that can be specifically designed to aid in the storage, the manipulation, and the retrieval of information -- sort of an "automated" library; a library with some intelligence.
  • Information appliances. Embedded computers.
  • Handheld communication and computing devices, ranging from cell telephones to wireless telephone-palmtop computers.

Here are two really important aspects of ICT:

1. Effective Procedure (Can also be called a Procedure.)

An Effective Procedure is a detailed step-by-step set of instructions that can be mechanically interpreted and carried out by a specified agent, such as a computer and/or or automated equipment.

Procedural thinking includes developing, representing, testing, and debugging procedures, and using them to solve problems and accomplish tasks.

The concept of Effective Procedure lies at the very heart of the field of Computer and Information Science (Computer Science). Two points to make:

  1. An Effective Procedure may or may not accomplish its intended goal. (This is a place to insert the ideas of an algorithm versus a heuristic.)
  2. The theory and practice of developing, testing, and "proving" Effective Procedures is quite mathematical in nature.

For many years, we have been in a trend toward students learning less about the development and use of Effective Procedures, and of procedural thinking.

From a math education point of view, one of the things we want students to learn to do is to identify reoccurring and repetitious tasks that they are carrying out as they work to solve a mathematics problem or accomplish a mathematics task. The chances are that a calculator or a computer can be used to help automate this activity, doing it both faster and more accurately.

2. Human-Machine Interface

A "good" interface saves a lot of time and effort on the part of the learner/user.

We all understand the significance of the development of the graphical user interface (GUI) that includes the mouse.

We are just at the beginnings of routine use of voice and virtual reality as part of the human/machine interface.

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