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Technology and Society
C. Effects Of Technology On The World Of Information And Knowledge

C. Effects of Technology on the World of Information and Knowledge

Human civilization owes its current form to a number of major revolutions in the capacity to communicate and pass along information. The genesis of writing, a technological development that began at least 3,000 years ago in ancient Mesopotamia, led to a flowering of commerce, mathematics, science, and learning (Neugebauer, 1969; Van De Mieroop, 1999). Another milestone was the invention of the modern printing press by Johannes Gutenberg in the 15th century, which made it possible for ideas to be passed along to many people at widely distributed locations and times. Inventions of the telephone, telegraph, radio, movies, television, and the Internet all extended communication and expression. These revolutions changed the world of information and knowledge, resulting in transformative effects on society.

Rapid advances in information and communication technologies during the latter half of the 20th and early 21st centuries are creating an Information Age revolution. These technologies have made possible the storage, organization, and manipulation of vast quantities of data, far beyond what was possible for a physical library, and have greatly facilitated access to the information by anyone, anywhere. Together these technologies are modifying the world of information and knowledge itself, with implications for individuals, organizations, and entire societies.

It is important for all citizens to understand the societal needs that led to the development of information and communication technologies and the effects, both positive and negative, of these technologies on the creation, extension, and use of knowledge and the expression of ideas. Students can acquire these insights and capabilities by taking courses in technology or simply through daily activities, such as studying the traditional subjects in school and pursuing personal interests at home. In other words, the process of using various technologies to access and interact with information and knowledge can yield valuable learning about the technology itself, and therefore contributes to students' technology and engineering literacy.

In contrast to the assessment targets later in this chapter under "Information and Communication Technology", which are concerned with student knowledge and use of various technologies, the assessment targets in this subarea emphasize the revolutionary consequences of the Information Age—the ways in which society affects what information and knowledge is available and how the availability of that information profoundly affects society.

Key principles in the area of Effects of Technology on the World of Information and Knowledge that all students can be expected to understand at increasing levels of sophistication are:

  • Information technology is evolving rapidly, enabling ever-increasing amounts of information and data to be stored, managed, enhanced, analyzed, and accessed through a wide array of devices in various media formats.
  • Information and Communication Technology (ICT) enables the creation and modification of information and knowledge products by remotely connected individuals and teams.
  • The emergence of intelligent information technologies and the development of sophisticated modeling and simulation capabilities are transforming the world of information and knowledge, with potentially profound effects on society.

Fourth-grade students should know that information technology provides access to vast amounts of information, that it can also be used to modify and display data, and that communication technologies make it possible to communicate across great distances using writing, voice, and images. They should be able to identify examples of positive and negative impacts of these tools. For example, students should be able to identify positive effects of being able to send data to others. They should also be able to identify negative effects such as hasty email responses.

Eighth-graders should be aware of the rapid progress in development of ICT, should know how information technologies can be used to analyze, display, and communicate data, and should be able to collaborate with other students to develop and modify a knowledge product. For example, students should understand that translation tools on personal communication devices permit collaboration with students from other countries on a school project, such as digital storytelling. Eighth-graders should also understand that problems can be caused by using digital information or video without verifying quality.

By 12th grade students should have a full grasp of the types of data, expertise, and knowledge available online and should be aware of intelligent information technologies and the uses of simulation and modeling. They should also understand the potential disadvantage of uncritical use of the technologies. For example, they should know that false information can spread rapidly through the Internet and that these falsehoods, once established, can be difficult to correct. Students should be aware that the ubiquitous use of information communication and dissemination affects governments, news, and other organizations as well as individuals, and they should understand the extent to which ICT has enabled a revolution in the world of knowledge.

C. Effects of Technology on the World of Information and Knowledge Goals

Fourth-graders should know that information, knowledge, and expertise can be accessed, collected, and shared by using information and communication technologies with positive and negative effects. Eighth-grade students should be able to critically weigh how information and communication technologies are rapidly evolving and changing the ways that people interact with information and each other. Twelfth-graders should know that sophisticated information and communication technologies have transformed the world of information and knowledge itself, with positive and negative implications for society.

Table 2.4 Effects of Technology on the World of Information and Knowledge assessment targets for grades 4, 8, and 12
Grade 4 Grade 8 Grade 12

Students know that:

T.4.8: Information technology provides access to vast stores of knowledge and information. This can result in positive and negative effects.

Students know that:

T.8.8: Information technologies are developing rapidly so that the amount of data that can be stored and made widely accessible is growing at a faster rate each year.

Students know that:

T.12.8: Information technology allows access to vast quantities of data, expertise, and knowledge through a wide array of devices and formats to answer questions, solve problems, and inform the decision-making process.

T.4.9: Information technologies can be used to modify and display data in various ways that can be helpful or deceptive.

T.8.9: Information technologies make it possible to analyze and interpret data, including text, images, and sound, in ways that are not possible with human senses alone. These uses may result in positive or negative impacts.

T.12.9: Information technologies such as artificial intelligence, image enhancement and analysis, and sophisticated computer modeling and simulation, create new types of information that may have profound effects on society. These new types of information must be evaluated carefully.

T.4.10: Communications technologies make it possible for people to communicate across large distances in writing, voice, and images.

T.8.10: The large range of personal and professional information technologies and communication devices allows for remote collaboration and rapid sharing of ideas unrestricted by geographic location.

T.12.10: The development of communication technologies that enable people to access vast quantities of information and publish their ideas globally has implications for governments, organizations, and individuals.

Students are able to:

T.4.11: Use information and communications technologies to access and interpret data and communicate with others.

Students are able to:

T.8.11: Use appropriate information and communication technologies to collaborate with others on the creation and modification of a knowledge product that can be accessed and used by other people.

Students are able to:

T.12.11: Give examples to illustrate the effects on society of the recording, distribution, and access to information and knowledge that have occurred in history, and discuss the effects of those revolutions on societal change.