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Monday, March 08, 2010

The Flip Side - IT Disadvantages

Charlie writes:

This last term, I taught about 300 of the 500-member class "Introduction to Computers" at MUCG. One essay question asked the students to relate personal experiences, both positive and negative, with information technology.
What a wonderful way to gain insights into West African teens' use of information technology.

In this second post, I excerpt some of their self-reported negatives:

Because I am a business girl and at the same time a student a don't always go for lectures because lecture periods crush with my other business. Because of information technology I have access to lecture notes on net.
Information technology has introduced me to many friends which makes we waste much of my time charting with friends on net.
[most of the bandwidth going to the university is probably being used to post to facebook, I'd guess.]

The aspect of my life which has been impacted by information technology was lying. I lied to somebody through a cell phone which I didn't know the person was standing right behind me. The person called me through a cellphone and asked me where I am and I lied to him that I am doing something urgently for my father which was a lie. I became ashamed of myself when I saw the person behind me. The positive impact through this cell phone was that the person was able to reached me within a short time just like three (3) seconds. The negative is I lied to the person through the cell phone which I became ashamed of myself.

The negative impact of this facebook system has made me to lie about certain things about my personal life. This has become so because you would want to be in the range of people who use this system. Some of the lies include telling people your wrong age just to fit in and also send false pictures to be posted on the net.
[We have been trying to help a man from the USA locate a "Natasha" he found on the internet who claimed to live in Accra. Unfortunately, we had to conclude that it was another case of "sakawa," see below...]

I remember when my dad was abroad, USA to be precise, he saved lot of money becasue he knew my siblings and I were graduating from SHS to the university. But when we about to enter into the tertiary my dad called and said he has been duped by fraudsters and all his long-saved money was gone through the internet. This what information technology brought to us becasue of what we call "sakawa" my siblings and I had to spend two years at home before going to school. This is the negative part of it.

However, not everything about IT has turned out to be good, sometime back my dad's credit card number got into the hands of some fraudsters and they cleared out his accounts online, he ended up losing lots of money.

But with every great power comes a price and this price that I have to pay is the bombardment of pornographic pop-ups and malware infested sites which may cause damage to my computer so although I try to gain helpful information from the internet sometimes I see things that are negative to my health or damage my computer.

it has had an adverse effect also on my life when my friend nearly ended up making me an adult movie addict "introducing me into pornography" but with good advise I have been able to overcome this addiction and hope IT would only impact others in the positive way.

IT can also impact negative information to students. This can be done, when a student goes to the internet and visit a website that contains pornographic movies and pictures, the student might be aroused, therefore he/she might practice such act which might cause teenage pregnancy and early parenting.

The use of the internet also has its side effects in terms of increasing immoral lives side effects in terms of increasing immoral lives since one can go the internet and have access to ponographical films that at the world put him into practising them. This brings about increasement in rape cases and high rate of prostitution.

Even with the good aspect it has a negative one too and this by introducing machines into the various companies to replace human labour. With this some workers were dismissed and my mother was included. This made her unemployed and has affected my family economically. That is by introducing some information technology make some people unemployed.

As a result of Information technology a worker like me at the post office is not recieving customers because people sit in the house and deliver the necessary information.

It has tended to make me lazy because instead of doing the research myself, I rather go for the answer on the internet. Like this I am not able to experience for myself the first handedly the process and the fun obtained from carrying out researches.

There was also a time when I lost my mobile phone. I was very restless because I could not easily communicate with people afar. [Ghana has less than one landline phone per 100 population, but nearly 50 cellphones per 100, so the loss of a cellphone is a real problem!]

The use of cell phones is much more easier and fast, also, no matter how far the distance you always get to talk. In Ghana it is always not so because the reception is not good sometimes and it is also costly to get a good cell phone which is a disadvantage.

Although the ATM is the fastest way to withdraw money, people stand close to them, and as soon as you withdraw some money, they attack you.

But it is with this same machines that help to cure illness that has also brought about more injuries in hospitals. Some machines used for scanning and x-rays are known to have side effects of skin cancer. Also, this machines if not placed plugged properly could cause fire hazards and deep wounds by the machine dropping.

How differently would US college freshmen answer this question?

Friday, March 05, 2010

The Internet: "a cesspool of knowledge"

Charlie writes:

This last term, I taught about 300 of the 500-member class "Introduction to Computers" at MUCG. One essay question asked the students to relate personal experiences, both positive and negative, with information technology.
What a wonderful way to gain insights into West African teens' use of information technology.

I'll start with selected positive impacts in this post, their self-reported negatives will come next.

Information technology is the gateway to the world. One aspect of my life which has been impacted by information technology is accessing information or gaining information on the internet. This has helped me to gain more knowledge since the internet is basically a cesspool of knowledge. Years past people had to walk far distances to gain information through libraries but now there are electronic libraries which can be accessed from home.
[I just love that image - the internet as a cesspool of knowledge!]

At the top of the list, I.T. has helped me greatly on my English life. With the help of Information technology (IT) am not afraid to talk in public, because I have overcome the fear in pronouncing of words. With my student Encarta I now say byebye to spelling mistakes. My grammer was so bad. But with the help of IT I can now go to the level of even writhing novels, poems and articles which can also put some money in my pocket. With this out of the lot I say Information technology has helped me to become if not the best one of the best in the world.
[obviously, without the computer, spelling remains a challenge, "grammer", "writhing"]

Education has been a key area that IT has affected my life, with the use of information technology learning/studying has become more easier and more accessible to me because of the availability of the internet. Researching used to be a problem for students before me as my dad always tells me that "in your time you have all the facilities to succeed but we had to struggle."

With the help of the internet, I can get deeper meaning of my subjects of study with the sense that through the internet I get the meanings of topics I cannot get in books.

It has impacted me positively in terms of research. Gone where the days when I had to go to the library and pick over ten books just to get information on a particular subject. Now all I have to do is access the internet and all I have to do is type my question and all possible answers would be given to me and all I have to do is choose the answer that suits me.
[I can attest to this, as some of their earlier essays were cut-and-paste from Encarta or other web sites!]

The positive impact in my life is when I was looking for admission in MUCG, I was leaving far from the school. With the help of information technology I was able to get information from the net about MUCG. All that I was suppose to do before being admitted. Instead of picking car everyday to go to the school. Information technology has made me save money and time.

I gained my admission letter from my e-mail instead of travelling to my school for my admission letter.

Under communication, as a result of Information technology, I am able to make a phone call, recieve messages, browse and search for the meaning of words on my phone. There is no need for me to travel before I can send information to somebody.

In fact, information technology has brought about fun in everything that I do. I am very happy with IT. I am able to dial and save people's numbers everywhere I go.

Now I can surf the internet when ever I want to with the help of my laptop computer and a modem. I can download music, videos, chart with my parents outside Ghana and even buy stuff from other countries all all the net.
[Ghanaian English has nearly silent 'R' sounds, so mis-spellings like formerly vs. formally, or charting vs. chatting appear commonly.]

Information technology has over the years grown to gain by so many people living in different parts of the world. As I grew, I came to realize how information technology has improved my educational life. That is, my father has bought me a personal computer at home, a pendrive and even a laptop which I carry around almost everywhere I go. With these devices with internet connection, I can browse and search for information anytime I am given assignment from school. This has made research work extremely easy for me. With typing softwares installed on them, I practise typing during my leisure hours which has improved my typing speed. I also take lecture notes/slides from lecturers using my pendrive which is easier and faster. This any many more benefits are what has made my life better with the help of information technology.

I can now send my assignments to my lecturer through internet instead of going through all the stress in order to give him the assignment.

The introduction and use of cell phones, an example of information technology has had a great impact on my life. It has really saved me time and the stress of writing letters to long lost relatives. I always had to go through the stress of buying envelopes and postage stamps and then queing for long hours under the scortching sun to get my letter posted. Sometimes the letter doesn't even get to the recipient.
[We can relate, having just received some Christmas cards this week. Mary Kay received a birthday card one year after it was mailed from Texas! "Stress" is a common complaint of students here.]

Information technology has impacted greatly in the aspect of my health. With the impact of information technology in my health, it has made it possible for doctors to diagnose and cure illness easily. This is whereby information technology has made it possible to bring all sorts of machines used for surgeries, x-rays, scans, autopsy and many others. With the help of IT, people no more have the fear of loosing their lives or living with an incurable disease till your death.

I've made new friends and made up with old friends who now help me in my educational problems.

The ATM card has helped me alot espically in school. It has help me save time. Because I don't need to join in a long queue at the bank.

Before ATM's (Automated Teller Machines) were made available, I would have to queue up in the bank just to withdraw some money. This could sometimes take up my whole day. But since the introduction of the ATM, I'm able to withdraw money without joining a queue.
[This idea has shown up repeatedly in essays this year and prior years. When I questioned our driver about whether this is exaggerated, he denies that, saying that it did actually happen. He reports going early to the bank, then returning later in the day, picking up his place in line, as the Ghanaians watch out for each other!]

How differently would US college freshmen answer this question?