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?