ICT (Information and Communication Technologies)

Information and Communication Technology (ICT) is a term which focuses on the use and integration of communication technologies in information technology (IT). ICT refers to any device or product which enables the "capturing, storing, transmitting and displaying data and information electronically." This includes the Internet and all computer hardware and software together with radio, digital television, wireless networks, cellular phones and satellite systems.

The use of information and communication technologies provides greater access to information and enables people from around the world to communicate in real-time via services like instant messaging, video and conference calls, voice over IP (VoIP), email and social networks. ICT also helps businesses, governments and different organizations to store, process and share information among each other with one click. Additionally, disadvantaged individuals have access to learning materials and education thanks to online schools and courses providing distance learning possibilities.

The term ICT was first used by Dennis Stevenson in a 1997 report about the role of IT in UK schools. He was appointed by the former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair to study the use of computers in schools when he noted that communication mediums and the Internet have a great influence on society as a whole. That is why Stevenson proposed to add the word communications to "information technology" and refer to the phenomenon as Information and Communication Technology rather than only IT.

ICT combines both traditional computer-based technologies and modern digital communication technologies. The former refers to standard Office applications like Word processing, desktop publishing, spreadsheets, database, presentation and graphics software. Traditional computer-based technologies include also professional applications for managing accounts, computer-aided design programs (CAD) and customer relations management software (CRM) to assist companies in conducting their business.

Digital communication is the process of storing, receiving and sharing information electronically. It is a result of merging of telephone and wireless networks with computer networks through cable or link systems. Information and data are exchanged with the help of transmission channels, wireless networks and satellite links. These connecting networks can be external and internal ones.

Internal networks, known as local area networks (LAN), connect a specific group of computers and other hardware devices in a limited area within an office building, a school or a home. They are used for sharing a common database, printers, scanners and other software applications and devices between the members of an organization or a business. All devices are connected to one processor or server which gives users the access to the same files and information. Most popular and frequently used LAN technologies are Ethernet cables and wireless LAN (Wi-Fi).

External networks, referred to as wide area networks (WAN), unlike LANs cover a large area of space like whole countries, states or provinces where they connect numerous local networks. The Internet which is "a vast network of networks" is the most popular WAN.

Information and communication technology is a broad subject and is divided in several research areas such as Information science and technologies, Telecommunications and Societal Aspects of ICT.

Information science and technologies field focuses on the technical part of the subject and covers the creation and development of hardware and software systems. Some of the subjects that are examined include software development and engineering, computer science, information management, advanced interfaces and embedded systems.

The telecommunications area explores the application and development of communication and information devices like antennas and transmission channels. Additionally, it focuses on wireless mobile communications and the Internet.

Societal aspects of ICT explore the impact of information and communication technologies on society and all the negative and positive sides of its use. After the introduction of ICT the world has become a "global village" connecting people, organizations and businesses all over the world and making them competitive on the international market. ICT also brings social benefits and access to information in disadvantaged and backward countries giving them new opportunities for development and promoting democracy. Information and communication technologies encourage social participation and social activity in the sustainable development process and benefit poor populations by providing them with opportunities for e-health and e-learning.

Despite the advantages that ICT bring to societies there are also negative aspects associated with their usage. These technologies are widely spread and more accessible to people in the developed world which leads to widening of the gap between the rich and the poor. In the current IT age there is a new division between the "information rich" and "information poor" countries across the world. Last but not least, the issue of information management and information security poses a serious threat to individuals, governments and businesses.

ICT (Information and Communication Technologies): Selected full-text books and articles

Closing the Digital Divide: Transforming Regional Economies and Communities with Information Technology
Stewart Marshall; Wallace Taylor; Xinghuo Yu.
Praeger, 2003
African Women and ICTs: Investigating Technology, Gender and Empowerment
Ineke Buskens; Anne Webb.
International Development Research Centre, 2009
From Envisioning to Designing E-Development: The Experience of Sri Lanka
Nagy K. Hanna.
World Bank, 2007
Beyond Broadband Access: Developing Data-Based Information Policy Strategies
Richard D. Taylor; Amit M. Schejter.
Fordham University Press, 2013
Investing toward an ICT4D Impact
Colle, Royal D.
Journal of Development Communication, Vol. 21, No. 2, December 2010
Information and Communication Technologies for Development: A Critical Perspective
Leye, Veva.
Global Governance, Vol. 15, No. 1, January-March 2009
PEER-REVIEWED PERIODICAL
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
An ICT-Hub Model for Rural Communities
Jacobs, S. J.; Herselman, Marlien E.
International Journal of Education and Development using Information and Communication Technology, Vol. 1, No. 3, October/November 2005
PEER-REVIEWED PERIODICAL
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
Information and Communication Technologies: Bugs in the Generational Ointment
McDaniel, Susan A.
Canadian Journal of Sociology, Vol. 27, No. 4, Fall 2002
PEER-REVIEWED PERIODICAL
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
ICT Strategy in an ICT User Perspective: Exploring Alignment between ICT Users and Managers
Fardal, Harald.
Issues in Informing Science & Information Technology, Vol. 4, Annual 2007
Facilitating the Use of ICT for Community Development through Collaborative Partnerships between Universities, Governments and Communities
Marshall, Stewart; Taylor, Wal.
International Journal of Education and Development using Information and Communication Technology, Vol. 1, No. 1, March/April 2005
PEER-REVIEWED PERIODICAL
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
Adoption and Usage of ICT in Developing Countries: Case of Ugandan Firms
Ssewanyana, Joseph; Busler, Michael.
International Journal of Education and Development using Information and Communication Technology, Vol. 3, No. 3, October 2007
PEER-REVIEWED PERIODICAL
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
ICT: Changing Education
Chris Abbott.
Routledge Falmer, 2001
ICT and Special Educational Needs: A Tool for Inclusion
Lani Florian; John Hegarty.
Open University Press, 2004
Access Denied in the Information Age
Stephen Lax.
Palgrave, 2001
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 3 "'Getting Our Hands on It': Gendered Inequality in Access to Information and Communications Technologies"
Curriculum, Plans, and Processes in Instructional Design: International Perspectives
Norbert M. Seel; Sanne Dijkstra.
Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 2004
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 10 "Information and Communication Technology: Transforming the Teaching Profession" and Part III "Delivery Systems, Information and Communication Technology, and Media in Education"
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