Digital devices are used in all aspects of our lives, and in all different workplaces. For example, in our personal lives and while at school we use digital devices to educate ourselves, to entertain ourselves and to socialise with friends and family.
In this lesson we’ll look at how digital devices are commonly used in our personal and school lives, these uses are:
- Education & Training
1. Education & Training
Digital devices have had major impacts on the way we learn, both inside and outside of the classroom.
Interactive Whiteboards are used by teachers in order to support teaching in front of a class. These interactive whiteboards are multifunctional devices. They display output on the screen but also take input as a teacher can use it as a touchscreen to write notes and input commands.
This is beneficial over using a traditional whiteboard as any notes taken on the board can be saved to a central location that can be accessed by students to use outside of the classroom. You can also more easily & neatly edit the notes taken and bring in content from other software applications.
Virtual Learning Environments
Virtual Learning Environments are also used in schools. This is like a website that allows teachers to upload resources to the site, such as presentations & worksheets so that they can share them with students.
This allows students to access their learning at home so they can prepare for lessons and exams. It also allows the students to submit work to their teacher for assessment, instant message teachers for help and take part in discussion forums with fellow students.
Other than uploading work to share with students, teachers can then mark any work submitted by students on the VLE so the students can access their feedback wherever they are.
One of the main areas we use digital devices to access education & training is through online learning websites, like KnowItAll Ninja. We can access these sites through the use of personal computers, or through mobile devices. This allows you to access visual content like videos & animation, as well as audio explanations of topics and terms.
A type of digital camera called a webcam is extremely popular in online learning too. Live training events are streamed over the internet using webcams and web conferencing software. An example of this is TED Talks.
Even when not streaming though, traditional digital video cameras capture teachers giving explanations and demonstrations of the skills being learnt, which can then be shared online through sites like YouTube.
What online learning websites do you know of? What skills can you develop on those sites?
Think of a skill you’d like to learn and see if you can learn it online. What digital devices will you need to access the learning?
Our personal lives have changed a lot thanks to digital devices. We use them for entertainment, doing our shopping, managing our finances and even to control our home appliances.
We use entertainment systems as well as personal computers and tablets to watch film & TV, listen to music & play video games.
In particular, internet streaming has changed the way we access tv, film & music, as we often no longer store the files on our own computer and instead play them straight off the internet. This has made accessing this media content cheaper and saves us on hard disk space. Digital media players are now often used to access streaming content on our television set.
Video game consoles are also a very popular home entertainment digital device that we use in our personal lives. This allows us to play games online with our friends without needing to be in the same location. We also play video games on mobile devices and personal computers too.
A drawback though is that this growth of digital content has also seen a rise of piracy, where tv, films, music & games are illegally transferred over the internet for free.
Online Shopping & Banking
Another major way we use digital technology is using personal computers & tablets for online shopping & online banking.
Online retail websites, like Amazon, allow us to purchase pretty much anything we can think of, often even being able to have the products delivered the same day. This is so popular that most high street shops also have an online retail website. You can even buy your groceries from the supermarket online.
Online banking allows us to manage our finances, including checking our bank statements and transferring money. We can do all this from our own home without ever needing to visit the bank. Mobile online banking has become so popular that most banks have a dedicated mobile app.
Online shopping and banking save us the time and money involved with travelling to the shops and our bank. It’s also extremely helpful for people who live in remote locations and for people with disabilities who would have difficulty in getting to the high street.
We now control many of our home appliances through the use of digital devices. Doing this is a major area of what we know as ‘ubiquitous computing’, or the ‘Internet of Things’.
An example of this is controlling our central heating system through the use of our smartphone. This allows us to turn the heating on or off without being at home. We’re also starting to see fridges that know when you’re running low on certain items like milk and can inform you to buy more on your smartphone.
This offers great convenience for us as it can automate many common daily routines, freeing us up to perform other tasks. It can also help to reduce costs and conserve energy, for example, you can turn your heating off when you’re not at home and only turn it on when you need it using a mobile app.
What technologies do you use in your personal life?
Create a list of the technologies you most commonly use and exactly what you use them for.
The way we socialise with others is perhaps one of the most obvious and significant ways that digital devices have changed our lives. The massive growth of online tools for communicating with our friends and family, like social networking sites, has made digital devices a fundamental part of keeping in touch with others.
We use personal computers and mobile devices all the time to access social networking sites like Facebook in order to socialise with our friends and family.
These sites allow us to create ‘Networks of Friends’ where the important people in our lives are able to see our views, opinions, life events & photos when we share them on these sites. We can even message people directly as most social networking sites have instant messaging features built in.
Social networking sites also allow you to create or join groups to talk to people with similar shared interests, such as a tv programme or a football team.
There are some drawbacks to social networking though. They can be seen as very distracting and time-consuming which can affect productivity in the workplace. Some believe it has reduced the amount of face-to-face interaction we have on a daily basis too.
Instant messaging software allows us to hold real-time text-based conversations with others. In many cases, this has replaced the older SMS text messaging we use on phones, with people using instant messaging apps like Whatsapp instead.
This is because these apps make messaging much cheaper as they are normally completely free to use. They also allow us to send group messages, such as holding a conversation with all our family members or a group of friends. Finally, it also allows us to attach files, such images, and hyperlinks to web pages.
Instant messaging is proprietary, meaning you need the person you are messaging with to have the same IM app as you. This can lock you into a type of device if the app isn’t available on other devices. Apple iMessage, for example, can only be used on Apple devices.
Voice over Internet Protocol is a type of software that allows you to have a real-time voice and video conversation. Skype is a popular example of this kind of software.
We commonly use a personal computer or mobile device to hold VoIP calls. However, many different entertainment devices, such as smart televisions and games consoles, can also use software like Skype.
This has become more and more popular as an alternative to traditional phone calls in recent years. This is due to its ability to have video along with voice, the ability to hold group conversations and it being much cheaper (most VoIP software is free to use). This makes it a particularly useful tool to keep in touch with family and friends living in other countries.
Do you use digital devices in your social life? What are the impacts of it on you? How has it improved your life and has there been any drawbacks?
So to summarise what we’ve learnt in this lesson:
- Education & Training uses of digital devices include interactive whiteboards, virtual learning environments & online learning websites. This has made education more easily accessible, even from home.
- Personal uses of digital devices include entertainment, online shopping and banking & home appliances. This has helped save us lots of time in our personal lives by automating tasks and saving us from having to travel as much.
- Social uses of digital devices include social networking sites, instant messaging & VoIP. This has made it much cheaper and easier to keep in touch with our friends and family.