CCNC/CCNC Module 1/ICT in Everyday Life/Subsection Level CCNC Template21
- 1 Corporate Application
- 2 Public Sector Applications
- 3 Health Sector Applications
- 4 Education Sector Applications
Corporations have to keep records of their staff, details of their clients, the levels of their stocks, production schedules, debtors, creditors and a myriad of other details. Many of these activities are themselves linked in one or more ways. For example, stock levels of raw materials and production schedules are very closely linked.
The ideal solution in a corporate environment is Enterprise software. This is a complex suite of applications that are created to work together. Enterprise software is designed to automate all the activities of an organisation in one system. The different components or modules interact with each other. For example, if production requires certain raw materials, the appropriate production module will send a message to the stock module that certain materials are needed and when they will be needed. If the stock module determines that existing levels are too low, it will send a message to another module responsible for orders. This module will then check which supplier to use and automatically generate an order stating the quantity needed and a deadline for delivery. Organisations do not buy an entire enterprise package, but only the modules that are relevant to the operation. Because of cost and complexity, enterprise software is usually found only in large organisations.
All organisations, no matter their size, can benefit from computer applications. Examples found in business include:
- Office application suites such as OpenOffice.org, Koffice, StarOffice or Microsoft Office for creating documents, spreadsheets and presentations.
- Accounting packages such as Pastel Accounting for keeping debtors and creditors records and creating statements and invoices.
- Inventory systems for keeping track of stock.
- Desktop publishing packages such as Microsoft Publisher and Page Maker for creating newsletters and press releases.
- Client tracking software such as Gold Mine for representatives to maintain regular contact with clients and record their activity.
- Airline bookings systems which manage large amounts of data and reservation details and also have the flexibility to handle frequent changes to bookings.
- Insurance claims systems to manage the processing and payment of claims.
- Online banking systems enable corporates and individuals to have easy access to funds transfer and account maintenance.
Public Sector Applications
The Department of Inland Revenue needs to keep records on millions of tax payers, both individual and corporate. It also needs to calculate the tax each has to pay and send out tax assessments. Sophisticated computer systems manage these tasks. SARS has a website that a taxpayer can register on and submit returns electronically by filling in the return online and authorising payment directly from their bank account.
National census and other demographic data
National economical and social planning require that governments have a good idea of the number of people in the country and in each region. They need to know income and health levels and size of families. They also need to know the skills and educational levels of different sections of the population.
This information is obtained by means of a national census. Part of this involves people filling in census forms and these being collected and checked by census officials. In other cases, figures are obtained by indirect methods such as aerial photographs. In all cases the data has to be analysed to produce summaries that planners can use. This task can only be done by specialised software designed for the purpose.
Other organisations also collect data for specific research purposes. For example, the Medical Research Council will conduct research to determine the prevalence of aids. This research relies on sophisticated statistical software to analyse the data.
Every vehicle has a unique registration number. This number, together with the vehicle and owner details is kept in a central database. This database can be accessed not only by the municipal officials, but also by other interested parties such as the police.
In order to vote, a person must be recorded on the voting register. This register of voters contains millions of records. Records need to be changed, deleted and added on a regular basis. Because of the sheer volume, it would be difficult to maintain in any other way than a computerised system.
This is a system that is being introduced which will allow voters to register their choice online to submit their ballot instead of the traditional method of marking a piece of paper with a pen.
National Identity System
The Department of Home Affairs keeps records of all the citizens in a country. It keeps records of births, marriages and deaths. It also issues identity documents and passports. All this is only possible through the use of computerised systems.
Health Sector Applications
Patient records need to record not only personal details such as name, address, relatives and employer, but most importantly detailed health history, record of operations and medication. The more efficiently this information can be stored and retrieved, the more efficiently the health care system can be administered.
Hospitals are extremely busy organisations which usually function amidst considerable stress. In order to use the facilities efficiently, where possible, activities need to be scheduled. For example, the availability or surgeons needs to be co-ordinated with the availability of operating rooms and the urgency of treatments. With good scheduling systems, much of the stress of the more routine activities can be reduced.
Ambulance control systems
By their very nature, ambulances do not work to a schedule. They are needed at unexpected places and unexpected times. The best a system can do is to optimise their use. That means knowing which ambulance is nearest to a scene at any given moment. In addition, modern software gives an ambulance driver details of the shortest route. The latest on-board software makes use of speech synthesis which actually tells the driver how to get to a destination as he is driving. This technology makes use of in-built maps and global positioning (GPS).
With diagnostic tools, a doctor feeds information about a patient symptoms into the system. The system will respond with a series of possible causes. It may ask for further information to refine the diagnosis. At the moment these tools are not replacing the diagnostic skills of a doctor, but rather help him/her explore alternative diagnoses.
Other diagnostic tools connect the patient directly to the computer. This is commonly used in the diagnosis of cardiac problems. Not only are all the different heart waves displayed on the screen, but the physician has the option of magnifying or analysing any of the patterns in more detail. They can also be stored and compared with the heart patterns at a later stage.
Specialised surgical equipment
A modern trend is towards less invasive surgery. This involves inserted catheters into different parts of the body. Through these miniature cameras and surgical instruments are placed. The output from the cameras are displayed on large screens. Other relevant data is also analysed and displayed on screens. All of the activities are assisted by special computer programs.
Education Sector Applications
Education institutions have electronic registration that allows students to be registered on the system first and then further information such as personal records and results as they progress through the course.
Student records keep personal details of students as well as their academic records and fees accounts. Where students have had disciplinary problems, these are also recorded. Some institutions offering health and accommodation services to students. All this information needs to be recorded on a centralised system that can be accessed according to the rights different users have. For example, although health data may be recorded on a centralised system, only health workers would have access to it.
The same student administration system would need to send out examination results and accounts.
The process of timetabling involves scheduling staff, students and lecture rooms at the same time. The scheduling also needs to take into account the correct total amount of time allocated to staff, students and courses. Further public holidays and term holidays need to be taken into account. The larger the organisation, the more complex the process becomes. Software programs are now available which can factor in all the different parameters and produce a timetable. This can still be fine-tuned manually.
Computer Based Training makes use of the computer to instruct students. The quality of CBT material varies widely. Some CBT material is little more than a text book on the screen, but other makes use of interaction or simulation to instruct. For example, if a student were learning word processing, a simulated version of the word processor would appear on-screen. The program would demonstrate how to perform a task by showing the activity of the cursor and the display of the menus. Most of this software produces an audible output so that the student is able to listen to a commentary on headphones as the activity is taking place on-screen.
Automated examinations allow computerised systems to test students skills. These are most relevant to knowledge based or skills based courses. Courses requiring critical analysis such as literature or philosophy are not suited to this type of testing.
Knowledge based courses can be tested using randomised multiple choice, true/false or similarly highly structured typed of questioning. If there is a sufficiently large test bank, students can be given a randomised set of questions. This would mean that no two students would get the same set of questions.
Skills based courses can be tested using a simulated environment. For example, a pilot could take a test on flying an aircraft by taking a test in a simulator. This would appear exactly like the inside of the cockpit. Instead of windows, there would be computer screens with a simulation of the outside. An examiner would control all aspects of the simulation from a computer. The pilot would be required to respond by actually “flying” the simulator. The computer in turn would be able to analyse the quality of the “flying”.
In distance learning, the student controls the learning environment: when and where to learn and how long to take over a course. Information technology can facilitate the whole process. The student can send assignments and questions to the lecturer using email and the lecturer can respond using email. An institution may put the courses on a web site that is password protected. A student either reads the coursework directly on the Internet or downloads it from the Internet. This has obvious cost and administrative savings for the institution.
It also means it can recruit students from all over the world. Registration and payment of fees can also be done on-line.
Homework using the Internet
The Internet contains enormous quantities of information. Some of this is excellent, some very poor and much incorrect. To access information on the Internet, a student makes use of a search engine such as Google. Feeding in a number of key words can result in a list of many thousands of sites being displayed. Each of these is represented by a hyperlink. This is a link to another site. When you click on a hyperlink, you are immediately taken to the site.
There are two important aspects to using the Internet to search for information to do assignments:
- The skilled use of a search engine: First you need to become familiar with the different ways of using keywords and the various criteria you can set. This comes with practice.
- Sifting the good from the bad: There is no control over the Internet. People can and do post deliberately incorrect or biased information on the Internet. You need to be able to assess the quality of what you read. For example, does the site give references to its sources or is the information corroborated by that on another independent site. Developing a critical mind in determining the quality of information is as important as being able to access information in the first place.