10. Technology Advances, Social Trends

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ISS-58 Progress MS-09 undocks from the Pirs DC
Technology is changing the society in which we live. There are many new and exciting innovations introduced each year to benefit the people of the world.

Learning outcomes

  • learn about work in progress and how it could impact the lives of millions
  • understand the importance of innovation and creative thinking
  • identify areas where technology is advancing
  • imagine technologies for future Tech Awards


  • innovation, technology advancement, smart materials, nano-technology, social media, smart...

Study notes

  • What are some of the new and exciting benefits that technology is bringing to society?
  • Is there a limit to the innovation in technology to benefit society?
  • Do we each have a role to play in ensuring that technology is used for good?
  • Are you aware of applications of technology that are causing serious problems? What is being done about these? How can you help?
  • What would be a great candidate for a future Tech Award?


  1. Before you start the reading and the assignments, take a few minutes to think about what you already know about the topic - Technology Advances, Social Trends . Write a sentence or two about this in the I know... discussion.

  2. Read the Study notes for an overview for the topics that will be covered.

  3. Read, view, listen to several selections in the Media list.

  4. This week we are going to be looking at the future of computers and society. From the selected media, or search the web to find a resource that suggests different outcomes or directions for computers and society. This could include anything from education and work to wearable computers. Find ONE (1) that you think is particularly interesting. Write 2-3 paragraphs about the social issues discussed and why these are important.
    Please provide a detailed analysis of the topic you select. What are the important points made? Is the author providing a balanced representation of the facts? Are the conclusions reasonable? Support your argument with examples. This should be in your own words. What do you think is important? What do you expect will result from the interactions between technology and society? Will it be good or bad? What do you hope will be the outcome? Post the web address of the resource selected, a description and your analysis in the Future of Technology and Society discussion topic.
    Review and comment on 3 others. What questions does this raise? Provide another viewpoint or add additional information. Your responses should be 2-3 sentences.

  5. More than just the facts - Find some interesting data related to technology and society. Why are these numbers interesting? Are they changing over time? How does this relate to the course? How is the quantitative information represented - text, chart, infographic? Does the presentation help make the message clearer? How might the data be misinterpreted? Post your facts, a link to the source, and your analysis to the Interesting Quantitative Facts discussion. Review and comment on 2 others.

  6. View the video Future of Technology (Apr 2009). The video is old but well done. Then view the video Did You Know 2021? (Jan 2021). There are lots of facts and figures in each to highlight what is happening with technology. But what is the "big picture" message they are trying to make? What are some questions that you have that will be statistics in the future? Find a resource with information on one or more of the "facts" presented in the video. Post a link to the source of your information update and a comment about what you see as the main message to the Future... video updates discussion forum. Read 2-3 other reviews and comment on their updates.

  7. The Tech for Global Good Awards honors individuals, non-profit organizations and for-profit companies who are using technology to significantly improve human conditions in 6 awards categories. The technology used can be either a new invention or an innovative use of an existing technology. Read through the information about the awards. Then visit the videos of recent winners and honorees. Which one do you think will impact the greatest number of people? How will people benefit? Post a link to the honoree or award winner and your reasons for making your selection to the discussion Tech Awards with social impact.

  8. WebXR - Virtual/Augmented Reality - Although it would be nice to have a special viewer, you can still see the videos in a regular browser from your computer or phone. You won't get the full effect, but you will get the idea. Access the WITHIN site and explore. WebXR is an open specification that makes it possible to experience WebXR - VR (Virtual Reality)/ AR (Augmented Reality) in your browser. The goal is to make it easier for everyone to get into WebXR experiences. Just use your computer or phone without a headset. You won’t be able to see in 3D or interact as fully in most example experiences, but you can still look around in 360 degrees. View several of the experiences. Select one and post a link and short summary of your experience. How was this different from a regular video? Have you ever used a VR viewer? Is WebXR going to change how we experience audio and visual content? Post your reply to the WebXR Experience discussion.

  9. New normal - Everyone has had to adapt to 'personal distancing'. Many businesses and services will be changed forever. XR - eXtended Reality - Augmented Reality (AR), Mixed Reality (MR) and Virtual Reality (VR) alternatives are being developed to replace in-person experiences. Shopping, spectator sports, live entertainment, school are a few. Find an example of eXtended Reality (XR / AR / MR / VR) - either currently available or that will be available soon. Include the link and a brief explanation of how you personally will be impacted by this development, and post to the New Normal - XR (eXtended Reality) discussion. Review and comment on 2 others.

  10. Why Do We Explore? From the time of our birth, humans have felt a primordial urge to explore -- to blaze new trails, map new lands, and answer profound questions about ourselves and our universe. Review 2-3 articles and assess the relationships between technology, innovation and exploration. Post a note and a link to a relevant article about the connections to the Exploration discussion.

  11. Select one of the discussion topics from any discussion in previous modules (modules 1-9). Read through the posts. In your own words, write a short summary of the important ideas discussed. Now that you have read the whole discussion, what questions do you have about the topic that were not answered? Try to give the reader one or two important points that are made in the discussion. Was there something new and interesting that came up in the discussion? Post your 2-3 sentence summary to Discussion Summaries discussion.

  12. Have you seen some new and exciting technology that we haven't talked about? Looking to technology today and beyond, there are new applications, new software tools and new directions in information technology. Select a web site that is an example of where we are going. Is there some new application that you and your friends or family have just started using? Is there new software that has been in the news as the hot new thing? Are there uses of technology that you would like to see? How will this have a big impact our lives and our use of technology? Post a link to the site and describe your selection in the What's new and important? discussion forum. Review 2-3 other posts and provide your thoughts on the technologies and applications highlighted.

  13. Review Collaboration and Group Projects and complete the Group Project preparation Quiz.

  14. Individual and Group Project - The "group project" is part individual work, followed by collaborative work. In addition to the individual work, start working on the group work part of the project. Your project group is your Project Groups Discussions group. Your grade will be based on your participation.
    The details are provided in Module 11. Final Projects. Use the Project template for your outline. The template is view only. Make a copy for your own group project.
    The Group Project is only one module but there is a lot of work to do. And you are working with several other people. This takes extra time and cooperation. Start NOW.

  15. Throughout the quarter, watch for news items about computers and society. For extra credit, post a link and a note about why you think that this news item is applicable to this class to the information to the X. News Item discussion.

  16. I wonder... revisited - Revisit your previous I wonder... assignments. Pick one topic to research more. Find at least one additional source of information that addresses your questions. Summarize your findings and post with the link to I wonder revisited discussion.
    ALSO submit to I wonder... 10 assignment.

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