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The Importance of Telecommunications and Telecommunications Research

How important is telecommunications as an industry, and how important is


telecommunications research to the overall health of that industry? Underlying these questions
are several others. How important is telecommunications to the U.S. economy and society? To
what extent are U.S. consumers likely to benefit directly from telecommunications research in
terms of new products and services that enhance their lives or improve their effectiveness or
productivity? How much scope for innovation is there left in telecommunications, or has
telecommunications matured to the point that it is merely a commodity service or technology?
The core findings of this studywhich are supported throughout this reportare that the
telecommunications industry remains of crucial importance to the United States as a society,
that a strong telecommunications research capability continues to be essential to the health
and competitiveness of this U.S. industry internationally, and that the health of this industry
strongly affects the U.S. economy in many ways.
TELECOMMUNICATIONSAN EVOLVING DEFINITION

Before the emergence of the Internet and other data networks, telecommunications had a clear
meaning: the telephone (and earlier the telegraph) was an application of technology that
allowed people to communicate at a distance by voice (and earlier by encoded electronic
signals), and telephone service was provided by the public switched telephone network (PSTN).
Much of the U.S. network was owned and operated by American Telephone & Telegraph
(AT&T); the rest consisted of smaller independent companies, including some served by GTE.
Then in the 1960s, facsimile and data services were overlaid on the PSTN, adding the ability
to communicate documents and data at a distanceapplications still considered
telecommunications because they enabled new kinds of communication at a distance that were
also carried over the PSTN. More recently, of course, communication at a distance has ex-
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panded to include data transport, video conferencing, e-mail, instant messaging, Web
browsing, and various forms of distributed collaboration, enabled by transmission media that
have also expanded (from traditional copper wires) to include microwave, terrestrial wireless,
satellite, hybrid fiber/coaxial cable, and broadband fiber transport.
Today consumers think of telecommunications in terms of both products and services.
Starting with the Carterphone decision by the Federal Communications Commission in 1968,1 it
has become permissible and increasingly common for consumers to buy telecommunications
applications or equipment as products as well as services. For example, a customer-owned and
customer-installed WiFi local area network may be the first access link supporting a voice over
Internet Protocol (VoIP) service, and a consumer may purchase a VoIP software package and
install it on his or her personally owned and operated personal computer that connects to the
Internet via an Internet service provider.
The technologies used for telecommunications have changed greatly over the last 50 years.
Empowered by research into semiconductors and digital electronics in the telecommunications
industry, analog representations of voice, images, and video have been supplanted by digital
representations. The biggest consequence has been that all types of media can be represented
in the same basic form (i.e., as a stream of bits) and therefore handled uniformly within a
common infrastructure (most commonly as Internet Protocol, or IP, data streams).
Subsequently, circuit switching was supplemented by, and will likely ultimately be supplanted
by, packet switching. For example, telephony is now routinely carried at various places in the
network by the Internet (using VoIP) and cable networks. Just as the PSTN is within the scope of
telecommunications, so also is an Internet or cable TV network carrying a direct substitute
telephony application.
Perhaps the most fundamental change, both in terms of technology and its implications for
industry structure, has occurred in the architecture of telecommunications networks.
Architecture in this context refers to the functional description of the general structure of the
system as a whole and how the different parts of the system relate to each other. Previously
the PSTN, cable, and data networks coexisted as separately owned and operated networks
carrying different types of communications, although they often shared a common technology
base (such as point-to-point digital communications) and some facilities (e.g., high-speed digital
pipes shared by different networks).
How are the new networks different? First, they are integrated, meaning that all media be
they voice, audio, video, or dataare increasingly communicated over a single common
network. This integration offers economies of scope and scale in both capital expenditures and
operational costs, and also allows different media to be mixed within common applications. As
a result, both technology suppliers and service providers are increasingly in the business of
providing telecommunications in all media simultaneously rather than specializing in a
particular type such as voice, video, or data.
Second, the networks are built in layers, from the physical layer, which is concerned with the
mechanical, electrical and optical, and functional and procedural means for managing network
connections to the data, network, and transport layers, which are concerned with transferring
data, routing data across networks between addresses, and ensuring end-to-end
1 See 13 F.C.C.2d 420 (1968).

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connections and reliability of data transfer to the application layer, which is concerned with
providing a particular functionality using the network and with the interface to the user. 2
Both technology (equipment and software) suppliers and service providers tend to specialize
in one or two of these layers, each of which seeks to serve all applications and all media. As a
consequence, creating a new application may require the participation and cooperation of a set
of complementary layered capabilities. This structure results in a horizontal industry structure,
quite distinct from the vertically integrated industry structure of the Bell System era.
All these changes suggest a new definition of telecommunications: Telecommunications
is the suite of technologies, devices, equipment, facilities, networks, and applications that
support communication at a distance.
The range of telecommunications applications is broad and includes telephony and video
conferencing, facsimile, broadcast and interactive television, instant messaging, e-mail,
distributed collaboration, a host of Web- and Internet-based communication, and data
transmission.3 Of course many if not most software applications communicate across the
network in some fashion, even if it is for almost incidental purposes such as connecting to a
license server or downloading updates. Deciding what is and is not telecommunications is
always a judgment call. Applications of information technology range from those involving
almost no communication at all (word processing) to simple voice communications (telephony
in its purest and simplest form), with many gradations in between.
As supported by the horizontally homogeneous layered infrastructure, applications of various
sorts increasingly incorporate telecommunications as only one capability among many. For
example telephony, as it evolves into the Internet world, is beginning to offer a host of new
data-based features and integrates other elements of collaboration (e.g., visual material or
tools for collaborative authoring). Another important trend is machine-to-machine
communication at a distance, and so it cannot be assumed that telecommunications
applications exclusively involve people.
THE TELECOMMUNICATIONS INDUSTRY

Like telecommunications itself, the telecommunications industry is broader than it was in the
past. It encompasses multiple service providers, including telephone companies, cable system
operators, Internet service providers, wireless carriers, and satellite operators. The industry
today includes software-based applications with a communications emphasis and intermediate
layers of software incorporated into end-to-end communication services. It also includes
suppliers of telecommunications equipment and software products sold directly to consumers
and also to service providers, as well as the telecommunications service providers
2 The descriptions of layers were adapted from the Open Systems Interconnect Reference

Model (ISO 7498-1), which provides a useful tool for conceptualizing network layerssee
<http://standards.iso.org/ittf/PubliclyAvailableStandards/s020269_ISO_IEC_7498-
1_1994(E).zip>.
3 The term telecommunications takes on a particular significance with respect to the

Telecommunications Act of 1996 and implementing regulations. The broad definition


adopted here is intended solely to capture the scope of relevant research, not to make any
statement about what technologies and services should or should not be considered
telecommunications for regulatory purposes.
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themselves. It includes companies selling components or intellectual property predominately of
a communication flavor, including integrated circuit chip sets for cell phones and cable and
digital subscriber line (DSL) modems.
No longer a vertically integrated business, the telecommunications industry is enabled by a
complex value chain that includes vendors, service providers, and users. The
telecommunications value chain begins with building blocks such as semiconductor chips and
software. These components are, in turn, incorporated into equipment and facilities that are
purchased by service providers and users. The service providers then, in turn, build networks in
order to sell telecommunications services to end users. The end users include individuals
subscribing to services like telephony (landline and cellular) and broadband Internet access,
companies and organizations that contract for internal communications networks, and
companies and organizations that operate their own networks. Some major end-user
organizations also bypass service providers and buy, provision, and operate their own
equipment and software, like a corporate local area network (LAN) or a U.S. military battlefield
information system. Software suppliers participate at multiple points in the value chain, selling
directly not only to equipment vendors but also to service providers (e.g., operational support
systems) and to end users (e.g., various PC-based applications for communications using the
Internet).
An implication of defining telecommunications broadly is that every layer involved in
communication at a distance becomes, at least partially, part of the telecommunications
industry. The broad range and large number of companies that contribute to the
telecommunications industry are evident in the following list of examples:
Networking service providers across the Internet and the PSTN, wireless carriers,
and cable operators. Examples include AT&T, Comcast, Verizon, and DirecTV.
Communications equipment suppliers that are the primary suppliers to service
providers. Examples include Cisco, Lucent, and Motorola.
Networking equipment suppliers selling products to end-user organizations and
individuals. Examples include Ciscos Linksys division and Hewlett-Packard (local area
networking products).
Semiconductor manufacturers, especially those supplying system-on-a-chip
solutions for the telecommunications industry. Examples include Texas Instruments,
Qualcomm, Broadcom, and STMicroelectronics.
Suppliers of operating systems that include a networking stack. Microsoft is an
example.
Software suppliers, especially those selling infrastructure and applications
incorporating or based on real-time media. Examples include IBM, RealNetworks
(streaming media), and BEA (application servers).
Utility or on-demand service providers selling real-time communications-oriented
applications. Examples include AOL and Microsoft (instant messaging) and WebEx
(online meetings).
Consumer electronics suppliers with communications-oriented customer-
premises equipment and handheld appliances. Examples include Motorola and Nokia
(cell phones), Research in Motion (handheld e-mail appliances), Polycom
(videoconferencing terminals), Microsoft and Sony (networked video games), and
Panasonic (televisions).
What is striking about this list is how broad and inclusive it is. Even though many of these firms
do not specialize solely in telecommunications, it is now quite common for firms in the
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larger domain of information technology to offer telecommunications products or to
incorporate telecommunications capability into an increasing share of their products.
THE IMPORTANCE OF TELECOMMUNICATIONS

Telecommunications and Society


The societal importance of telecommunications is well accepted and broadly understood,
reflected in its near-ubiquitous penetration and use. Noted below are some of the key areas of
impact:
Telecommunications provides a technological foundation for societal
communications. Communication plays a central role in the fundamental operations of a
societyfrom business to government to families. In fact, communication among
people is the essence of what distinguishes an organization, community, or society from
a collection of individuals. Communicationfrom Web browsing to cell phone calling to
instant messaginghas become increasingly integrated into how we work, play, and
live.
Telecommunications enables participation and development.
Telecommunications plays an increasingly vital role in enabling the participation and
development of people in communities and nations disadvantaged by geography,
whether in rural areas in the United States or in developing nations in the global society
and economy.
Telecommunications provides vital infrastructure for national security. From
natural disaster recovery, to homeland security, to communication of vital intelligence,
to continued military superiority, telecommunications plays a pivotal role. When the
issue is countering an adversary, it is essential not only to preserve telecommunications
capability, but also to have a superior capability. There are potential risks associated
with a reliance on overseas sources for innovation, technologies, applications, and
services.
It is difficult to predict the future impact of telecommunications technologies, services, and
applications that have not yet been invented. For example, in the early days of research and
development into the Internet in the late 1960s, who could have foreseen the full impact of the
Internets widespread use today?
Telecommunications and the U.S. Economy
The telecommunications industry is a major direct contributor to U.S. economic activity. The
U.S. Census Bureau estimates that just over 3 percent of the U.S. gross domestic income (GDI)
in 2003 was from communications services (2.6 percent) and communications hardware (0.4
percent)categories that are narrower than the broad definition of telecommunications
offered above. At 3 percent, telecommunications thus represented more than a third of the
total fraction of GDI spent on information technology (IT; 7.9 percent of GDI) in 2003. In fact,
the fraction attributable to telecommunications is probably larger relative to that of IT than
these figures suggest, given that much of the GDI from IT hardware (particularly
semiconductors) could apply to any of several industries (computing, telecommunications,
media, and electronics, for example). If one assumes IT to be the sum of computers
(calculating), computers (wholesale), computers (retail), and software and services, the total
GDI for IT is
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$440 billion, compared to the total for telecommunications (communications hardware plus
communications services) of $335 billion, making telecommunications contribution to GDI just
under 80 percent of ITs contribution to GDI.4
The telecommunications-related industries are also a major employercommunications
services employed 1 million U.S. workers in 2002, representing 1.1 percent of the total private
workforce, and communications equipment companies employed nearly 250,000
people.5 Moreover, telecommunications is a high-tech sector, with many highly skilled
employees.
Telecommunications is a growth business. Although markedly reduced investment in some
parts of the sector (following the bubble years of the late 1990s) may have given an impression
of low growth in the long run, a longer-term view taking into account the need for humans and
machines to communicate suggests that telecommunications will continue to grow apace, as
evidenced by the ongoing expansion of wireless and broadband access services throughout the
world.
Telecommunications is also a key enabler of productivity across the U.S. economy and
society.6 Not only is telecommunications an industry in itself, but it also benefits nearly every
other industry. In the 1990s the U.S. GDP grew rapidly, and the U.S. economy was among the
strongest in the world. It is widely believed that the Internet economy played a significant role
in this success.
Today, however, new wireless applications, low-cost manufacturing innovations, and handset
design are some of the areas in which the Asian countries are outinvesting the United States in
R&D and are seeing resulting bottom-line impacts to their economies. For the United States to
compete in the global marketplaceacross industriesit needs the productivity that comes
from enhancements in telecommunications. If the telecommunications infrastructure in the
United States were to fall significantly behind that of the rest of the world, the global
competitiveness of all other U.S. industries would be affected. Conversely, the growth in U.S.
productivity has been based in part on a telecommunications infrastructure that is the most
advanced in the world.
U.S. leadership in telecommunications did not come by accidentsuccess at the physical,
network, and applications levels was made possible by the U.S. investment in decades of
research and the concomitant development of U.S. research leadership in communications-
related areas. Telecommunications has been and likely will continue to be an important
foundation for innovative new industries arising in the United States that use
telecommunications as a primary technological enabler and foundation. Recent examples of
innovative new businesses leveraging telecommunications include Yahoo!, Amazon, eBay, and
Google. Telecom-
4 GDI estimates for 2003 from U.S. Census Bureau, Statistical Abstract of the United States:

20042005 (124th Edition), Washington, D.C., Table 1116, p. 715, 2004, available online at
<http://www.census.gov/prod/2004pubs/04statab/infocomm.pdf>.
5 Data for 2002 from U.S. Census Bureau, Statistical Abstract of the United States: 2004

2005 (124th Edition), Washington, D.C., Table 1117, p. 715, 2004, available online at
<http://www.census.gov/prod/2004pubs/04statab/infocomm.pdf>.
6 For more on the relationship between information and communications technologies and

economic productivity, see, for example, Dale W. Jorgenson and Kevin J. Stiroh, Raising the
Speed Limit: U.S. Economic Growth in the Information Age, Brookings Papers on Economic
Activity, 20001, pp. 125-235, 2000; and Erik Brynjolfsson and Lorin M. Hitt, Beyond
Computation: Information Technology, Organizational Transformation and Business
Performance, Journal of Economic Perspectives, 14(4):45, Fall 2000.
Page 10
munications is also specifically a key enabler for other industries in which the United States has
important competitive advantages and a positive balance of trade, such as financial services
and entertainment (e.g., movies and music).
Finally, telecommunications is an important component of the broader IT industry, which is
sometimes viewed as having three technology legs:7processing (to transform or change
information), storage (to allow communication of information from one time to another), and
communications (to transmit information from one place to another). The boundaries between
these areas are not very distinct, but this decomposition helps illustrate the breadth of IT and
the role that telecommunications plays. Increasingly IT systems must incorporate all three
elements to different degrees,8 and it is increasingly common for companies in any sector of IT
to offer products with a communications component, and often with a communications
emphasis. The IT industrys overall strength depends on strength across communications,
processing, and storage as well as strength in all layers of technologyfrom the physical layer
(including communications hardware, microprocessors, and magnetic and optical storage), to
the software infrastructure layers (operating systems and Web services), to software
applications.
Telecommunications and Global Competitiveness
In this era of globalization, many companies are multinational, with operationsincluding
R&Dconducted across the globe. For example, IBM, HP, Qualcomm, and Microsoft all have
research facilities in other countries, and many European and Asian companies have research
laboratories in the United States. Increasing numbers of businesses compete globally. Every
company and every industry must assess the segments and niches in which it operates to
remain globally competitive.
Both Asian and European nations are continuing to pursue strategies that exploit perceived
U.S. weakness in telecommunications and telecommunications research as a way of improving
their competitiveness in telecommunications, as well as in information technology more
broadly. Leapfrogging the United States in telecommunications has, in the opinion of the
committee, been an explicit and stated strategy for a number of Asian (in broadband and
wireless) and European (in wireless) nations for the past decade, with notable success. These
efforts have aimed to stimulate the rapid penetration of physical-layer technologies for
residential access (broadband access, especially in Asia) and wireless and mobile access (cellular
networks, especially in Europe).
THE IMPORTANCE OF CONTINUING INVESTMENT IN TELECOMMUNICATIONSRESEARCH:
SUMMARY COMMENTS

Telecommunications research is best understood as a seed that germinates, developing into


lasting value for the U.S. economy. Figure 1.1 depicts the research ecosystem and the
7 D. Messerschmitt, Convergence of Computing and Telecommunications: What Are the

Implications Today? Proceedings of the IEEE, 84(8):1167-1186, 1996.


8 Computer Science and Telecommunications Board, National Research Council, Making IT

Better: Expanding Information Technology Research to Meet Societys Needs, National


Academy Press, Washington, D.C., 2000.
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FIGURE 1.1 Impact of telecommunications research.

benefits it enables, many of which are built up recursively over time as a result of interactions
among the various levels. The picture is, to be sure, simplifiedthe interactions between the
different elements are more complex than can be reasonably characterized by the diagram
but Figure 1.1 does provide a realistic view of the impacts of research.
Shown at the top of Figure 1.1 is the research enabled by available funding. Level 1 shows
the direct results: Researchers conduct exploratory studies, achieving
technical breakthroughs and developing their expertise and their basic understanding of the
areas studied. Talent is thus nurtured that will be expressed in the future in industry and
academia. None of these results of research can be characterized as end benefits. Rather, the
development of talent and the achievement of breakthroughs build a capability for later
revolutionary advances.
At Level 2 the benefits of research begin to become evident. Researchers collaborate, and
individual insights and results begin to fit together. The university talent generated in Level 1
develops competencenot simply low-level job skills that can be easily transported anywhere,
but rather the next-generation expertise needed to ensure a skilled U.S. telecommunications
workforce. The United States has access to this skilled workforce first and can thus benefit
directly from the talent and knowledge base generated in Level 1 that are fundamental to
continuing technological advances and being able to perform in the best future jobs.
Also at Level 2 comes the maturing of fundamental breakthroughs and their transition to
usable, deployable technology for next-generation telecommunication systems and the
development of roadmaps to help guide research investments.
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The major benefits to the economy obtained at Level 3 are the coalescence of Level 1 and 2
elements. Skilled workers, a competence to understand the new technology, the availability of
the technology, and shared goals are the ingredients required to create a healthy
telecommunications industry and, more broadly, a capable telecommunications infrastructure.
Interestingly, not all of the research performed affects telecommunications alone. Because
telecommunications touches multiple industries, the technology base it provides also often
enables the creation of entirely new industries. The success of the iPod and other portable
digital music players, for example, rests in part on earlier telecommunications-inspired work on
how to compress audio for efficient transmission over limited-bandwidth channels.
At Level 4, an indirect benefit of research is a telecommunications infrastructure that
provides advantages to all industries that use telecommunications. There are also end-user or
consumer benefits that accrue to having an outstanding infrastructure, such as enhanced
education, entertainment, and personal convenience. Finally, new companies also emerge from
these new industries.
Level 5 aggregates the key benefits of research in broad areas of national concern.
Concerning economic impact, the strong telecommunications industry, new spin-off industries,
and more competitive industries (across the board) result in a higher GDP for the country, as
well as job creation. Technological leadership and economic strength also help ensure strong
leadership and capability in national defense and homeland security.
The full benefits of the process depicted in Figure 1.1 develop over an extended period of
time, with a long-term buildup over several years between the seed investments in research
and realization of the ultimate bottom-line benefits. Each step takes time: from innovation to
mass deployment and impact. Investments by both government and industry in research by
academia and industry lead to both short- and long-term contributions.
Over the years, CSTB studies have documented this phenomenon across multiple areas of
information technology and telecommunications research. In particular, its 1995
report Evolving the High Performance Computing and Communications Initiative to Support the
Nations Information Infrastructure9and a 2003 update10 illustrate how long-term investments
in research across academia and industry have led to the creation of many new, important U.S.
industry segments with revenues that came to exceed $1 billion.
In closing, it is worth noting the perils of losing leadership in telecommunications. Because of
the time lag, the nation may continue to exhibit leadership at Levels 4 and 5 (and possibly Level
3) even as it is failing to renew capability at Levels 1 and 2. Since Levels 3 through 5 are most
visible to policy makers and the public, there is a potential to perceive the situation as less dire
than it really is. If Levels 1 and 2 are left to atrophy, serious problems will occur at Levels 3
through 5. If that happens, then recovery will take a long timeor even prove impossible.
9 Computer Science and Telecommunications Board, National Research Council, Evolving the

High Performance Computing and Communications Initiative to Support the Nations


Information Infrastructure, National Academy Press, Washington, D.C., 1995.
10 Computer Science and Telecommunications Board, National Research Council, Innovation in

Information Technology, The National Academies Press, Washington, D.C., 2003.


the benefits of ICT (Information and Communications Technology) in book-keeping and
accounting

Advancement in technology has affected the way things are done in various domains.
Accounting is no exception. The traditional books are being replaced by computers. Accounting
staff are required to be computer literate and spend more time in front of a computer screen
than writing on papers and in books. This is because information and communications
technology brings lots of benefits to accounting, among which are:

Accuracy

Computers perform calculations without errors irrespective of such calculations being simple or
extremely complex. However, care should be observed to input the right information. Else,
garbage in will result in garbage out.

Speed of processing information

Apart from being accurate, computers have the ability to process huge volumes of data very
rapidly. Reports such as account balances, control accounts, trial balance, income statement
and balance sheet can be obtained at few clicks. Also, reports can be processed in different
formats to suit the needs of the users.

Ability to process high volumes of information

Computers have the ability to do the jobs that would require several workers had a manual
system been used. Examples include preparation of control accounts, financial statements and
preparing payroll. It only requires the right software to be used.

Performing reconciliations

Accounting software allows reconciliations to be performed automatically and rapidly. These


include reconciling cash book balance with balance on bank statement and reconciling control
account balances with balances from sales ledger and purchases ledger.

Ease and capacity of information storage

Computers provide virtually unlimited space for storing data on discs (hard disks, servers,
removable disks and even on the internet). These require very little space and may retain
information for years. Besides, information can be safeguarded by making backups (keeping
same information on different disks). Using computers reduces considerably the use of filing
cabinets.

Security

Information on computers are considered to be safe. This is because access to information can
be restricted by using passwords. Also, in some accounting software which allows multi-users, it
is easy to trace which user has performed what transaction. This reduces the risk of fraud.

BANKING

The article presents a study which aims to analyze the role of information technology (IT) in the
banking industry. Technological innovations have enabled the industry to open up efficient
delivery channels. IT has helped the banking industry to deal with the challenges the new
economy poses. Technology is also changing the supervisory and regulatory landscape. It is
creating new tools for supervisors and new supervisory challenges. Technology-driven issues
such as privacy and the nature of electronic communications have reached the forefront of the
policy agenda. And the line between electronic banking and electronic commerce is becoming
more difficult to define clearly. More than most other industries, financial institutions rely on
gathering, processing, analyzing, and providing information in order to meet the needs of
customers. Given the importance of information in banking, it is not surprising that banks were
among the earliest adopters of automated information processing technology.

Importance of using ICT in Mathematics

Development in technology has a growing impact on education and school, and it will probably
continue to be integrated into school learning and practice. This makes it crucial to identify the
several ways in which one can use technology such as computers and related technology in
class. It is also important to understand the impact of using technology in education, as well as
why it is advisable to use it. Notably, there is a strong connection between Mathematics and
technology; thus, it is crucial to understand how ICT affects learning Mathematics at the
secondary level.
The inclusion of ICT in learning Mathematics leads to new qualitative aspects. ICT is a crucial
tool that teachers can use in teaching powerful and critical Mathematical concepts (Sang,
Valcke, van Braak, and Tondeur, 2010, p.103). This would enable learners to get insight and
proper comprehension of the concepts and apply them in problem-solving. However, a critical
concern that arises is the manner in which these functions can be used and sustained in
teaching and learning secondary school Mathematics. It is also important to identify some of
the organizing matters, obstacles, goals to be obtained, and performance indicators of
achieving particular educational goals.
It is also notable that development in almost all aspects of life depends on efficient knowledge
of Mathematics and science. There is no meaningful and significant development that can be
realized in any area of life without proper knowledge and skills in Mathematics and science
(Barkatsas, Kasimatis, and Gialamas, 2009, pp.562-570). As such, countries that are focused on
attaining growth and development have laid emphasis on effective teaching and learning of
Mathematics.
In the educational systems of most countries, Mathematics is one of the compulsory subjects at
all levels during the learners pre-university education. The importance of Mathematics
prompts governments to ensure that the knowledge and skills provided in Mathematics are of
high quality (Hayes, 2007, p. 385). Additionally, the primary rationale for the Mathematics
syllabus in most countries is based on achieving one goal; enabling all young learners and
citizens of the country to gain Mathematical insights, skills, values, and attitudes that they can
apply in their preferred careers as well as problem-solving in their daily lives. Most curriculums
have also developed a new syllabus to ensure that the skills taught meet the standards at the
global level.
It is also notable that the Mathematics syllabus taught at the senior high school in all countries
builds on the competencies and knowledge that were developed and acquired during ones
junior high school level (Hennessy et al., 2007, pp.138). At the senior high school level, the
learner is expected to develop Mathematical skills that would enable them to use their
knowledge in solving problems faced in real-life. Such skills should also enable them to
undertake further studies and vocations that involve science, Mathematics, industry,
commerce, and other professions. This highlights the reason as to why teaching math should be
done in the best way possible and using the best tools available.
Unfortunately, despite the efforts that most governments make, Mathematics has not yet
undergone any significant change in the manner in which it is taught and presented (Chai, Koh,
Tsai, and Tan, 2011, pp.1184-1193). This is evident due to low performance and low
achievement levels in Mathematics among most learners at both the junior high school and
senior high school levels. Based on results from studies conducted in different countries, failure
in math has registered a high rate in both levels of education. Such poor performance hinders
learners from pursuing further studies in subjects that involve Mathematics.
Teachers also have a role to play in the performance of learners in Mathematics. This is because
the mode of teaching and delivery of content determines whether or not the students
comprehend the concept taught. In most educational systems, the mode of teaching
Mathematics is teacher-centered (Prestridge, 2012, pp.449-458). In less developed countries,
teaching and delivery are conducted through transmittal techniques such as chalk and talk and
dominated by teacher talk. This means that students are entirely dependent on their teachers.
This teaching approach is also characterized by its feature of confining students to use
formulaic algorithms. Unfortunately, they rarely internalize and gain deeper insight into the
concepts that they are learning in their Mathematics lessons (Kolikant, 2010, p.1384). However,
teachers should not be blamed for such cases and approaches used; they were taught using the
same approaches and that they are confined to using the same strategies. Learning other
methods of teaching Mathematics could be a complex innovation to them.
Such situations require more reliable methods of teaching and delivery to be adopted. Students
should be taught such that they gain skills that enable them to understand how they can apply
the skills gained in real-life situations as well in their future professions (Petko, 2012, p.1351).
This is achievable if learning is made less stressful; it also enables Mathematics to become
meaningful to learners. As such, it is important that Mathematics teachers get sensitized and
well-equipped so that they can offer opportunities to their students to enjoy learning
Mathematics and become good at it, as well as applying the concepts learned to real life
situations.
Research findings recently conducted in the field of Mathematics education suggest that the
nature of learning and teaching Mathematics can be changed by integrating ICT in teaching the
subject (Donnelly, McGarr, and OReilly, 2011, pp.1469-1483). Integration of ICT in teaching and
learning Mathematics provides a focal point that encourages the interaction of learners,
teachers, and the technology itself. This suggests that the use of ICT in teaching Mathematics
supports the constructivist pedagogy; in this case, technology is used by both learners and
teachers in exploring and reaching higher levels of understanding the Mathematical concepts
taught and learned (De Smet, et al., 2012, pp.688-696). However, radical changes must be
adopted and implemented if the use of ICT in teaching and learning Mathematics is to be
effective; both teachers and learners must adopt and adhere to new roles.
ICT for Health

Information and communications technologies (ICTs) can play a critical role in improving health
care for individuals and communities. By providing new and more efficient ways of accessing,
communicating, and storing information, ICTs can help bridge the information divides that have
emerged in the health sector in developing countriesbetween health professionals and the
communities they serve and between the producers of health research and the practitioners
who need it. Through the development of databases and other applications, ICTs also provide
the capacity to improve health system efficiencies and prevent medical errors.

A physician in a remote rural hospital is initially unable to diagnose a patient with a


complex array of symptoms. However, using his MEDLINE search training and the
hospitals Internet connection, he is able to diagnose and successfully treat the
patient for a tropical disease the patient picked up while traveling abroad.

Another physician looks at her hospitals prescription trends using the newly created
electronic health record system and finds that other physicians are not using the post-
surgical antibiotic that is shown to be most effective according to the current
international guidelines. She speaks to the administration about advocating a switch
in antibiotics that will improve patient recovery outcomes and thereby save the
hospital money.

A neonatologist, who transmits CT-scans and other medical images by e-mail to his
network of personal contacts around the world to help in diagnosing and treating
premature newborns, estimates that teleconsultations have helped him to save
numerous lives during the past year.

A young woman, too embarrassed to ask her physician about reproductive health issues
and the risks of sexually transmitted infections, anonymously contacts physicians at a
womans health clinic, where theyve set up e-mail accounts for staff in order to
support these types of physician-patient interactions

Each of these examples demonstrates how information and communications technologies


(ICTs) can play a critical role in improving health care for individuals and communities. By
providing new and more efficient ways of accessing, communicating, and storing information,
ICTs can help bridge the information divides that have emerged in the health sector in
developing countriesbetween health professionals and the communities they serve and
between the producers of health research and the practitioners who need it. Through the
development of databases and other applications, ICTs also provide the capacity to improve
health system efficiencies and prevent medical errors.

ICT for health (or e-health) programs are often considered to be expensive, time-consuming,
risky, and otherwise distracting from the primary focus and intent of health sector programs. In
some cases these criticisms may be valid. There are, however, a wide range of low-cost and
sustainable ICT for health program components that can augment capacity and improve the
overall effectiveness of health development programs. These are the types of programs that
HealthConnect International is specialized to help deliver.

ICT will be a part of pupils experiences throughout their school careers and beyond. It is
important that they have regular opportunities to work with appropriate hardware and
software tools. This will help them acquire and develop the knowledge, understanding and skills
they will need.
Learning Intentions
We are learning to use ICT sources to research and develop our ideas.
We are learning how to use ICT as part of the creative process to develop and realise
our ideas.
We are learning to use ICT to communicate our ideas to a wider audience.
We are learning to use hardware and software tools to make and manipulate digital
images on screen.
We are learning to use hardware and software tools to manipulate still and moving
images.
To help set this work in context, you may wish to refer to the other Key Elements for Key Stage
3 Art and Design on this microsite:
Investigating and responding to a stimulus
Using the visual elements
Evaluating work (Assessment for Learning)
Appreciating the work of artists, designers and craft workers

Learning Activities
Ask the pupils to use CD-ROMs and the internet to learn about artists, designers and crafts
workers. Set specific tasks to help them extend their knowledge, experience and critical skills.
Encourage them to download relevant images and text to use as reference material.
Provide opportunities for the pupils to:
access original source materials such as drawings, prints, paintings, or photographs by:
o scanning, e.g. objects, images and surfaces;
o taking photographs with a digital camera;
o recording their own videos; or
o using software for digital drawing and painting;
use software to produce and manipulate images, both on screen and in print;
manipulate digital images on screen to help them develop ideas for pieces of work they
plan to make from other media;
use software techniques such as layering, blending, filtering etc. to modify images;
use ICT as a graphic design tool to combine and manipulate text and image; and/or
combine digital outputs with other media to produce mixed media outcomes.
Encourage the pupils to share their own and others artwork by:
using presentation software to present and communicate their ideas;
creating web sites to exhibit their work; and/or
using videoconferencing, podcasting, blogs and/or emailing to access audiences beyond
the classroom.
Ensure that pupils can use software drawing and painting tools to carry out a range of
functions, for example to:
design, draft and work with evolving versions of an image;
enhance their work by experimenting with modifications and adjustments;
demonstrate awareness of their audience and the purpose of their work, for example by
planning a course of action to meet user needs and taking account of their context;
understand and control the implications of file size when choosing file formats, for
example saving as JPEG for online posting and in native formats (not compressed) for
printing;
control resolution when capturing and saving images, e.g. setting scanner controls;
work independently without relying on teacher input;
use multiple images or layers, and cut and paste from within groups of layers; and/or
control tools in a sophisticated and discerning way, for example to extract from
background.
Give the pupils opportunities to work with moving images, for example to:
begin to consider the implications of working within the conventions of different genres,
such as documentary or comedy;
use a digital video camera to produce moving image;
start to be discriminating when selecting which effects and transitions to use;
appreciate the implications of setting the format, e.g. widescreen;
take account of portability and size of files, e.g. when considering who will use the
material produced; and/or
carry out camera work still or moving using a range of shots and camera angles.
Help them develop their confidence using animation by allowing them to:
explore a range of possible approaches within storyboarding, trying out alternative
sequences so as to anticipate what shots they will need;
use camera and recording equipment to take video of models and save files in an
appropriate format;
view video files on screen once captured;
import and add sound files in an editing environment, matching sounds to images to
generate narrative meaning;
work independently to produce a short animation;
carry out a clearly defined role within a group making an animation;
choose the best software for each task;
use the specialist vocabulary associated with film and animation to describe what they
are doing;
select and use a range of shots within their animation;
work with editing tools within a software application to achieve a high quality of finish,
e.g. trimming the length of a video clip, adding titles and credits and introducing
transitions; and/or
take account of the audience reception when planning and making the animation.

Music
Pupils experiences in Music centre around three core activities: composing, performing
and listening.
From learning to manipulate simple instruments at Foundation Stage, to exploring the
powerful role of music in society at Key Stage 3, they are able to develop their
knowledge, understanding and skills in all three areas.
These pages include a range of suggestions for what pupils should be experiencing at
every stage.
There are practical ideas for a variety of activities designed to develop their singing and
instrumental skills, as well as their skills of listening and responding to music.
To find out more, click on the links for the Key Stage you want to explore first.

Media and visual arts

The primary disputation of ICT adoption within Visual Arts appears to centre on an argument
between the virtual (ICT) as perhaps irrelevant within practice based disciplines; a disjuncture
between what is virtual and what is real; put colloquially, computers are a bit cold and art is
organic (Phelps and Maddison, 2008); or put more precisely what is immediate and what is
mediate (Weckman. In. Hanrahan, 2010). Logically Weckman points out that we can
differentiate the virtual in everyday face-to-face contexts [and] we also encounter the need
for mediated, prosthetic and technological tools. Therefore Steve, responsible for the
colloquial quote earlier, himself a painting/drawing practitioner is essentially inconsistent in his
desire for the illusive real. ICT whilst it conveniently or perhaps inconveniently in this case bears
the tag virtual is also real. Such resistance to ICT in Visual Arts is baseless and ultimately
makes teaching from such a viewpoint irrationally retrogressive. This needs disputation and
avoidance. With this in place let us now consider ICT within the Visual Arts.

Regarding curriculum, without detailing what has been and is now accepted or debated content
within the Visual Arts, the effect of ICT may be said to have remediated the domain and
consequently the subject area regarding both what students learn about and learn to do.
Raevaara (In. Hanrahan, 2010) defines this as new media refashion[ing] older media , and
older media hav[ing] to refashion themselves to answer challenges posed by new media. ICT is
to be understood as the new media and a number of general changes have taken place: there
are new and different forms of expression and observably new skillings and tools and different
artists [and students] entering the domain, there is for example drawing and painting software,
digital still and video cameras, e-portfolios, scanners, printers, image manipulation, video
editing, 3D image and animation, 3G, Internet and web page construction etc.; Furthermore
these provide new mediums for exploring solutions to design problems in older media, artists
and students are able to record and save ideas efficiently and edit these regarding line and
colour and introduce other images and motion etc, ICT can be used as a very powerful
drawing/planning tool; and there is also new communication and data access that is
increasingly available such as digital references (websites: galleries, artists, schools etc) and
communication systems (eg. moodle, skype, wimba etc) (Davies & Worral, 2003. Hanrahan,
2010. Phelps & Maddison, 2008.). ICT has expanded the field and extended but not replaced
existing or older technologies and thus altered what students learn about and learn to do and
the environment in which this happens; the curriculum.

Regarding the Pedagogy of ICT within Visual Arts education it should first be noted that an
immediate and intuitive grasp of ICT should not necessarily be expected as it often is (Loveless,
2003). The paradigm of building on prior knowledge is here pertinent; it is prudent to exploit
students gained facility with ICT but also to discern the differences between this and the
specific professional, educational or artistic outcomes intended, some of which may end up as
additional content and should be treated as such (see above). The other consideration is the
blending of online and in-situ learning pedagogically (see above for the logic of this
consideration). Sonvilla (in. Hanrahan, 2010) considers blended learning to be most effective,
this will of course be different depending on the unit and students being addressed (Hanrahan,
2010. & Phelps & Maddison, 2008). Briefly, some concrete ICT strategies might include:
geographically diverse collaborations, virtual excursions, blogged appraisal of work, organising
virtual exhibitions, online publication, digital appropriation etc. (refer above also as pedagogy
and curriculum are ideally interconnected).

Before explicating some ideals regarding ICT Visual Arts resources it should be said that
significant diversity exists between schools due to any number of reasons such as finances,
culture and leadership (Phelps and Maddison 2008). Individual teachers should be encouraged
to exert considerable pressure to obtain necessary resources for appropriate teaching of their
subject area whilst acknowledging limitations; often what is ideal in the industry doesnt
translate into the school institution seamlessly. In terms of ICT hardware research indicates the
often isolated and business-model nature of approach within schools (Phelps and Maddison,
2008). ICT embedded geographically within the Arts department in a creative capacity proves
far more appropriate. Regarding software there is much that has been made for specific
educative purposes (see Malins, McDonagh & Liapis. & Milojevic. In Hanrahan 2010). Most
educators however, advocate and employ a Lego tool approach; harnessing a wide range of
easily accessible, commonly used programs, many of which are open source or free to use that
are relevant for specific needs (Hanrahan, 2010). And many educators exploit students
familiarity from social investment of tools (myspace, facebook, redbubble, deviantart etc). In
light of rapid development this approach would seem prudent for relevancy and economy.
Room for further, future expansion has been directed towards the implications of 3G
technology (texting, WAP etc.) cost currently remains prohibitive and basic facilities are
unavailable in most education facilities (Davies & Worral, 2003. & Hanrahan, 2010).

Difficulties with assessment are cited as barriers to the adoption of ICT, regarding inability to
track process and there is also concern over plagiarism (Hanrahan, 2010. & Phelps and
Maddison, 2008). However many resources allow tracking of users input and work (eg. wikis)
and employing the use of editioning as an assessment requirement (eg. progress stills or
progress Psds within photoshop) will make process transparent. These are simple practices
which in actuality make ICT processes more transparent than past assessment.

Many barriers to the use of ICT in the Visual Arts are related to professional development
issues, such as pace of change, time, lack of and/or misguided support etc (Phelps and
Maddison 2008). However, whilst these should be given consideration, effective users of ICT
educationally have been shown to have a firm grounding not so much in the how-to as in the
why-to and are consequently self-taught, self users. This evidently needs to become a (not
the sole) focus of professional development.

The integration of ICT within Visual Arts education is not only high priority politically but is
evidenced as necessary and beneficial. Curriculum and pedagogy have been comprehensively
remediated, resources should be approached with flexibility and a lego tools approach,
assessment may utilise tracking and editioning and PD need employ why-tos as well as how-
tos. And finally we watch eagerly the impact of 3G.

References
Davies, T & Worral, P (2003). Art and Design Teacher Education and ICT. In. Addison, N &
Burgess, L (2003). Issues in art and design teaching. Pp. 90-97. Routledge Falmer: Milton Park.
Hanrahan, S ed (2009). Interface: Virtual Environments in Art, Design and Education. Sage
Publications: Volume 8, No. 1, pp. 99-128.

Loveless, A (2003). Making a Difference? An Evaluation of Professional Knowledge and


Pedagogy in Art and ICT. Jade, Volume 22, No. 2, pp 145-154.
Phelps, R & Maddison, C (2008). ICT in the secondary visual arts classroom: a study of
teachers values, attitudes and beliefs. Australiasian Journal of Educational Technology,
Volume 24, No. 1, pp. 1-14.

Agriculture

BACKGROUND: Agriculture plays an important role to the economies of Southern African


countries. Agriculture contributes significantly to about 35% of the gross domestic product
(GDP) of most SADC member states. In addition, agricultural exports are a major foreign
exchange earner, contributing on average 13 percent to total export earnings and constituting
about 66 percent of the value of intra- regional trade. Therefore, good performance of this
sector is vital for food security, employment, eradicating hunger, alleviating poverty, controlling
inflation, promoting economic growth and stabilizing economies. Agriculture-led development
is fundamental to cutting hunger and reducing poverty, thereby achieving some of the
important millennium development goals (MDGs). For economies such as Zambia, agriculture
accounts for about 20 percent of the GDP, while for others, such as South Africa, it contributes
less than five percent. Despite the importance of agriculture in the Southern African region's
economy, this sector has been in constant decline during the last decades. The agricultural
sector is confronted with major challenges related to production and marketing in order to
harness its growing and increasingly prosperous population and availability of natural
resources. With an estimated annual growth of only 1.5 percent, agriculture is lagging behind
demographic growth. However, guaranteed growth in agriculture means offering opportunities
for improved livelihoods for the rural communities. Realizing that these opportunities require
compliance with more stringent policy framework, strategies and regulations, there is an
increasing need for the private and public sector to get more involved with emphasis on policy
and innovations. In the above circumstances, new approaches, technical innovations as well as
policy implementation commitments are required to cope with these challenges and to
enhance the livelihoods of the rural population.

ICTs IN AGRICULTURE: It is clear that ICTs have brought to the fore, new ways of doing things.
There is realization that ICTs should be integrated to be effectively used in agriculture
development as facilitating tools to boost its impact to the lives of farmers. Information and
Communication Technologies (ICTs) have shown evidence for easier access to markets and
information resources. The role of ICTs to stimulate agriculture, enhance food security and
support rural livelihoods is increasingly recognized and was officially endorsed at the World
Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) 2003-2005. The computers, internet, geographical
information systems, mobile phones, as well as traditional media such as radio or TV stimulates
participation enhances value to productivity. Evidence of the contribution of ICT to agricultural
development and poverty alleviation is becoming increasingly available. In the past two
decades, a number of international agencies including CTA and its partners have been involved
in projects and policy support programmes and consistently monitor the progress and impact of
the use of ICTs in agriculture. Due to opportunities and unique services community telecentres
and local multimedia centres do provide to the rural communities in Africa, the role of these
local entities should be embraced in order to achieve much talked about universal access and
stimulate regional economic development. Telecentres provide facilitating roles to agriculture
development such as market information access, issues of climate change, and centres for
knowledge and information exchange. They also provide a huge potential for knowledge
centres and e- governance services as well as avenues for ICT awareness and literacy for the
local communities. As such telecentres should be adopted as main catalyst role for agriculture
in urban and rural areas of Southern Africa.

CHALLENGING ISSUES:

i.Policy implementation challenges

One of the key challenges in many countries in southern Africa is making things happen as
regards to ICT policy processes. Past experiences suggest that governments are often slow in
ensuring that policies are implemented once they have been launched. According a SADC
protocol on Information and Technologies of August, 2001 signed in Blantyre Malawi, SADC
member states undertook to ensure that ICTs do not increase the disparity between men and
women, rural and urban. Moreover the challenge of policy implementation is characterized by
lack of effective strategies to embrace ICTs as a cross cutting issue. Regulations in some of the
member countries favor commercial objectives other than development.

ii.Stakeholder engagement

Lack of involvement of stakeholders at a level of ICT policy processes particularly at


implementation has often paused challenges in ensuring achievement of policy objectives and
goals. Stakeholder involvement such as civil society and private sector makes policy
implementation and monitoring more impact. This is an area that needs to be addressed by
governments. There is thus need to involve both the private sector and civil society
organizations to play a role or part in the implementation of the policy through:

Consultations and working closely with the Ministry of Communications and Transport and
other respective Ministries on the development of implementation plans and strategies for
private sector and civil society participation in the policy implementation process;

Active participation by private and civil society organizations in policy implementation and
review process on an on- going basis. There is high demand for Public Private sector
Partnerships (PPP) to enable both the private sector and civil society organizations to get more
involved in implementation of ICT policies. This means that there should be policy framework
implementation acceleration; favorable universal access environment where various roles of
the civil society should be recognized.

iii.Capacity Building and development

It is evident that service delivery in telecentres is dependent on their capacities to operate


effectively. Many rural telecentres lack capacity development. Most of telecentres are
established without a capacity development component. Some of the key challenges facing
telecentres and respective networks are:

a. Lack of adequate financial and human resources within telecentres

b. Lack of managerial and technical skills for telecentre managers

c. Lack of adequate or poor ICT equipment within telecentres

d. Absence of institutional and extension support services from resource providers Though
governments have shown indications of establishment of telecentres, observations have shown
that there has been minimal support to develop capacities of telecentres in terms of the above
indicated challenges. Further many governments have also shown little or no interest in
working with exiting civil society organizations in the area of ICTs to resolve the challenges.

Further lack of adequate funding to telecentres has negated the development and up- scaling of
telecentres in the region. These challenges have made agriculture and other sector service
delivery through ICTs in most rural areas difficult.

iv.Infrastructure

Poor infrastructure has often paused greater challenges to operations of telecentres since the
advent of ICTs. Infrastructure difficulties evolve around internet, fixed and mobile
communications infrastructure. Where Internet services are still developing, many telecentre
services depend on it. The potential for rapid growth in internet coverage is undermined by
inadequate telecommunications infrastructure, poor telephone accessibility and high access
costs. Moreover lack of access to energy pauses greater more difficulties for telecentres to
deliver services.

Thus infrastructure challenges include:

Poor infrastructure connectivity services

Lack of access to energy sources such as hydro-power and alternative energy sources

Limited km radius coverage by mobile infrastructure Deliberate projects on ICTs in agriculture


should be encouraged and adopted. In order to contribute to the resolution of the above
challenges, Southern Africa Telecentre Network and its partners have planned to implement
the regional ICT Media Forum.

The Media FORUM OBECTIVES

Forum is expected to contribute to the creation of awareness, bringing key issues to discussion
and facilitate acceleration towards integrating ICTs and resolve some of the challenges in
agriculture development in Southern Africa.
The forum will be attended by a number of media organizations and related institutions in the
agriculture.

The Forum will have an opportunity to learn from innovative telecentres cases from the
Republic of Tanzania.

The media forum is being carried out as part of the process to raise awareness and stimulate
action from within public and private sector for increased awareness, investments and
innovation practices in ICTs for rural development particularly how telecentres can effectively
support agriculture in Southern Africa The main objectives of the ICT agriculture media Forum
are:

i.To raise public awareness on the importance and role of ICTs and telecentres in agricultural
development in Southern Africa.

ii.To stimulate public policy responses from the government and its agencies on the status of
policy implementation and strategies on ICTs and agriculture

iii.To provide an overview on the challenges and options for increased and sustained use of ICTs
in agricultural development with a focus to rural telecentres.

iv.To showcase presentations on existing ICT innovations and interventions in the agriculture
sector.

Main outputs:

i.Initiated public debate on policy issues affecting ICTs and agriculture development

ii.Commitments from public sector agencies on ICT policy

iii.Accelerated interventions and innovations on ICTs and agriculture

iv.Increased public awareness and recognized role of community telecentres in agricultural


marketing and development

v.Wider news coverage and reported pieces of information on the status of ICTs, agriculture
and community telecentres in major media houses and website.

The main target groups include:

Selected media houses; print and electronic media agencies

Freelance Journalists and students


Government ministries

Invited senior NGO and staff

Private sector agencies involved in the provision of agricultural services.

Writing and Publishing

I.C.T. for Writing

1. Programs to support Writing.


2. Word Processors.
3. Talking Word Processors.
Write:OutLoud, Textease, DoscPlus, Communicate SymWriter.
4. Spellcheckers in Word Processors.
Write:OutLoud.
5. Additional Onscreen Wordbanks and Grids.
Clicker, DocsPlus .
6. Predictive programs.
Penfriend, Co:Writer, ClaroRead, Read & Write Gold.
7. Typing and Keyboard Skills.
8. Voice or Speech Recognition Software.
9. Portable Word Processors and Writing Aids.
Forte, WriteOnline.
10. Using the internet.
Hi2U, WordPress.
11. Planning Software.
DocsPlus.
12. Handwriting.
1. Programs to support Writing.
The programs and I.C.T. tools to support writing are not like those which support, teach and
practise reading, phonics and spelling skills. They are not games and activities but open ended
programs that scaffold and support dyslexic students.
Some suggestions here are I.C.T. tools that enable faster typing or more accurate spelling. Some
suggestions are low tech solutions that may be all that is required.
2. Word Processors.
Word processing programs have made a major difference to many dyslexic users. They can help
with writing in education, work and leisure activities. They can also be helpful for supporting
the writing process (getting your ideas organised), and also for those who find presentation or
handwriting a problem.
Word processing is a key written communication
tool used in schools, colleges and many work situations. It enables easy drafting and editing.
Users can move written text around the page easily, using facilities such as delete, cut, copy
and paste.
There is no pressure to worry about rewriting texts many times over to get a neat piece of
writing. Word processed text always looks pleasing. It is particularly helpful in schools and
colleges when pupils and students can type longer pieces of work or essays. They are easier for
their teachers to read, too.
The font (the typed letters), size, colour and style can be changed easily.Underline, bold
and italic are simple but effective tools. Often additional features such as borders, clipart and
tables, can be added to text.
Some users like to word process, but type very slowly. Using additional wordbanks grids or
predictive programs can help enter text more quickly. It can be useful to use the same word
processing software at home as is used in school or work. Well known wordprocessors are
Microsoft Word, Microsoft Works and the free Open Office which are sold with some
computers, or can be easily purchased or down-loaded.
Most people are unaware of the many features that are provided by these professional word
processors. There are utilities that will autocorrect or auto-complete words that are
problematic for poor spellers; provide different coloured text and/or backgrounds; spelling and
grammar support; a text highlighting tool; thesaurus; facility for recording short notes.
See B.D.A. tech page on Using Microsoft Word 2007.

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3. Talking Word Processors.
Some word processors have a speech facility to enable users to hear the words and sentences
as they are being typed. The program uses synthesised (robotic sounding) speech. This can help
accuracy and reassure users that the content makes sense.
Many such programs offer a range of voices to choose from. They are used in many schools
especially at KS1, 2 & 3. Some programs will read toolbars and spellchecking menus, for
example Write:OutLoud.
Some talking word processors have an onscreen wordbank facility, which can save typing time.
Wordbanks offer lists of regularly used words or subject vocabulary. Users click on the words
they need from the list and it is entered into the text. Clicker7or DocsPlus from Crick software
include an extensive selection of built in wordbanks plus the facility to create your own from
any piece of text.
This saves typing time and concerns with spelling. Users can listen to the words before selecting
the one they need. Users can also create their own personal lists to use in the wordbanks.

Some dyslexic students with strong visualisation


skills, benefit from usinga talking word processor, where words are linked to symbolic
representation. The symbols provide good support for preparing and editing work, but can be
removed before the final printout. Symbols are more effective than spellcheckers and provide
positive feedback for incorrect homonyms.
For example Communicate: SymWriter as described in Symbol support,Word and PDF files.
There are several other programs that help users to enter words and phrases quickly and save
typing time. They can be used with any word processor or other program that needs a text
input.
See B.D.A. tech page on Text to Speech.

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4. Spellcheckers in Word Processors.
Spellcheckers in word processors can help identify misspellings, or typing errors. However,
many computer spellcheckers are not very helpful when suggesting a correction list. They
usually suggest words that have the first two letters in the spelling error.
If these letters are wrong it may not suggest the word needed. e.g. type sercle and the
suggestions may be serial or serve but not circle. A handheld Spellchecker may be useful.
These try to interpret phonic spellings, so typing in sercl will get the suggestion circle.
Write:OutLoud, a talking wordprocessor uses the Franklin spellchecking algorithms in the
program.
Wordprocessing tools such as search and replace however will find repeated errors and correct
them. The error (e.g. thay) and corrected version (they) need only be typed once and the other
corrections will be done automatically. Microsoft Word has a facility to autocorrect common, or
personal spelling errors.
See B.D.A. tech page on Spell-checkers.
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5. Additional Onscreen Wordbanks and Grids.
Additional onscreen wordbanks and grids in Clicker6, WriteOnline, CoWriter and Symwriter,
have their own speech facility enabling users to hear the words. They can offer multiple lists of
words or phrases on screen, for use with any word processor.

Users click on the word or phrase and it is typed


automatically into the word processor. Pictures and recorded speech can be added to some
wordbanks such as Clicker7, which is useful for younger users.
See NTC information about Clicker, inWord and PDF files.
DocsPlus contains predictive typing, mindmapping and text-to-speech. See B.D.A.
tech Word and PDF files on WriteOnline.
The wordbanks in Clicker7 and DoscPlus provide a useful technique for introducing students to
word processing and writing using a computer. Children generally learn to recognise words
before they can construct and spell them, so WordBanks can help students generate
meaningful text from an early stage.
The created word banks are easy to create and are also good tools for teaching vocabulary and
for sentence building where vocabulary is predictable and defined or limited. Writers with
spelling difficulties can also use the created word banks to select longer and more difficult
words, as well as generate ideas for word choice. They also allow for faster working by selecting
whole or sections of words, where typing is slow.
Both products allow teachers or students to quickly create on-screen word banks. Simply
import a list of words from any source.

Older users will find Wordbar2 useful with


wordprocessors like Microsoft Word. The free-standing program is no longer for sale as Crick
have included it as one of the options in other programs. However, for schools or individuals
who already have a copy, it is still useful for entering text into other wordprocessors.
These Wordbanks enable words and phrases to be entered quickly and accurately and help
users with difficult or subject specific spellings. Teachers can create their own grids of words for
an individual student or a specific subject use. The Crick programs have many useful ready
made files that can still be down-loaded free from their website, for use at all Key Stages. You
need Clicker7 or DocsPlus on PC or Mac and any Clicker app on iPad. There is now a
ChromeBook version of DocsPlus with an iPad version on the way.
Keeping up with the times, Crick has now developed a suite of apps, which run on an iPad. They
have specific aspects of the main program and will accept the resources from Learning
Grids. Clicker web gives details of how to use them and what they do. Clicker Sentences, Clicker
Connect, Clicker Docs, Clicker Books.

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6. Predictive programs.
Predictive programs can be used to reduce keystrokes, save typing time and aid spelling. After
just one or two keystrokes, these programs try to guess which common or regularly used words
the user is trying to type.
It presents the suggestions in a window on the
screen, so the user can listen and is then more likely to recognise and select the appropriate
word. For example, type the letter t and up to 8 or 9 common words are suggested, such as
the, this, there, they, etc.

Many of these programs also have a speech


facility enabling the word processor to talk. Programs such aPenfriend
XP, Co:Writer,ClaroRead and Read & Write Goldare good examples. Penfriend XP provides
prediction and onscreen keyboards. The XL version supports a number of European languages.
Many predictive programs have additional facilities to make any on-screen, text speak not just
in word processors. This can be useful to use in other applications, with e-mail and the internet.
The UK version of Co:Writer 7 has a much improved interface and offers writing support tools,
word prediction and new voices. There is also a CoWriter app, but as iOS limits to one
application at a time, students write in a dedicated writing space then copy and paste into
other apps.
7. Typing and Keyboard Skills.
To make full use of word processing it is helpful to develop efficient and accurate keyboard and
typing skills. See B.D.A. tech page on Typing.
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8. Voice or Speech Recognition Software.
Voice or speech recognition software enables users to speak the words they want to word
process. This can be a useful option especially for older pupils, students and adults. However, it
may not be as easy as it sounds. It takes time and training. It is not very appropriate for use in
the classroom, but can be valuable for producing extended pieces of work in a quiet
environment or at home. For more information visit NTC page on Speech Recognition, User
experience, S.R. Parental advice, S.R. questions.
If voice recognition software is used, it is better to dictate into the Wordpad utility rather than
the more more complex Microsoft Word. All the bells and whistles of Microsoft Word have an
adverse effect on the speed which words are dictated. Having created the dictated text in
Wordpad, the file can be transferred to Microsoft Word, where it can be benefit from the more
sophisticated editing functions.
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9. Portable Word Processors and Writing Aids.
Many dyslexic users need access to a word processor much of the time, especially in education.
A laptop PC or Android tablet or iPad may provide a solution for older students and adults.

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Often a small portable wordprocessor, with text prediction and (rather robotic) speech, like a
netbook with Write:Outloud and Co:Writer, or access to DocsPlus, will be the best solution,
especially for younger users. They look a bit like small laptop computers with smaller
screens. There is a variety of these available. They can be powered with batteries or mains
adaptors. Schools may still have Alphasmarts or Neos, which are no longer manufactured, but
are still useful.
Chromebooks, which offer fullsize screens and keyboards are also popular.

Users can type in their text, save it, transfer it to a desktop machine, or print it directly. Some
have additional facilities such as organisers, calculators or predictive programs.
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10. Using the internet.
Many very successful professional web page authors are dyslexic and this seems to be an area
where dyslexic attributes are a positive advantage. Some dyslexic school children have suddenly
seen the point of learning to communicate through writing, in order to get their ideas on to the
web. A good example can be seen at Hi2u.
For the really knowledgeable, these pages are created in the HTML programming language, but
it is possible to create pages in most word processing and desktop publishing programs. Then
you need to contact your Internet Service Provider to find out how to upload them to the
web. An easier route is to use WordPress to create your own blog. Face-book and Twitter are
modern and sociable ways of encouraging writing, but young people need to be aware of the
dangers of revealing too much personal information.
E-mail can be a big incentive to encourage reluctant writers, especially when there is a rapid
response from the other person. Correct spelling and punctuation is not such a big issue as in
more formal writing. For those who use SymWriter, there are add-ons which allow symbols to
be used in e-mails and for reading web pages.
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11. Planning Software.
Mind-mapping is a dyslexic tool and reflects the way some visual dyslexics organise their ideas.
There are now several computer programs that enable ideas to bubble up in a visual format
without anxieties of spelling, grammar or sequencing. DocsPlus includes a Workspace option
which is integral with the document in the full versions.
Once the ideas are ready, they can be organised as a map and saved as a text outline.
This can then be worked up into an essay or report and imported into a word processor. The
mind-map itself can be kept as a useful tool for later exam revision purposes.
Details of mind-mapping software are in B.D.A. Tech Mind Maps page.
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12. Handwriting.
Whilst developing wordprocessing skills are very beneficial for dyslexic users, some may still
want to improve their physical handwriting. The kinaesthetic action of forming letters into
words is very important in providing proprioceptive feedback to the brain, in the early stages of
learning to read and write, and the development of learning to spell. Some children with
dyslexic and dyspraxic learning differences benefit from formal handwriting exercises, where
they can concentrate on the process rather than the content.
Handwriting for Windows (KBER) allows the teacher or carer to generate handwriting practice
sheets quickly and easily in a variety of layouts. Once the preferred style has been set up, it can
be used to create handwriting sheets of work the child has already created on the computer.

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