Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Information Technology

Welcome to my first posting, which will be relating to Information Technology and Ethical Issues.

Definition: Information Technology
 (Electronics & Computer Science / Communications & Information) the technology of the production, storage, and communication of information using computers and microelectronics
Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged © Harper Collins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003

My personal interpretation of this definition is Information Technology is a term used to cover the industry, business and personal use of modern day communication.  This includes any activity that would involve an electronic device or computer chip being in the setting of industry or personal use.

Considering the definition of IT provided I would like to discuss how I have perceived it influence and prevalence in our society.  How has it affected us? I have included some interesting links to reflect the above questions.
From my own personal experience of IT, I have observed a huge influence of the prevalence of computers and electronics in the lives of the general population; this is across all age groups.  Education is no longer taught without the expected access to small computers and educational software.  An example of this is my current course where over 50% of work is to be accessed from the internet and student work is processed on laptops.  There has been current debate in New Zealand where school children are required to have i-pads for school causing potential financial stress for some families.
Mobile phones have developed into mini computers, allowing users to have continual access to internet/communication and added applications i.e. video, camera, etc.  Recently technology has made an impact on home entertainment from watching anything you want on plasma televisions to interactive physical activities via Wii, i.e. playing the drums in a band or a session of yoga or a game of tennis, all within your living room.   Technology is so prevalent in all our everyday occupations that any disruption of their use can cause major problems for people and millions of dollars lost of revenue to businesses per day.  To get an idea of the rate technology is advancing the following link is worth looking at.

I have also added a link: Technology – reshaping ours lives and it gives a short overview of how it has changed the way we receive and present information.
In considering my present day competency in using IT devices and how I see my future attitude towards them, the following statement explains how I feel.
Due to my current study, I have developed a comfortable level using my personal computer.  I am familiar with word processing applications and researching on the internet.  As my study evolves there is becoming an increasing demand on acquiring more knowledge of IT to further expand on assignments.   This demand makes me feel uncomfortable as demand on my time to learn new information is huge and finding more time to explore and familiarise myself with new applications is stressful.  Time is what I find limiting in my ability to learn more IT applications. 
Due to changes in my life, my dependence on IT has increased,  I feel this has be a positive change, as mentioned above it has greatly supported by ability to undertake the opportunity to change my career through study.  Living away from family members has become emotionally easier due to social networking i.e. facebook.  Access to photos, videos and chat gives me the opportunity to be in contact with them daily.  Mobile phones have made it possible to be in contact with family and friends whenever need arises.

The following statements addresses IT being integrated into OT Practice and the issues that exists.  Also I give my impression of its potential and my experience, through fieldwork of how I IT is being used to enable occupation
During my field work experiences, IT has been used as a tool for research.  Working with a Community OT, it was routine to research the medical files on any new clients on the DHB software medical records system called Concerto.  There was a large amount of researching medical conditions via internet; this was done through Google or medical articles.  Businesses involved with supply of equipment provided their catalogues via their websites and very often specialty equipment was looked up e.g. Roho cushions.

OT’s adopting IT systems and tools to use within therapy is numerous.  Firstly, there are ethical issues to consider when using the internet.  Information accessed this way is uncontrolled and edited; therefore a certain amount of knowledge and maturity is needed to be able to filter through large amounts of information for reputable sources.  OT’s need to be mindful of this when address their own research and forwarding information to clients.   Continual up-skilling of current IT information and new products can put extra demand and stress on an OTs time, knowing there is an expectation of performance in this area.  An OT needs to be mindful, when recommending personal computers, consoles and portable devices for clients, there is very often a large expense involved and technical advice needed.  More often than not clients are not in a position to afford these devices and recommendation for purchase could be offending for the client. Another issue to consider are limitations and precautions.  Verdonk and Ryan (as cited in Griffiths et al 2003) suggest the clinical reasoning and judgement is needed when dealing with vulnerable clients.  In these circumstances technology must be monitored to avoid negative outcomes and avoiding cultivating potential behaviours such as addiction and aggression.

OT is becoming more IT influenced.  The accessibility and it’s development into the integration in our everyday lives proves that OT’s need to access its availability to clients and consider the benefits of using technology as a tool for implementing strategies for engagement.  Majority of clients will have certain knowledge of use if not already reliant on small devices to enable them to engage in meaningful occupation i.e. social networking, mobile phones, etc.  When working with a client and using the OT Process, problem identification and solving will have an influence on what strategies using IT can be put in place.  Client strengths and concerns can often dictate how much IT can be used for intervention (according to their independence/dependence).  I have included a link to Assisted Technology in Occupational Therapy.  This video clearly demonstrates the level of assistance, when using equipment, from the simple device through to an electronic device serving a similar purpose.  This video will also give a range of areas for practice and opportunity.

As mentioned above and experiencing in our own daily lives, whether we are technophobic or techno geeks, I believe technology is changing and impacting our lives and occupations.  This impact is forcing us to acquire a understanding of electronic devices and technology to function from day to day in occupation.  Banking, paying bills, home entertainment, having our lives organised and available from our lap tops is just a small part.  Since all this is affecting my life and dictates how I must change my ideas, I feel it gives me the opportunity to understand feeling of fear and intrepidness when dealing with clients in the same position.  Through study and having the opportunity to work through my own learn and application of new technology puts me as a therapist to show empathy but also the motivation to strategise the incorporation of IT and its advantages of convenience into enabling occupation by the assistance of electronic home devices.

Ethical implications that arise from transferring information via IT devices or systems can be numerous.  My main concern is the fact that information on the internet is uncontrolled and unedited.  This creates an environment where information that is undesirable and unsubstantiated can be accessed by any one and any age.  Due to the internet being global, monitoring of millions of sites would be impossible. 
The sharing of information between IT devises e.g. mobile phones and internet can be instantaneous, which can cause some information to become viral.  Swapping of photos through the above systems has the opportunity to threaten a person’s privacy and control of who they want to view the material.  People need to exercise caution when using these forms of communication.


Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged © Harper Collins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003
Griffiths, MD., Davies, MNO. & Chappell, D. (2003). Breaking the stereotype: the case of online gaming. Cyber Psychology and Behaviour, 6 (1), pp.81-9.
Verdonck, M. & Ryan, S. (2008).  Mainstream technology as an occupational therapy tool: Technophobe or technogeek? British Journal of Occupational Therapy, 71(6), 827

1 comment: