The Use of IT in Everyday Life

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Computers are ubiquitous in society by now. To truly appreciate the importance of basic computer skills, you should know some of the major areas in which computers are used:

  • Business

  • Government

  • Healthcare

  • Education

  • Home

These and other uses of computers are the topics of this section of the exam.

Computers at Work

Of course, the workplace is one area in which you will find many computers. You should have some sense of what computers can (and can't) be used for in the workplace.

What Are Computers Good For?

Identify some situations where a computer might be more appropriate than a person for carrying out a task and where not.

Computers are great aids to productivity in many situations. Keeping track of thousands or millions of details, performing complex calculations, and working in a consistent fashion are all strengths of computers. Routine and tedious tasks that require tracking large amounts of information are ideal for computerization. Creating complex financial reports , keeping track of warehouses full of inventory, or calculating baseball statistics for thousands of games are all examples of tasks that fall into this category.

On the other hand, computers can't do everything. Tasks requiring judgment, such as allocating medical care or even driving, cannot yet be easily computerized. Computers are also limited to working with the information that you give them; if a computer is given wrong information, wrong answers will result. This limitation is sometimes called "garbage in, garbage out." Finally, tasks that benefit from a human touch, from customer service to retail sales, are often best performed by a person rather than a computer.

Computers in Business

Know some of the uses of large-scale computer applications in business such as: business administration systems, airline booking systems, insurance claims processing, online banking.

Many businesses depend on computers for their day-to-day operations. Some of the major areas where computers are used in business include the following:

  • Business administrative systems include accounting systems that track profit and loss, customer relations management (CRM) systems that keep track of customers and their needs, and enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems that help make manufacturing more efficient.

  • Airline booking systems sell virtually all plane tickets on commercial airlines.

  • Insurance companies use claims processing systems to track the myriad details of their businesses.

  • Online banking is an increasingly popular alternative to traditional face-to-face branch banking.

Computers in Government

Know some of the uses of large-scale computer applications in government such as: public records systems (census, vehicle registration), revenue collection, electronic voting.

Government at all levels, from local to state and federal, would have difficulty operating without computers. Most public records, from census results to voter and vehicle registrations, are now stored on computers. Assessing and collecting taxes is also a heavily computerized activity. Votes are tabulated by computer, and some jurisdictions are even experimenting with electronic voting, in which paper ballots are dispensed with completely.

Computers in Healthcare

Know some of the uses of large-scale computer applications in hospitals /healthcare such as: patient records systems, ambulance control systems, diagnostic tools and instruments, specialist surgical equipment.

Healthcare is increasingly dependent on computers. You'll find computers used in hospitals and other healthcare settings in a variety of ways:

  • Patient information is increasingly computerized. Healthcare activities ranging from admitting, taking patient history, and providing treatments are computerized in many places. Also, with computerized medical information, patients and physicians have easy access to complete medical records.

  • Efficiently dispatching ambulances and other emergency vehicles is easier with computerized systems that track addresses and equipment availability.

  • Modern diagnostic tools such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computerized tomography (CT) scanners depend on computers to make their results understandable.

  • Surgery is made easier by computerized systems that help surgeons visualize the internal anatomy of a patient before they ever make an incision.

Computers in Education

Know some of the uses of computer applications in education such as: student registration and timetabling systems, computer-based training (CBT), distance learning, homework using the Internet.

Computers are also important in education. Student information, from schedules to grades, is usually stored in a computer system. Computers are also often used to create class schedules, a process sometimes referred to as timetabling . In some fields, computer-based training (CBT), in which an interactive computer program helps the student learn, can replace or augment the traditional classroom experience. Computer networks have made possible the rise of distance learning, in which the teacher and the students can be located thousands of miles from one another. And of course the Internet has been a boon to students everywhere doing their homework; there's no easier way to find out the capital of Bolivia or the number of species of bears in the world.


Understand the term teleworking. List some of the advantages of teleworking such as: reduced or no commuting time, greater ability to focus on one task, flexible schedules, reduced company space requirements. List some disadvantages of teleworking such as: lack of human contact, less emphasis on teamwork.

Computers and computer networks have enabled a new form of work: teleworking . Teleworkers dial in to the office, connecting their computers to the company network rather than physically commuting to the office. This process saves the time and money that would be spent on commuting and frees the company from needing to provide office and parking space for the employee. Teleworkers often enjoy flexible schedules, and many prefer the home atmosphere to the office. Teleworkers are also able to concentrate on their jobs more effectively, in many cases, thanks to the lack of typical workplace interruptions.

But teleworking doesn't work out well for everyone. Some people find that they miss the human contact that comes from going into the office every day, and it can be difficult to manage a team when the workers are spread around the country. Also, teleworkers are subject to many temptations to postpone work in favor of personal tasks; it takes a certain amount of discipline to be a successful teleworker.

Electronic World

Computers have had impacts far outside the business world. Many people these days depend on electronic mail and electronic commerce in their day-to-day lives.


Understand the term electronic mail (email) and know its main uses.

In recent years , electronic mail (email) has gone from being a curiosity to being a mainstay of communications for computer owners . Email allows you to send messages and files from your computer to the computer of anyone else who has an email address. Email is used to send contracts to suppliers, news to relatives, and jokes to friends . Millions of email messages are transmitted every day around the world.

Like some other facets of computing, email also has its dark side. Unsolicited commercial email (UCE, sometimes informally called "spam") threatens to overwhelm many email users with an avalanche of undesired messages. And email has also become a medium for transmitting harmful computer code, otherwise known as viruses .

You'll learn much more about email in Chapter 8.


Understand the term e-commerce. Understand the concept of purchasing goods and services online, including giving personal details before a transaction can be carried out, payment methods , consumer's basic right to return unsatisfactory goods.

Spurred by the success of high-profile companies, such as Amazon, electronic commerce (e-commerce) is becoming an increasingly successful part of the modern economy. In e-commerce, you purchase goods and services by visiting the Web site of a vendor. There you can browse through a catalog and select the items that you want to purchase. When you're ready to purchase, you need to supply your billing and shipping details so that the vendor will know where to send the goods and how to collect their payment. Most e-commerce vendors accept credit cards for payment; some also allow you to pay by check, wire transfer, or online payment services such as PayPal.

Even if you're purchasing online, you aren't waiving your basic rights as a consumer. Any reputable e-commerce vendor will accept returns in case they ship you the wrong product or an unsatisfactory product. It's up to you, however, to understand the vendor's policies on returns before you place an order.

Advantages and Disadvantages of E-Commerce

List some of the advantages of purchasing goods and services online, such as: services available 24 hours a day, opportunity to view a wide range of products. List some of the disadvantages of purchasing goods and services online such as: choosing from a virtual store, no human contact, risk of insecure payment methods.

E-commerce can be a wonderful thing. You can purchase a last-minute birthday present at 3 a.m. with a blizzard outside your house and have it delivered the next day to a recipient across the country or around the world. Vendors can also maintain extensive catalogs of goods on the Web, enhancing your purchase choices.

But you need to be a bit careful when engaging in e-commerce as well. You can't "kick the tires" the way that you can when you're inspecting physical goods in person, so you need to be sure that what you're ordering is really what you want. There are no helpful salespeople to aid you in choosing between potential purchases. And if you're not careful, you could end up sending your credit-card information in a form that could be stolen (although most online merchants now use secure order forms that remove this potential problem).

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ICDL Exam Cram 2
ICDL Exam Cram 2
ISBN: 0789730928
EAN: 2147483647
Year: 2006
Pages: 142 © 2008-2017.
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