Outcome H4.1 - Emerging information needs

posted Jul 16, 2009, 4:33 AM by Unknown user   [ updated Jul 16, 2009, 2:16 PM by Eddie Woo ]
H4.1: What emerging information needs is James Ruse likely to face in the next 5, 20 and 50 years? How will the intranet meet these needs?

5 years (2014):
Within the next 5 years, the most significant change to hit the James Ruse information environment will undoubtedly be the new laptops. These computers are already being rolled out to year 9 students this year, and within the next five years it is likely that most (if not all) students in the school will have been supplied with one. The continual use of laptops in classrooms would necessitate a school-wide wireless network - it would be simply impractical for 30 students to walk into the room, take out their laptops, and plug them into the wall network socket with a cable. Hundreds of students using their laptops at the same time would place a severe strain on the already-struggling school network capabilities. Furthermore, the software included with these laptops suggests that students will be increasingly working with digital multimedia (such as images, audio, and video) which by its very nature requires more data to be transmitted and received. If these data-intense resources were to be distributed over the school Intranet, an exorbitant amount of hard disk space on the Google Sites servers would be taken up (likely accompanied by an exorbitant fee). To overcome this, students could upload their multimedia to external hosting websites (such as YouTube for videos and Flickr for images) - however, they would have to ensure that the DET has not decided to block such sites.

Another key issue is that by this time, the first students (i.e. most likely 1 or 2 years from now) to use the Intranet to upload their work and assignments will have graduated and left James Ruse. What do we do with the data they have left behind - delete it forever, let everyone else access it, or just take a copy and archive it? If this problem persists and the school chooses to archive the data of successive years, clearly the store of accumulated data will be massive and require a huge amount of storage space. Permission would have to be obtained from each and every student in question before action can be taken.

By 2014, it is likely that the majority of permission notes will have been moved online, to a new dedicated section of the Intranet. Students will still probably have to print out notes and get their parents to sign as per usual - though perhaps by this time, we may be trialling online methods of payment (such as through BPay and online banking). Some serious difficulties will be faced in merging together two completely different systems - the confidential school database containing records of who needs to pay for what, and the basic content management system provided by Google Sites. Google Sites itself will probably have undergone several changes by this time, but none which severely impact upon the functioning of the Intranet.

20 years (2029):
By the time 2029 rolls around, it is likely that just about all computer-related tasks will be done in the "cloud" (i.e. over the Internet), ranging from school to work to play. 20 years is a long time in technology terms, and we can expect to see great increases in processing power and hard disk storage space.

As part of the cloud, the intranet will form a crucial part of school life at James Ruse in 20 years. By this time all work will be stored and worked on through the Intranet - the cloud's widespread use in global society will mean nothing more than a web browser is needed to create documents with rich formatting. There will be no excuses for handing in work late - all students will be expected to have their completed assignments in the cloud by the due date.

Ubiquitous Internet access will allow updates and announcements to be pushed in real time to the portable computers (maybe laptops, maybe something even smaller) of those students whom it is relevant to. For example, the daysheet would be sent out to every student each day and automatically appear on their screen and the newsletter would be pushed out weekly; while an individual student who needs to see the office would receive a specific notification. It is also likely that a seamless system for parents to digitally "sign" their children's permission notes and pay for activities will have been trialled and put into widespread use throughout the school. Webcams and videoconferencing will allow students to communicate with each other at any time; thus they can collaborate on group projects from the comfort of their own homes.

The sheer amount of new content being introduced to the Intranet by this time will most likely lead to it requiring several major overhauls and redesigns, at least once every 5 years. The current navigation and layout envisioned by the 2009 aD team, while more than sufficient for the near future, will be simply unable to cope with the massive quantities of data to be generated in future. This will be up to the apocalipticDESIGN team for that year to solve.

50 years (2059):
It is likely that residents of the year 2059 will look back on 2009 and wonder how we ever managed to live like that, with such "primitive" technology - that's certainly what we think of life back in 1959! By this time, life will have changed completely. Internet access will be ubiquitous and computing will be truly mobile, with incredibly powerful processing devices in the palm of our hand. Perhaps by this time we will begin to see the development of electronic implants integrated into the human body?

The realm of education will undoubtedly have been revolutionised by the advent of new technologies. The old traditions of copying down notes into an exercise book will seem archaic - in 50 years time, the digital revolution will have completely replaced any previous paper-based methodologies. Alternate means of inputting data (other than the standard keyboard and mouse) into a computer will likely be under development and experimental use, such as voice or even thought control.

Of course, the school Intranet will have to have changed dramatically to keep pace with all these advances in technology. The size and scope of its educational content will have far outgrown the original Google Sites framework upon which it was built. By this time, the NSW Board of Studies will have realised that the number 1 school in the state has been shooting even further ahead of the competition with the use of their new Intranet - in this situation, it is probable that the government would begin implementing a similar intranet system in other schools across the state. Such a system would be custom-built for schools as an overall management tool, with separate permission levels for students (to do their work) and staff (to plan assessment tasks and the like), and advanced security (possibly incorporating biometrics to identify individuals) to protect privacy and confidential data. If the government fails to do such a thing, I would imagine that by this time Mr. Woo would have coded a complete, James Ruse-specific content management system for use by the school. It would no longer be a mere Intranet - this would be an integrated and sophisticated information system, a "super network", encompassing the information needs of the entire James Ruse community in 2059.
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