Human Services Technology by Dick Schoech, Published by Haworth Press

Chapter 2: Basic Concepts and Historical Context

Web sites Additional review & discussion questions Exercises Additional readings

Web Sites relevant to sections of this chapter

Site Relevance

Section 1:  Basic Concepts of Human services IT Encyclopedia/search engine on technology Distance Ed Clearinghouse (contains glossaries)

Jargon File (The New Hacker's Dictionary) DHHS health and human service gateway


Section 2: Introduction to IT Processor specifications from Intel


Section 3: Historical Perspective Computers: History and Development History of computing Computer Museum History Center


Section 4: Societal Impact



Section 5: Information Use in Human Service Delivery


Additional Review and Discussion Questions



Exercise 1: Tour an agency's IT systems

    Tour the IT systems and operations of a human service agency.  Ask the person in charge of IT to address the following.

  1. Identify all major hardware components and their function.

  2. Review all major networking components and their functions

  3. Review all software applications, their goals, functions, and users.

  4. Request documentation on the system, e.g., any computing short and long-range plans for the agency.

  5. Provide a historical overview, for example, when major components were added and the growth of technical staff.

  6. How does the agency evaluate whether its computing systems are effective, e.g., user satisfaction, cost-benefit, and improved decision making?

  7. What new hardware, software, networking, and applications are envisioned for the next 5 years?

Exercise 2: Creating a “human” computer

    Assign each of the components of a computer system to members of the class.  If the class is small, use only the major components: processor, printer, floppy disk, floppy disk drive, monitor, central processing unit (CPU), and keyboard.  Interconnect the various components (students) with pieces of string and describe the direction in which signals move as the computer operates.  If this exercise is completed individually, draw each of the components and interconnect them with lines.  Use arrows to indicate the direction of information flow.

Assign one class member as the operator of the computing system.  Describe the steps the operator takes to solve a mathematical problem such as adding two numbers, save the answer for future use, and printing the answer. Describe the steps that the computer takes in response to the actions of the operator.  Each class members should describe the operation of their assigned component as it is used.  If the class is large, add networking components to the system. 

Additional Reading

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