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Lesson Plan:

For Teachers: The Future of Computer Technology

Type: Webquest
Subjects: Science, Social Studies
Duration: 2 to 3 lessons
Purpose: To explore and extrapolate on the future of computer technology and its impact on society
Summary: Using Web-based resources as a guide, students will select a topic and write a research paper about the future of computer technology.


Described as "gigantic brains," computers were once so big they filled entire rooms. The world's first computer, ENIAC, cracked and buzzed, and weighed 27 tonnes. Today, the computer revolution is in full swing. Once the computer chip was miniaturized, computer use increased exponentially. Miniaturization and increasing computer speed have affected our jobs, our free time, and our home life. The next 10 years will bring more innovations as smaller and faster systems are developed.

The Task

Students will select one of the topics below as the subject of a research paper.

New security systems: Eye (iris) detectors, genetic mapping, and so on.

Artificial intelligence: The creation of a thinking computer.

Domestic robots: Science fiction is about to become a reality.

The future of education: Have teachers become superfluous?

Built-in intelligence: Appliances, cars, even clothing have computer chips built in.

Artificial limbs, sight, and hearing: Medical advances will soon create a bionic human being.

Students will perform Web-based research to explore the direction their technology is taking. Using their research, students will extrapolate and discuss how they think their technology will influence human life and society in the next 10 years. Papers should include the science behind the innovation, the impact the technology will have on society, and the possible economic impact of the technology. In summarizing the paper, students will write a short speculative section on the more distant future of computers in our society.

The Process

Students will work individually. They will select one of the six topics and begin their research on the topic Computer Invasion: A History of Automation in Canada on the CBC Digital Archives website. The clips titled "Thinking differently", "A network called 'internet'", "Robot takeover threatens job economy" and "David Suzuki discusses computer revolution" will be particularly helpful. Students can continue their research online, using any sources they find relevant. Students must cite all sources as part of their research.


Arrange students in groups such that each group member researches a different topic. The students will present their topics to each other. They may wish to make short summary handouts to give to the group members. Once the group discussions are finished, ask the students what they think will happen in the more distant future. You can conclude this exercise by having the students write a short paragraph summarizing the general effect of computers on society.