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Communication and Transportation

Identify the innovations in communication and transportation that most significantly changed the political, economic, demographic and social landscapes of Canada.

Outcomes References Related Resources

Suggested Activities

In this challenge, students investigate the impact of technology on the development of Canada by identifying the innovations in communication and technology that most significantly changed Canada's political, economic, demographic and social landscapes.

Activity 1
As a class, choose two communication or transportation innovations, such as television and MP3 players or bicycles and elevators, and discuss how they have affected students' lives. Introduce four kinds of effects that an innovation might have on a community; i.e.:

  • political; e.g., power relations, sense of national identity
  • economic; e.g., wealth, production, working conditions
  • demographic; e.g., population size and composition, immigration patterns
  • social; e.g., values, lifestyle, cultural identities.

Write the name of the innovation on the board and create a chart with the four areas of impact across the top.

Effects of Innovation

Areas of Impact


























MP3 players






























Encourage students to identify possible direct and indirect consequences of these innovations. For instance, the economic impacts of television might include broader-based advertising, which increased demand for products, created jobs and raised the standard of living. Other consequences are social and political; e.g., changed lifestyle, created new icons and heroes, affected sense of national identity, influenced popular opinion on national issues. The elevator has obvious demographic effects; high rise buildings and high-density cities are direct results of having this easy way to reach higher floors.

Ask students to consider which of the four examples has the greater political, economic, demographic and social impact. Suggest that students consider the number of people whose lives are affected and how significantly these lives are changed. The innovation with the greater impact is the one that most significantly alters more peoples' lives. Socially, a bicycle is a convenience, a form of recreation and an alternative source of transportation. Elevators, on the other hand, are indispensable for most who work, live or have business in a high-rise building. Television is used to influence public opinion in ways that an MP3 player is not; therefore, the television has greater political impact.

Activity 2
Continue to examine various innovations in two areas:

  • communication, such as CBC, Société Radio-Canada, radio transmissions, electronics and multimedia
  • transportation, such as aviation, railways and automobiles.

Students are to determine how these innovations impacted the Canadian landscape politically, economically, demographically and socially. Suggest that students create a chart for each innovation they consider. It might be useful to have half of the class examine communication technologies while the other half explores transportation technologies. Consider adapting one of the charts and strategies found in Collecting Information (Support Material) to structure and assess this activity.

Activity 3
Ask students to nominate the most significant innovation in each category; i.e., political, economic, demographic and social impact. Invite students to present their nominations orally or in a written format. In their rationale for each nomination, ask students to discuss the impact of the innovations. Consider adapting one of the charts and strategies found in Justifying My Choice (Support Material) to structure and assess this activity.

Last updated: July 1, 2014 | (Revision History)
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