The BIG Ideas in ITGS

May session schools are now starting-up and November session schools are well into the school year. This seems to be an ideal time for a checklist of BIG Ideas for teaching and learning ITGS.

New Triangle3BIG Ideas… (no order of importance):

  • ITGS must be firmly set in the Aims for Group 3 and the goals that underpin IB programmes: IB mission statement, learner profile, international-mindedness that lead to embedding the ‘G‘ in ITGS. Moreover, ITGS students must follow policies set out for academic excellence in both Academic Honesty and the IB Handbook.
  • Three extremely important definitions appear in the ITGS guide (see page 4) that sets ITGS apart from traditional IT subjects: Information technology, social and ethical considerations and information system. Together they establish the uniqueness in ITGS that sets it apart from other curricula.
  • ITGS needs to be linked to the learning in the years preceding the DP programme as well as other DP subjects and requirements. TOK is a natural part of most/all ITGS lessons. CAS often is a possibility for some creative activities by ITGS students and an ITGS research question may be proposed for the  extended essay. Moreover, teaching students about responsible, ethical and legal use of IT cannot be delayed until the DP programme. It needs to be practiced in all of the years leading up to ITGS. A good example of this ‘digital citizenship’ which needs to be practiced by all members of the school community.
  • ITGS TRIANGLE guides every activity and discussion in ITGS. The “four” components of the Triangle are the basis for analyzing every news item (see news items listed for ITGSopedia topics). Why “four” components? Stakeholders in the middle are involved in all of the other three aspects. The Triangle is also the basis for all assessment – Projects, Examination Papers and Extended Essay. in future blogs the ITGS Triangle will be demonstrated in a range of contexts.
  • ITGS terminology and concepts must be understood – “ITGS terminology refers to both the IT technical terminology and the terminology related to social and ethical impacts.” If students do not understand the vocabulary and phrases that appear in textbooks, news articles, applications and online services, how can they write meaningful responses to examination questions or develop the documentation for their ITGS Project?
  • It is important to understand “how ITGS works”. Students must be able to describe step-by-step IT processes. They need to be able to relate impacts and issues to the relevant IT systems. This is often important in determining solutions for the issues that have arisen in a news article or particular situation.
  • The use of the words ‘impacts’ and ‘issues’ leads to another concept. ‘Balance’ in the way the outcomes are analyzed. Too often students tend to look at only the negative side or issues rather than consider the broader scope of impacts which implies both the postive and negative aspects of a particular situation.
  • Multimedia material (i.e. video and podcasts) is important to the ITGS learning experience. ITGSopedia, YouTube and the 505 various TED Technology provide both visual material as well as current information items relating to the three Strands in the ITGS Guide.
  • Reading is not enough! Investigations, practical and hands-on activities provide experience in using ITGS concepts.
  • ITGS must be placed in real contexts (actual scenarios from news articles, studying real situations that exemplify the information in the Guide). The Facebook group, ITGSopedia, provides a platform for finding the best articles each week posted by ITGS colleagues.
  • Regular discussion and analysis of current news items relevant to ITGS need to be integrated into ITGS to prepare for the externally assessed components. Some news services also provide excellent current material such as BBC News – Technology, Click, NPR with images, video or podcasts.
  • Follow-up and further research. One source of information is rarely enough. Concepts, ideas and opinions need to be formulated from a range of resources.
  • Record? How are is the information from students and collaborations between students being recorded over the two years of study? What materials will the students develop so that they can review them before walking into the examination room? There must be a resource of notes to refresh the concepts from reading, discussions, investigations, and hands-on activities.
  • 21st century teaching and learning strategies are important in ITGS. Students must be actively engaged in the subject through collaborative learning activities both online and off-line. They need to experience anytime anywhere learning and become aware of the ITGS which is a natural part of the world around them. They need to use the mobile technologies, as well as traditional IT systems, that they have available to increase their opportunities for learning.

These are a few of the BIG Ideas for ITGS that can be used whenever planning teaching and learning activities. What other ideas would you like to add?

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