Students generally have some experience in using the various IT tools, applications and online services that may be needed to make an IT product:
- experience in creating and editing sounds, images, video and other components
- access to applications for creating websites, DTP products, databases and other products
- knowledge of how to use online components for accomplishing a particular task (i.e. creating calendars, finding locations on maps, sending emails, code for particular effects, etc.)
- awareness of online services for hosting (i.e. websites, DTP products or other IT solutions)
However, when student and their client have decided what kind of product needs to be created, there is a major amount of research, investigation and experimentation that must take place in order to create a ‘professional-like’ product. Unfortunately, this is usually not well-documented in the resources listed in Criterion B, Criterion D nor in Criterion E (as needed).
Rarely does a student have all of the knowledge and skills to develop the product envisioned by the client. However, there is an expectation that a well-designed and functional product will be the outcome. Students need to bridge this gap.
What kinds of research are required for ITGS projects?
The first question may be: what kinds of solutions have been designed by professionals in similar situations. The ITGS Product is not expected to be of the same quality as produced by a professional, but would demonstrate a reasonable knowledge of the processes involved in producing an ITGS product.
Let’s suppose, for this purpose, the client is the supervisor of a school club or newspaper and they would like the outcome to be a DTP product.
The questions that emerge are:
- what content will be required in the journal or newspaper?
- how will it be produced? which applications will be required?
- how will it be distributed/accessed (online, printed or both)?
A good starting point is to research journals or newspapers have been produced by the school or other schools and to critically evaluation what features may be relevant to the proposed product. The sources of content will need to be determined which will also depend upon the method(s) used for development, distribution and access.
Next, once these methods have been determined, more exemplars need to be examined with respect to good practice. There are numerous online sources for ‘best practice’ in designing every type of IT product. Time is well spent in looking at the work of professionals for ideas.
Along with best practice, an accepted method of design needs to be researched. DTP products require a different type of design to journals or newspapers presented as websites. Each has their distinctive method of showing both the overall structure and internal structure of the product. Also the design of the DTP product may also be influenced if the product will only be printed or whether it will be hosted on a website such as Issuu. School examples are provided on the site.
Lastly, the student may decide to use a technique or tool for which they have little knowledge. There is a wealth of online tutorials both from the companies that develop applications and also from developers who have used the tools. YouTube is a good source for these tutorials from IT educators and consultants.
Lastly, all sources used in the development of the product must be correctly cited in Criterion D and Criterion E (as needed). The IB has produced a document for this purpose: Effective citing and referencing.
Developing a DTP product as an ITGS Project has been used as an example. However, all products require research, investigation and hands-on experimentation before designing the solution.