One of the questions that is requently asked is how much IT knowledge and terminology do the students need to know?

ITGS terminology is defined to be both IT terminology and terminology related to social and ethical considerations. All words in the ITGS Guide must be understood.

Because students can use any appropriate ITGS terminology that they know in their responses, any additional terminology that emerges from reading news articles or other sources can also be added to the students’ ITGS terminology list. Students often use additional terminology in their responses because it has emerged over the course of the 7-year life-time of the ITGS Guide or it has emerged from a class discussion. All ITGS terminology is considered in a student’s response to an examination question.

Besides using the depth indicated in the questions and markschemes to guide the teaching of IT systems, an additional approach is to consider, what IT background is necessary to understand the issues in the news articles? That is one of the reasons for studying IT systems. It helps students understand:

* what IT systems underpin the problem in the news article? and
* what solutions can be implemented? Some solutions are IT systems solutions.

Also news articles help place IT systems in a real context.

Looking at IT systems closely, there seem to be several approaches that can be used to help students understand IT systems:

* definition of the terminology ( in context, not just a text definition (i.e. definitions with labelled diagram)
* a diagram which demonstrates the IT system or processes involved in using the IT system (use Google images to find diagrams) with the related terminology
* a video that describes/explains the IT system or processes involved in using the IT system (YouTube, TED, videos on company sites such as Adobe, Microsoft, Apple)
* describe/explain the IT system (see definition on p4 of the ITGS Guide)
* describe/explain the step-by-step processes involved in using an IT system ( and are good sources. Which sources do you use?)

The definitions on p4 of the IT Guide are very important. In this instance,

“An information system is a collection of people, information technologies, data, processes and policies organized to accomplish specific functions and solve specific problems.”

It is very difficult to teach Strand 2 IT systems in isolation from the other parts of the Triangle. Most textbooks do this. It is a major shortcoming. Real situations (i.e. news articles or other possibilities) are very important so that the students understand IT systems in real context. For example, school networks and installations are often the best examples for teaching IT systems.

Another shortcoming in textbooks is that they reflect the bias and interest of the author. This is not a criticism. All books must be like this. So it is always up to the ITGS teacher to make certain that the information and the topics included are aligned with the ITGS Guide and with their students’ needs. The ITGS Guide is based on the Triangle. Some students enter ITGS with excellent backgrounds from pre-IB studies and others enter with none. That is why it is difficult to produce resources for ITGS.

In teaching IT Systems the right balance is needed between the ITGS Triangle, the specific IT system being taught, using a several approaches (definition, diagram/images/video, description and explanation), placing the IT system in a real context and relating the topic to the current understanding of the students.

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