Information Technology in a Global Society

ITGS textbook cover Information Technology in a Global Society for the IB Diploma is the first textbook designed specifically for the IB ITGS course. Unlike the general computer science textbooks currently used by many ITGS teachers, this book is written specifically with the IB ITGS course requirements in mind, and covers all components of the new ITGS syllabus (first exams May 2012), including the Higher Level (HL) topics. It is fully illustrated with over 300 photographs, diagrams, and charts.

The book is available from Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk, and a variety of book shops.

This site supports the book with additional lesson plans, exercises, links to useful software, and other ITGS teaching resources. You can also view a detailed table of contents and download a free sample chapter.


Latest updates

Software and hardware review activity

Hardware and Software review activity

This short review or revision activity is designed to help students distinguish between the different types of computer hardware (input, output, processing, and storage) and software (operating systems and application software). These core topics are often tested in exams, so a clear understanding is essential. You can download the activity and the solution.


Updated: 2018-05-21
Self driving cars

Driverless cars and ethics

Driverless or self-driving vehicles are often promoted as being safer than human drivers. However, there may be situations in which an accident is unavoidable. In these situations, how should a driverless vehicle be programmed to behave? Which course of action should it take if all have negative outcomes? And, of course, who takes responsibility for any damage that is caused?

This is a topic which links to ITGS and TOK. The ethical dilemma of self-driving cars (video) is a good introduction. Why Self-Driving Cars Must Be Programmed to Kill and Ethics of Self-Driving Cars are great articles that examine the topic in more detail.

Uber driverless car accident

In March 2018 an accident occured which was reportedly the first death caused by a driverless vehicle. The Uber self-driving car hit and killed Elaine Herzberg, 49, in Arizona. The human monitor in the car also failed to spot the pedestrian until seconds before the collision. Uber stopped all self driving experiments in the aftermath of the crash.

Velodyne, the company that produces the sensors for the cars, reported that the sensors were working correctly - suggesting a software issue may have been the cause. It was later reported that the car's sensors detected Herzberg, but chose not to swerve as it was uncertain about the nature of the obstacle.


Updated: 2018-05-21
Child with doll

Privacy issues: News articles

In the case study Mark and Margaret raise concerns about the privacy of the data collected by the Alicia doll. There are numerous articles online which raise concerns about existing interactive toys, robots, and dolls. Mark and Margaret (and ITGS students!) would be wise to read these to better understand the underlying social and ethical issues.


Updated: 2018-05-21
3D Printed skull

3D Printing and Healthcare

Hospitals are now using 3D printing technology to turn medical scans into 3D models to plan surgeries and other treatment. 3D Systems is one such company - their web page contains a wealth of information about the technologies and techniques they employ. Another good example is Simbionix, whose site has examples of 3D printing heart models, and videos of the process.

Two good case studies are Mina Khan, who had her life saved by a 3D printed heart,and a young baby called Kaiba had his life saved by doctors using a 3D printed component to help him breathe properly.

4D animated scans of unborn babies have been around for a while now; companies such as 3D babies now offer the chance to turn these scans into 3D models.

Some researchers are also investigating how 3D printing can be used in prosthetics, particularly with a view to improving facial prostheses. How 3-D-Printed Prosthetic Hands Are Changing These Kids Lives is a video well worth watching.

The Benefits of 3D Printing Healthcare is an article from Betanews which does a good job of explaining these technologies and how they might develop in the future.


Updated: 2018-05-21
Industrial robots

Case Study: Industrial robots resources

Industrial robots are becoming ever cheaper - and increasingly they are competing with people for jobs. The International Federation of Robotics (IFR) produces annual statistics about global use of robotics, which makes an interesting read.

Robots and unemployment

The New York Times' article Skilled Work, Without the Worker is a great introduction to this topic, with many examples, photos and a video. A $22,000 humanoid robot that competes with low-wage workers (MIT Technology Review) provides a good insight into how businesses can save money with robots, and the related social impacts in the Business & Employment sector - particularly on poorer workers. It's a Man vs. Machine Recovery (Business Week) and Marathon machine (Economist) both examine this impact on unskilled workers in more detail. The Guardian argues that most people are unprepared for the pace of robotic development and unaware of the potential threat to their jobs.

More Jobs Predicted for Machines, Not People (NY Times) discusses the many areas in which robots are taking human jobs; Will there be jobs left for a human being? delves deeper into these social impacts and asks whether the end of mass employment is near. Will Robots Create New Jobs When They Take Over Existing Ones? also addresses the issues of unemployment and reskilling. How to Protect Workers From Job-Stealing Robots argues that rather than causing mass unemployment, robots will actually boost the economy.

Shift Change is a YouTube series of videos about how robotic technology can change, improve, and sometimes replace jobs. It examines how current technology might progress and the social impacts this will cause. The last job on Earth: imagining a fully automated world is another video in a similar vein.

Robots and safety

Safety is a concern wherever robots and humans are working alongside each other; heavy robotic arms could easily kill or seriously injure a nearby human worker. For this reason, robots and humans normally work in separate, fenced areas. However, Robots and Humans, Learning to work together (NY Times) discusses a new generation of robot with improved ability to sense its surroundings and work cooperately with humans.


Updated: 2018-05-21
Civilian drones

Civilian applications for drones

The military applications of drones are covered on the politics and government page. In addition to the well-publicised military uses, drones are increasingly being used for civilian purposes across many areas of the ITGS triangle.

Current civilian applications of drones include monitoring wildlife areas for suspected poachers and other illegal activity (Guardian); using drones to monitor railways for graffiti in Germany (BBC), and monitoring vineyards (BBC). The use of drones to protect swimmers by spotting sharks is also being implemented in Australia. In the future it is possible that image recognition may enable these same drones to also spot swimmers in distress.


Updated: 2018-05-21
Electronic voting

Electronic Voting articles

E-Voting impacts and issues

Report: Voting Machine Errors Highlight Urgent Need for U.S. Database (Wired) describes many, many problems that have occurred with e-voting machines in recent years. Some of them are quite unusual.  E-voting system awards election to wrong candidates in Florida (ComputerWorld) and Voting Out E-Voting Machines (TIME) both detail further problems.

Oscar's E-Voting Problems Worse Than Feared analyses the problems that faced e-voting systems designed to vote for Oscar nominees, while 'Fake votes' cast in France's first digital election (BBC) explores France's June 2013 open primary mayoral election - both articles are a stark reminder of the myriad problems facing such systems.

Finally,  this is a letter to President Obama about e-voting, written by elections officers and computer security experts - and urging him to resist calls for Internet voting. Online voting is impossible to secure examines the various security issues related to online voting, and discusses why voting is much easier to attack than other secure applications such as online banking.

Solutions

Science Daily's 'Voter-Verifiable' Voting System Ensures Accuracy And Privacy explains how paper-trails are needed on voting machines, while Aussies Do It Right: E-Voting (Wired) discusses another possible solution - open source voting software (this is a good article for students who believe open source software is "less secure".


Updated: 2018-05-21
Internet censorship

Exercise 14.1: Internet filtering, censorship, and surveillance

Internet censorship is a huge topic, and one that truly highlights the global nature of the ITGS course. It is also closely related to the IB TOK course.

As an introduction to this topic, asking students to discuss or research a little about censorship in their own countries (and their opinions of this) is often very englightening. The news articles below have been divided into general categories simply to facilitate navigation.

General articles about Internet censorship

Reporters without Borders and the Open Network Initiative (ONI) both maintain up to date information about global Internet surveillance and censorship. In addition, the following articles are useful for stimulating conversation about types of appropriate and inappropriate content, and whether government control of the internet is appropriate.

Internet censorship in Europe

Internet censorship in Asia

Internet censorship in Australia

Filtering by search engines and online services

Increasingly search engines, social networks, and other web sites may also be asked to block access to certain content - either locally or globally. This is particularly significant because millions of users rely on these services to access information: the absence of a piece of content may well be taken as an indication that the content simply does not exist. The news articles below provide examples of this type of filtering:

The digital citizenship page covers some of the potential legal impacts of online behaviour.


Updated: 2018-05-21
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