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

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. Other articles argue that robotics will cause unemployment, but that this may affect women more than men due to the nature of jobs that can be automated.

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: 2019-03-19
Robotic surgery

Robotic Surgery

The Da Vinci Surgical System is the most famous robotic tool to assist surgeons. HowStuffWorks is essential reading to understand the technology behind it.

Positive impacts

Perhaps unsurprisingly, many health care providers tout the benefits of robotic surgery. UC Health outlines these benefits, as does The Heart Hospital.

Negative impacts

Not everyone agrees that the impacts of such systems are positive, however. Robots Taking Record Number of Human Uteri (The Atlantic) charts the dramatic rise in robot-assisted operations, while Are Surgical Robots Worth It? (MIT) investigates some of the potential negative impacts that have been reported. Would you have robotic surgery? addresses similar issues. Cancer Patients Are Getting Robotic Surgery. There’s No Evidence It’s Better references an FDA study that found no overall benefits from robotic surgery, and found possible evidence of harm.

Training is an element of any IT system, but its importance can sometimes be forgotten. Salesmen in the Surgical suite (NY Times) is a tragic story of a patient whose operation was botched by a doctor with no previous experience on the Da Vinci Surgical System - a stark reminder that training is essential whenever new technologies are introduced.


Updated: 2019-03-19
Software reliability

Computer Reliability Exercise 2

Research the following incidents. In each case, to what extent can the system software be blamed for causing the problem? What do these accidents tell us about the issue of software reliability?


Updated: 2019-03-19
ITGS Past papers

List of ITGS Past Paper Topics

This section of the site contains a list of all ITGS past papers from 2006 to November 2018 (both Higher Level and Standard Level) plus the IB specimen papers, broken down by paper, level, and question. The general topic of each question is given, allowing teachers to easily select exams to use with their students and helping students select appropriate papers to revise.

The style of ITGS exam papers has changed over the years, even within the lifetime of a syllabus. However, old exam papers can still be used with some modification:

Pre-2012 paper 1 exams: These papers contain shorter answer questions (generally Assessment Objectives 1 and 2) that are similar to the current paper 1. To use this as current paper 1 exams requires the addition of an 8 mark essay question at the end.

Pre-2012 paper 2 exams: These papers are very similar to the current paper 1, with the exception that the final essay question is worth 10 marks instead of the current 8 marks.

May 2012 - Nov 2015: These exams contain questions that are the same format as current exams. However, the instructions are different. The HL Paper 1 contained three sections (A, B, C). In May 2016 sections B and C were merged.

May 2016 to present: These exam papers represent the current layout and style.

Download the ITGS past exam papers list (.xls).


Updated: 2019-03-18
ITGS Podcasts

ITGS Podcasts

Podcasts can be a great way for ITGS students to stay up to date with the latest technology news and issues. While many podcasts simply cover the latest releases and device udpates, several feature more in-depth analysis, discussion, and social-ethical impacts which directly relate to the ITGS syllabus.

  • NPR The NPR technology podcast focuses on in-depth discussion of technology issues, which is very useful for ITGS. The very useful archive has a back-catalog of all podcasts.
  • Spark is perfect for ITGS, focusing on the impact of technology on society and culture. Each episode is around an hour, but is also broken down into shorter, snappy extra stories of around ten minutes each.
  • BBC Click contain shorter, ITGS relevant stories in every episode. The Home tab contains the 'radio' style show, while the podcast contains separate downloadable content - so check out both.
  • Security Now! A more specialised podcast, which tends to be quite long but covers a wide range of security related issues from exploits to social engineering. The great thing about this podcast is that it is always very up-to-date.

Updated: 2018-08-17
Artificial intelligence examples

Exercise 16.6: Artificial Intelligence Examples

The links below demonstrate different types of artificial intelligence, including natural language processing, expert systems, and games-playing AI. They should be helpful in getting students to understand what types of 'intelligent' programs are available, and how their intelligence may be achieved. 
  • Eliza - a version of Joseph Weizenbaum's 'computer therapist'.
  • CleverBot - another chat bot
  • Exsys Expert Systems - expert systems demonstrations, including a dog breed selector and a restaurant advisor.
  • START - a 'Natural Language Question Answering System'.
  • 20 Questions - think of an item and answer 20 questions to see if the computer can guess it.
  • Google Translate - Offers translation in many languages - choose two that you know and check its accuracy.
  • Tic-Tac-Toe - Try to beat the computer. What does this tell you about the nature of some games?
  • Connect-4 Another example of game-playing 'intelligence'.

Updated: 2018-08-17
Atlantic magazine cover

The Atlantic magazine

Print edition | Kindle edition
The Atlantic is another source of really good, in-depth ITGS-related articles. Many of the features are quite long, but they usually cover the social impacts on a variety of stakeholders, and are great for starting classroom discussions. The magazine is available in print and digital editions.

You should also check out the web site.
Updated: 2018-08-17
Textbook exercise

Exercise 1.8

ITGS Guide: "On what basis can we trust "knowledge" acquired from a range of sources?"
ITGS Links: 1.1 Reliability and Integrity, 1.12 Digital Citizenship, 3.5 Internet

The BBC article Are we trapped in our own web bubbles? and Eli Pariser's TED talk 'Beware online filter bubbles' are two resources that discuss how personalised search results could limit our access to new information.

Search engines play a major role in providing access to knowledge and information. The order of the links appearing in search results therefore has a significant impact on the types of information that will be accessed by the majority of people (witness how many people only ever use the first page - or even half page - of search results). Additionally, some search engines and social media sites have started to use personalised search results, which can prioritise results that are similar to pages we have previously viewed - thus forming a so-called 'search bubble' or 'filter bubble' that might limit our exposure to new views.

Despite this, there is still some debate over just how significant the filter bubble effect is. A 2015 study of Facebook data suggested the effect was minimal or non-existent - but the study itself was quickly criticised. Filter bubbles returned to the media spotlight after political events including the election of Donald Trump and the UK Brexit vote. The Guardian attempted to examine the effect in 2018, while the University of Illinois has an interesting page examining the effect and presenting an experiment you can try for yourself.

This can be a useful starting point for exercise 1.8, and also links closely to the IB Theory of Knowledge (TOK) course.


Updated: 2018-08-17
You can view previous updates to the website here.