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,, 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.

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Case study - Boots and Big Data

Case Study - Tesco

Supermarket giant Tesco are widely regarded as one of the pioneers of loyalty cards and customer data analytics. In the first year after their introduced their famous Clubcard, they saw sales increase by 50%. The articles and resources below help explain some of that success.

Supermarket giant Tesco pioneers big data is an excellent article that clearly explains step by step how British supermarket chain Tesco uses big data. It explains key processes including data segmentation, the use of historical data, and predictive analytics, and is an essential read for this case study.

A British Supermarket Chain Is Installing 'Creepy' Face-Scanning Cameras To Track Consumers. The supermarket in question is Tesco, who are installing cameras not for security reasons, but to recognise returning customers and present them with targeted adverts. In this case facial biometric data is being used in the same way as a traditional loyalty card number - meaning even customers without a Tesco Clubcard can be tracked.

Updated: 2015-03-01
Case study - Tesco and Big Data

Case Study - Boots Advantage Card

This detailed article offers a detailed discussion of Boots' Advantage Card - a loyalty card offered by this well-known pharmacy chain. It discusses many points central to the ITGS case study, including the cost/benefit ratio of the system and the fine-tuning of targeted advertising.

Updated: 2015-03-01

Supermarkets and Big Data

How Companies Learn Your Secrets is a very long but very revealing article about retailers' tracking of customers. With lots of specific examples and clear technical detail, this article is an essential ready for teachers and students studing the 2015 case study.

Shoppers Who Can't Have Secrets discusses the world of behavioural tracking - a key technique used in the collection of Big Data by supermarkets and other retailers. The article also examines regulation of data collection practices and data protection law.

How supermarkets get your data - and what they do with it is excellent background reading which does exactly what the headline says - and gives some good, specific examples of big data use. It also discusses the thorny area of data sharing and data aggregation.

How Target Figured Out A Teen Girl Was Pregnant Before Her Father Did is a very interesting, quite worrying example of the type of information retailers can glean from customer data.

Using big data for smarter online supermarket shopping discusses a different side of Big Data that is sometimes forgotten - the use of analytics to optimize business efficiency. The examples in this article include trying to group delivery times for online orders so they can be performed with fewer vehicles. This article is definitely worth a read, if only to remember that Big Data in supermarkets is not just about targeted advertising.

Big Data: Retailers, Supermarkets, Medical Markets All Dive In To Extract Information From And About Consumers talks about some quite unknown techniques used by supermarkets and retailers to gather customer data. Such techniques include facial recognition cameras and even the use of WiFi signals to detect the location of customers within the store so that movement patterns can be gathered. There are great examples in here that clearly relate to several ITGS social and ethical issues.

Startup Lets Retail Stores Track Shoppers As Websites Do. Websites have longed tracked visitors using cookies and similar techniques. This article discusses ways to track in-store customers even if they do not sign up for loyalty card or reward card schemes.

How Do Supermarkets Use Your Data? discusses both the collection of data via loyalty cards and ways to identify and track customers who do not own such cards - a very important point for the case study which links to other ITGS issues such as privacy and informed consent.

Data, data everywhere discusses Big Data in a variety of contexts, including retailers. It also covers some of the issues related to data collection and highlights the sheer scale of Big Data: Walmart reportedly adds 1 million records each hour to its database, which tops 2.5 petabytes in size.

Updated: 2015-03-01
Big data lesson idea
Source: Flickr

Lesson idea: Big Data background

The aim of this lesson is to understand a little bit more about Big Data in general, with students research the relevant technologies and processes in a variety of industries. This should help them more fully understand the potential of Big Data before applying their knowledge specifically to supermarkets.

You can download the lesson here.

Updated: 2015-03-01
Electronic waste solutions

Electronic waste: Environmental Policies and Solutions

Many computer manufacturers, including Microsoft, Sony, Dell, Apple, and Samsung now have environmental policies that address the chemicals they use in their hardware manufacturing processes. Several manufacturers also offer equipment recycling schemes or takeback schemes. Gazelle is another recycling programme operated by Costco.

The Electronics TakeBack Coalition is an organisation that assesses the environmental impact of different IT companies and is a useful resource that has links to many policies and takeback schemes.

Updated: 2015-02-27
Scoring Points: How Tesco Continues to Win Customer Loyalty

Scoring Points: How Tesco Continues to Win Customer Loyalty

by Clive Humby, Terry Hunt, Tim Phillips | | Kindle | Worldwide (free shipping)

Tesco's Club Card is perhaps one of the best known loyalty schemes in the UK. This book explains how the project was devised and successfully implemented. Written by two key players in the project - Clive Humby and Terry Hunt - the book does tend to focus more on a business and marketing angle. However, reading between the lines it is clear how vast quantities of data can be utilised for effective decision making.

I have included the book here because there are many examples that could be useful for the 2015 ITGS case study - Asociacion de Supermercados Independientes: An Investigation into Big Data.

Updated: 2015-02-23

Loyalty Card Schemes

The following supermarkets all offer loyalty card / reward card schemes for their customers. Reading about the schemes, their benefits, and how the supermarkets use the collected data provides an interesting insight into the 2015 case study.

British Supermarkets

US Supermarkets

Updated: 2015-02-11
Loyalty cards

Lesson idea: Loyalty cards

This is another background technology task designed to help students understand the basic concepts of loyalty card systems. This will then be built on in following lessons by examining how big data analytics can be used.

You can download the lesson here.

Updated: 2015-02-11
You can view previous updates to the website here.