Letter 1 and Letter 2

Dear ...
Thank you for your comments regarding from the projects that you have supervised. I think this discussion is invaluable to other ITGS teachers. To simplify the response, I have copied your posting and will add additional comments in brown.
We are having so many issues with school-based projects that I will be strongly recommending to my new class that they find a client outside of the school setting or a setting/problem within the school that they are not famililar with (for example, in another school section such as the Elementary school). This is because the student tends to use their own knowledge of the situation/problem/setting and therefore does not rely on what their client tells them and does not interview the client in enough depth.

This could be a solution, but I have found that students are much more enthusiastic about the project if it is closely related to what they know, someone they know or an area where they also have a personal interest. I will outline a kind of situation which I have found works well. One of my students developed a website for the IB biology teacher capturing all aspects of the field study. The biology teacher wanted the website as a way to explain to future students and their parents what would be involved in the field study the next year and a way of organizing the information and photos from the current field study.
The student who developed this project was involved in the field study and was planning on continuing in university in his field studies. He had a genuine interest in creating this website for the IB biology teacher and could meet with him frequently at every stage of development. This helped keep the project on course and meet the client’s needs.
All of my students developed projects for clients who were in school or a member of the school community (i.e. parent, staff member or other person who realized the importance of the ITGS project in the diploma program). This is very helpful to me as the supervising teacher. I was able to discuss any questions that emerged regarding the project directly with the client and troubleshoot if necessary. I have seen some very horrible situations in ITGS projects where the client is not involved in the school community (i.e. they do not provide the necessary content material for the project and then drop out of the project) leaving the student with the situation of having to start over.
The biggest challenge in criterion A is that students need to be taught how to write good interview questions and how to record the interview. This is a new skill for them. A possible process for this in the context of the ITGS project:

1. teach what makes a good interview/interview questions which may also be useful for the extended essay (i.e. choosing the right time/environment to interview, allowing time for the interview, no yes/no type questions).
2. ask students to outline what they know about the requirements in criterion A: the key points regarding the present situation, the inadequacies of the situation are, what they would envision could be possible solutions.
3. Students should then formulate open-ended questions that where the client may/may not respond with the same points that the student initially outlined. This allows for new responses. The student can then follow up during the interview with additional questions about the current situation and inadequacies that they had perceived. Students need to realize that the questions that they go into an interview with are not engraved in stone.
4. After the students have drafted their questions, they may wish to test them on a fellow student to see if they are clear. This only takes a few minutes.
5. Arrange a suitable time and place for the interview and provide the client with the questions in advance.
6. Test the recording equipment that will be used and get the agreement of the client for it to be recorded. Alternatively, the student can also write the responses from the client.
7. A word-for-word transcript of the interview is not required. Either a summary or transcript is fine. The summary could be provided under each question. It is important that the client see the summary or transcript and sign. The summary or transcript can be scanned as a pdf and linked to the cover page.

Any additional suggestions?

This is what is panning out:

A The inadequacies of the current situation in A lack supporting evidence from the client;

Totally agree. This was a major problem in past projects and the interview is a way of providing evidence. Criterion A links well with TOK (Ways of Knowing).

B The justification of the solution are often based on the student's own knowledge of the workings of the school;
Can you provide an example? The justification should actually be the rationale behind the choice of the proposed solution and the requirements specification. Rather than repeat the list here, on page 63 of the ITGS guide there is a list of bullet points that the student should consider in addition to the requirements specification.

C The schedule is all over the place as the student has easy access to the client and the steps in the design cycle are not always followed sequentially; also the implentation and hand-over with training needs to be clearly documented and dated.
I would suggest that the students use Example 1 in the TSM as a basis for formulating their schedule and making adaptations as needed. The schedule is based on the entire process of working from criterion A through criterion G. When planning criterion C, they complete the first columns and then fill in the others as they work on their project. Criterion C replaces the logbook in the previous ITGS guide and is a project management tool for the teacher to see what progress is being made.

D & E The design is not clearly articulated as the student seems to know exactly what the client wants but does not document this clearly. In future, I am going to insist that students have a number of formal meetings in order to come up with the final design to avoid the 'design on the fly approach' - combining the design with the creation step! They must get the final design signed off by the client before they start the create stage - however they may need to experiment in order to come up with the final deisgn and that some of the experiementation may be incorporated into the final product.
You are absolutely right! Criterion D must be agreed with the client before the student begins to develop the product. There is a phase of experimentation and learning specific tools. Students do not enter into the project knowing all of the tools that they will need to use. Through the project and problem solving, they acquire many new skills. It is also important for students to investigate good practices in using various tools and excellent examples for ideas for their product.
In this phase students also need to be taught how to carefully document their sources both with the product as needed and in the documentation.
The biggest problem that I see in criterion E is that students are not actually drafting criterion E as they are developing. They need to take the screenshots and save them so that they can place circles, arrows on them later. I would actually advise that students place the screenshot and explanation regarding how the complexity was achieved using specific tools as they work. They can add the circles, arrows later when they finish the product. Again I would advise that the students look at Example 1 criterion E in the TSM.

F Evaluation Stage - often again the future recommendations are again something that are not fully discussed with the client as the student is all too aware of possible scenarios.
Criterion F is the testing of the product and the client must verify that it meets the conditions in criterion B, D and F are linked together. Some students to not see the connection. On the feedback form the client can also be consulted regarding recommendations for future development. This way the evidence for both the evaluation of the product and recommendations for future development have been recorded.

In terms of going back over the full first draft - I have found that the Hula project has given me lots to discuss with the students and therefore together we have come up with suggestions as to how the Hula student could have improved their project - my hope/goal is that these suggestions are taken onboard by my students and applied to their projects.
The examples in the TSM are good at the beginning to show what the expectation would be for the project and criterion-by-criterion, use of the zip file and the entire process. Example 1 is complete so that it demonstrates one way the criteria can be addressed. Students should formulate their own responses to the criteria because the nature of the clients, problems and products will be different.
The Hula Commercial project is a very good example to discuss because it is a contrast to the other examples and it did not receive high marks and could have.
I apologize for the longish response, but hope you and others find it helpful.

Dear ...
Thank you for your comments regarding from the projects that you have supervised. I think this discussion is invaluable to other ITGS teachers. To simplify the response, I have copied your posting and will add additional comments

Question 1: Why is C given 1 mark - it's not complete, the student does not provide an outline of the schedule for the stages.

1 mark was awarded as “best fit” of what the student submitted with the assessment criterion C.

">Question 2: How many posters would be appropriate? In this project, in schedule C - planning was for 3 posters. However, through G, only one poster was submitted as the product - although in D, there were screen shots of the 3 posters and these 3 posters were discussed by the librarian in the feedback interview (although not documented in E).

There is not a set number of posters. There must be a sufficient number to meet the requirements of the client. In this particular case, where the librarian wanted posters for a campaign, one would expect a series of posters. In an earlier posting, I recall that the ITGS teacher was proposing 8 -10 posters for a particular project. It is difficult to specify a set number. However, for the READ campaign, I could envision a series of 8 -10 posters being a reasonable number.

In order to submit the project as one product, it was suggested that the posters could be made available through a website. The website would serve as a “container” for the posters. There are varied designs for doing this. One way would be to display a web-friendly version of each poster on a website highlighting the campaign. The A3 downloadable pdf version could also be made available from the website.

If I would be advising such a project, I would get more mileage out of the website and the posters. I would place a focus on the design/content of the website and posters: i.e. poster and with a possible quote from the teacher about reading on the webpage or the teacher talks about the book (i.e. podcast). I think that there was a lot that could have been done with the idea.

Question 3: What complex techniques could be used if the solution was a series of posters?

Complexity can be achieved in two ways:

  • Complexity can be achieved through the use of the tools used to create the posters and
  • also be adding functionality to the website there the posters are displayed.

An example of adding functionality to a website is included in Example 1 Keith Findlater Photography where all of the images creatively opened in an expanded view when they were clicked on. To see this go to one of the images with a blue border in the zipped version of the TSM. Unfortunately, this feature is not working on the online TSM. If a student simply clicks "enhance" to edit the colors in iPhoto or uses a filter to change the effect in Photoshop. This is not a complex skill. However, if the student actually investigates how to edit a background image using a sequence of steps and techniques advised by a professional photographer and uses this, then this could be considered an advanced technique providing the process and how it was used is well documented. This is just one example and there are many more.

Question 4: What would be expected in the internal structure vs overall structure for this type of project for D?

Now that we have one product being the website, it is quite easy to see that the overall structure of the product is the structure of the website (see ITGS FAQs for criterion D).

The internal structure would be the design of each webpage and the design of the various posters.

The greater the detail in both the overall structure and in the internal structure and the design, will save so much time in the actual development of the product and head-off potential problems.


Page Manager: Barbara Stefanics