Academic journal article Issues in Informing Science & Information Technology

Defining the IT Curriculum: The Results of the Past 3 Years

Academic journal article Issues in Informing Science & Information Technology

Defining the IT Curriculum: The Results of the Past 3 Years

Article excerpt

Introduction

In the first week of December of 2001 representatives from 15 undergraduate information technology (IT) programs from colleges/universities across the country gathered together near Provo, Utah, to develop a community and begin to establish academic standards for this rapidly growing discipline. This first Conference on Information Technology Curriculum (CITC-1) was also attended by representatives from two professional societies, the Association for Computing Machine (ACM) and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc. (IEEE), and also the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology, Inc. (ABET). This invitational conference was the culmination of an effort begun several months earlier by five of these universities who had formed a steering committee to organize a response from existing IT programs to several initiatives to define the academic discipline of IT. The steering committee wanted to ensure that the input of existing programs played a significant role in the definition of the field.

A formal society and three main committees were formed by the attendees of CITC-1. The society was the Society for Information Technology Education (SITE); one of the committees formed was the executive board for SITE, composed of a president, vice-president, secretary, treasurer, regional representatives, and an activities chairperson. The other two committees formed were the IT Curriculum Committee, including subcommittees for 4-year and 2-year programs, and the IT Accreditation Committee, also including subcommittees for 4-year and 2-year programs.

The development of IT as an academic discipline is similar to the process that computer science (CS) went through in the 70's and 80's. In fact, looking at the placement of CS programs in academic institutions around the U.S. illustrates the debate that swirled around the discipline as its core was being defined. Some CS programs are in departments of mathematics, others are in engineering schools, and many others have become mainstay programs within newly emerging colleges of computing.

Information technology, as it is practiced at this moment in its evolution, reflects similar growing pains. IT programs exist in colleges of computing, in CS departments, in schools of technology, and in business schools. Professors of information technology possess degrees in information systems, electronics, communications, graphics arts, economics, mathematics, computer science, and other disciplines. Few to none of them have a degree in information technology.

It should be acknowledged here that IT has two substantially different interpretations, and that these should be clarified. Information Technology (IT) in its broadest sense encompasses all aspects of computing technology. IT, as an academic discipline, focuses on meeting the needs of users within an organizational and societal context through the selection, creation, application, integration and administration of computing technologies.

Procedure

The participants of CITC-1 participated in a Delphi study. A Delphi study is characterized by questions being asked of experts, who then respond freely to them. Their responses to the questions are shared with other experts, who then may modify their previous responses as they feel necessary. This sharing repeats until the opinions of the experts appear to be converging. (Brown, 1968; Dalkey, 1967, 1969; Dalkey, & Helmer, 1951; Dalkey, Rourke, Lewis, & Snyder, 1972).

The format of the Delphi study was chosen due to the fact that the relevant experts (the conference attendees) were all co-located. They were judged experts because all had worked in IT prior to teaching, and all were familiar with the closely related computing disciplines of Computer Science and Information Systems. Each participant was issued a pad of self-adhesive sticky notes and a blunt felt-tip marker. Then the entire group was given 20 minutes to generate as many topics as they could, one topic per sticky note. …

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