April 27, 2015
by Zena Taha-Bjorgen


Students studying ITGS, or Information Technology in a Global Society, learn about the use of technology in various aspects of their lives, analyzing its benefits and the drawbacks. They also get to come up with solutions to overcome any challenges that may accompany these technologies. Studying ITGS online allows students to use technology in order to learn about the use of technology, and I think there is no better way to do so!

One of the areas that students study throughout the 2-year ITGS course is the use of technology in education. I’d like to share with you a collaborative assignment that the Year 2 SL students have been working on over the past several weeks. This assignment includes dividing the students into groups of four. Each group was tasked with researching one of the emerging technologies used in education, such as game-based learning, the use of mobile apps, and gesture-based computing.

Students are asked to use a Web 2.0 tool to collaborate and present their final work. Because the students in each group are located in different time zones, they have to adapt to the challenges of working together from a distance. Some of the tools my students have used include Google SlidesPrezi,  Wix, and wikis. In this latest group project, they all collaborated together using Piktochart.

Each group assigned a leader who created a Piktochart account, then shared the login credentials in a discussion forum dedicated for that group. The students then started their research and presented ideas and topics that should be included in the final product. Once they all agreed on the elements of their projects, each group began working on their Piktochart.

This activity not only helps students learn about these technologies, but also teaches them important skills like communication and self-management. Students learn to use the discussion forum to collaborate, organize their work, and finally to tackle the sections they were assigned.

The final product is to be submitted by the leader of the group once the whole group approves of it; because students use the discussion forum for all their communication, I was able to stay in the loop with each project and follow up when needed. This is a prime example of how students work together in an online ITGS class.

Now, I would like to share some of the Piktocharts that were submitted by the students. I hope you enjoy them!

Game-Based Learning

Mobile Apps: Socrative By MastertConnect 

Gesture-Based Learning

Written by Zena Taha Bjorgen, Head of ITGS dept.
 Zena Taha Bjorgen


October 21, 2014
by Zena Taha-Bjorgen

What is ITGS all about?

While the IB Diploma Programme has many distinctive elements, ITGS is one of the subjects that is the least well understood. Unlike more familiar school subjects it is inherently interdisciplinary, emphasizes social/ethical issues, and yet requires enough technical knowledge to make
judgements about the use of the technology. This multi‐faceted focus on critical 21st century issues makes ITGS relevant and exciting for students.

The IB Diploma Programme information technology in a global society (ITGS) course is the study and evaluation of the impacts of information technology (IT) on individuals and society. It explores the advantages and disadvantages of the access and use of digitized information at the local and global level. ITGS provides a framework for the student to make informed judgments and decisions about the use of IT within social contexts.

Although ITGS shares methods of critical investigation and analysis with other social sciences, it also considers social and ethical considerations that are common to other subjects in group 3. Students come into contact with IT on a daily basis because it is so pervasive in the world in which we live. This increasingly widespread use of IT inevitably raises important questions with regard to the social and ethical considerations that shape our society today. ITGS offers an opportunity for a systematic study of these considerations, whose range is such that they fall outside the scope of any other single discipline.

ITGS, which is focused on the social impacts of IT systems, is significantly different to Computer Science which is focused on the fundamental concepts of computational thinking that utilise an experimental and inquiry-based approach to problem solving. ITGS is about how people are affected by systems already in use and those planned for the future. Computer science looks first at the technology and then later at its interaction with those affected by it.

For students ITGS is a valuable course. Developments in IT systems have effectively created a second industrial revolution. As the relationship between human beings and IT systems continues to evolve, ITGS will provide young people with the tools to address the effects of this revolution. Furthermore, ITGS will also uniquely prepare young people with the wisdom to be informed and responsible citizens of tomorrow.

The value of ITGS is what it offers students. In a future world where IT systems will form critical infrastructures, they will be defining the social effects of those systems, developing societal resilience and attempt to resolve the ethical issues raised by their use. ITGS will give them tools to do just that.

Based on the article “What is ITGS all about” by Richard Taylor – http://occ.ibo.org/ibis/occ/Utils/getFile2.cfm?source=/ibis/occ/home/subjectHome.cfm&filename=dp/gr3/itgs/d_3_itgsx_tsm_1305_1_e.pdf  – 30 August 2014
and on the Information Technology in a Global Society Guide 2012 – International Baccalaureate Organization (pages 4-5)

Post prepared by: Eli Bomfim, ITGS teacher, Principal Examiner for ITGS Extended Essays, ITGS Projects and Paper 1 HL in English and in Spanish and an ITGS workshop facilitator.


August 27, 2014
by Zena Taha-Bjorgen

Introduction to ITGS Case Study: An Investigation into Big Data

I know you’ve been shopping today!

Walmart Grocery Checkout Line in Gladstone, Missouri

Walmart Grocery Checkout Line in Gladstone, Missouri, by Walmart Corporate.

Cashier: Hello Madam, hope you enjoyed your shopping experience with us today?

Me: Yes thank you.

Cashier: Do you have your loyalty card Madam?

Me: Yes, here.

Cashier: Oh! Mrs Makhoul, lovely to see you again. You haven’t been to our shop for the past 2 weeks! Hope everything is ok? I have good news for you as your total is more than $100 you get 2 boxes of the berries you love for the price of one!

Me: Not today, thanks.

Cashier: Oh! What about trying the new diet chocolate biscuits we have. We know you cannot resist chocolate!!

Me: No, thank you. maybe another time!

Cashier: How about…

Me: Can I just pay for God’s sake!

It can keep on going and going until you lose your mind…these are today’s supermarkets! They are like the Big Brother watching us, they know when we come in, what we buy, what we like, whether we prefer paying in cash or credit…they collect Big Data about their customers, so big that you feel they have been watching you or even living with you.

If you want to compete in today’s business world you surely need a pool of information about your current, past, and future clients. Data collection is becoming an integral part of day-to-day transaction. Businesses want to know who you are, what is your color preferences, your best perfume, where you go for shopping…etc.

Supermarkets have embraced this technology and have started collecting data about their customers as an approach to expand their market and increase their sales and profit. They collect our information, and we willingly give it to them, to see our shopping habits and target us with personalized offers by emails or SMS…

So how do they do that?

Loyalty Cards

“Yeahhhh I got my Harrods loyalty card! “ What an excitement we feel every time we get a loyalty card! Will we still be excited after receiving our credit card statement of account which will surely increase as we will be spending more and more with each card?

Tesco, Sainsbury, Spinneys… were among the first giants hypermarkets to start the loyalty card system to collect information about their customers. Many clients feel privileged to have those cards without knowing the amount of personnel data they are offering to those companies.

Loyalty cards are one of the most important tools that help customers spending more and more without even realizing it. Another important point we miss as clients, is that this information is shared by others! So no one knows who else can see our shopping habits, when and where have we been, and whether or not we are healthy shoppers…

Items displays are done according to this data collection. The supermarkets can tell how loyal you are and will help you becoming more loyal by displaying your preferred items in the best places at competitive prices. Or at least this is what we think!

As Guy Montagues-Jones of the Grocer said: “If you have a loyalty card or shop online, the supermarkets will build up a demographic profile of you, and collect data about how loyal you are, what you buy and how much you spend”.  So your search criteria will then be personalized and you will be able to easily find what you are looking for.

Donna Feguson from the Guardian wrote an interesting article where she mentioned how Tesco used data from its 16 million Clubcard holders. They analysed data from those clients to target ads to online users of its new free movie service. “Launched in March, this streaming site also offers TV shows such as The Only Way is Essex, and is available to anyone with a computer and a broadband connection.

But in order to tune in, you have to register your Clubcard number and postcode. Clubcard TV director Scott Deutrom posted on his blog that “we can target adverts based on what our customers bought yesterday” (a Tesco spokesperson later claimed this was just “a vision” at the moment). “

Electronic Point of Sale

Another way of collecting data is by monitoring what we buy through the EPOS. So supermarkets can analyse what is selling more or less and what is in demand. Then they can order accordingly from suppliers, have offers, stock items in relevant places…etc. So basically it helps supermarkets in improving the way they are doing their businesses in order to get more profits. All the stock information is stored in the stock control databases and information about stock level, prices, suppliers….can be easily retrieved. Relational databases allow supermarkets to contact and even order their stock when needed automatically. So their stock is always up to date and it provides accurate information, faster transactions and less errors; this keeps customer happy.

Debit/Credit cards

Debit/Credit cards offer also a range amount of information. Cashiers obviously won’t be able to see details of your spending but cards companies sell your information to retailers so they can analyze them. They can even check who you are as your name is tied to the card. So Big Data is also available from these cards. But where is our privacy?

Data Protection

We are living in a digital world, so does privacy really exist? We have GPS in our car, we have smart phones that we use to check in here and there, we use social media and our photos are now everywhere. So is it really a big deal if our information is being shared by retailers?

We sign forms allowing retailers, websites, social media…to use our information, but do we really know what we are signing? I bet no one has ever read these lengthy forms written in font size 8! They are not meant to be read! Legally all companies cover themselves. So yes, they can use this Big Data as we gave them permission. They do emphasize that they are fully complied with Data Protection!

So what’s next? What can I do?

Big Data is already too big and information is spreading fast. I cannot see how to slow it down or not be part of it. Even if we throw away all our cards and decide to start paying in cash companies can and will take your information. Every time we try to pay in cash we get a tempting offer: Use our app and pay half the price! So we do it. We are living in a digital world and it is very hard to decide to isolate ourselves and not be part of it. I know this causes lots of social and ethical isues but aren’t the advantages more? Usually only adults are supposed to use these cards. So adults should have the rational thinking and should be able to weigh up the pros and cons of those cards and decide accordingly how often and where to use them. The temptation is sometimes uncontrollable especially for the female gender like me who loves shopping! So we need to try and control ourselves ladies!

By the way does anyone know if Selfridges has a loyalty card?

Post written by: Samar Aad Makhoul, ITGS teacher.

July 16, 2014
by Zena Taha-Bjorgen

Goal or no goal …Goal line technology is the judge…or not?

football by Keistutis

Technology is everywhere and this year it was even present at the FIFA world cup 2014! This technology was used to judge whether the ball has crossed the line or not during the match of France and Honduras and caused lots of confusion.  So what is it all about?

According to an article published in the guardian on June 16th 2014, there are several systems approved by the FIFA:

  •  GoalControl: German-produced GoalControl was the  system  used at the World Cup in Brazil. It used 14 high-speed cameras mounted around the stadium – seven pointed at each goal – to track the flight of the ball and detect whether it has cross the goal line or not.
  • Hawk-Eye: Hawk-Eye is already used in cricket, tennis and snooker, and like GoalControl employs high-speed video cameras dotted around the pitch to triangulate and track the position and flight of the ball. Seven cameras are required per goal mouth, allowing the system to still operate when several cameras are blocked. Hawk-Eye was used in the 2013-2014 Premier League season in the UK.
  • Cairos GLT system: Cairos Technologies and Adidas produce a system that does not rely on cameras, instead using a magnetic field to track the ball. A sensor is embedded inside the ball, which detects the magnetic field produced by thin wires run underneath the penalty box. A computer tracks the position of the ball via the sensor and detects when the ball crosses the goalline.
  • Goalminder: Another camera-based system, Goalminder uses high-speed cameras built into the goal posts and crossbar to deliver visual evidence only to the referee, leaving it to the judgement of the officials.
  • GoalRef: GoalRef uses a similar magnetic field-based technology to Cairos GLT, but instead of the ball acting as a sensor, the goal frame detects the passing of the ball.


Social and ethical concerns:

Despite all the advancement in this technology it is not perfect and many issues come to our mind!  The first issue is that the system is not entirely automated. The system sends an encrypted message to the referee’s watch in less than a second but it is the referee who will make the final decision based on that notification. So the decision does not come directly from the system. Can we trust the referee’s decision? Who else will see that encrypted message? Why isn’t the system transparent and is broadcasted life on a screen so everyone can see it? So many questions can be raised to question the integrity of the decision.

Surely the reliability of the system should not be an issue as it must have been thoroughly tested before being approved by the FIFA.  But if it is reliable why cannot we rely on it 100% and we still need referees? Will the technology have an impact on the game ‘s culture?  The big question is can technology change the tradition of the soccer game?

On the other hand there are also social issues we need to consider, such as COST. Of course wealthy governments will have no problem spending $250,000 per stadium on this technology but what about less fortunate countries? How would citizens react to that cost knowing that they lack school, hospitals, and appropriate health care among other things…? That creates a digital divide between soccer clubs as not everyone can afford this technology. Is that ethical?

Another issue is psychological. The soccer fans from the old generation will not easily accept the invasion of technology to their game. They will not trust it and they might argue its efficiency.

So there is a debate related to the use of GLT in football matches and not everyone fancies it. Many people are against this technology and they believe this will impact the magic of the game. Platini refers to football as “Humans”, part of its charm and enduring appeal is the margin for error; its subjective nature; and the drama of fast-paced refereeing decisions.

This technology has been introduced to other types of games such as golf, cricket and tennis. Why is it different with soccer? GLT should help the referees in their decision- making and remove pressure. Viewers will be able to see the game from a different angles.  As Arsene Wenger argued in 2008: “when you love football you like justice to be respected. You should use what is available in order to be right in decision-making. Why should a team be allowed a goal that wasn’t in?”

Like in any implementation of a new technology you always have people who are with and people who are against. Usually reluctant people are afraid of the change. Sometimes they are too emotionally attached to their old habits and traditions. So some football lovers might be afraid that technology will kill the charm of their game!

Embracing technology is now a must. Other technology features might soon be implemented. So it is becoming inevitable to escape it. However, the implementation should be done in phases with proper planning so that people can accept it without too much damage. After all technology should aid sports decision without hindering its charm and magic!

Post written by: Samar Aad Makhoul, ITGS teacher.

April 22, 2014
by Zena Taha-Bjorgen

Article Analysis in ITGS

In our ITGS courses, students learn how to analyze articles with a focus on the social and/or ethical issues that arise on individuals and groups, or what we call as “stakeholders”. Students also must highlight who these stakeholders are and what information technology is included within the systems mentioned in these articles.

By Filosofias filosoficas (File:Filos segundo logo.JPG) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Image by Filosofias via Wikimedia Commons

Here is an example of one of my students’ analysis for an excellent article. The analysis is done by Maggie Zhao, an ITGS SL – Year 1 students.

Article:  Computer-Mediated Communication and Globalization: Considering Social, Academic, and Business Factors by Ashley R. Norris.


  • A summery of the articleThis article discusses digital media and its impact on globalization. It defines digital media as “communication that takes place between human beings via the instrumentality of computers.” It goes on to explain globalization in much the same way the Web is. Globalization 1.0 was when Christopher Columbus proved the world was not round. Globalization 2.0 was the Industrial Revolution and 3.0 in the 2000s. With each new ‘version’ the world becomes ‘smaller.’ From a social outlook, computer-mediated communication allows anyone to create global relationships through media like Skype and Facebook. Most importantly its allowed face-to-face communication between humans. In terms of education, it has given many students the opportunity to study even if they have full-time jobs or families to care for. It has helped to educate people who would not have had a chance to. This article elaborates the most on the impact on business. It has given businesses a way to reach an extensive clientele that they never would have had before. Furthermore, they have new ways of engaging employees and sharing information. All in all, computer-mediated communication has helped to make the world a little smaller for everyone and thus has furthered globalization.
  • Scenario: The impact of computerized media from a social, educational and business outlook.
  • Stakeholders: Anyone who uses digital resources/sites for socializing (i.e. Skype, Facebook), learning (i.e. online dictionaries, online encyclopedia) and for business (i.e. Google Calendar, Evernote, Google Docs, USBs, email). The stakeholder category is very wide because most people in the world have come into contact with a computer/tablet/phone at some point in their lives and many of these people use it in their daily lives.
  • Social/Ethical Implications: Computer-mediated communication has helped to connect people from all around the world who never would have known each other, so naturally it causes social implications. People are able to form friendships and maintain them with the use of social media.
  • IT System: Computers are the hardware involved and the Internet is involved too! Software like Microsoft and any app that involves interaction between two devices is involved too.
  • Applications to specified scenario: All three aspects, social, educational and business, are affected by computerized media. It’s made communication more efficient and accessible.


October 26, 2013
by Zena Taha-Bjorgen

Distracted by Social Networks?

Recently my online students were discussing the pros and cons of using the Internet and the different Web 2.0 tools in their everyday lives. I wasn’t surprised when I read some of my students’ “confessions” about being distracted by various social networking sites, and how five minutes of checking their Facebook accounts or watching YouTube videos turned into hours of wasted time.

Social Networks

Social Networks

Most of my Year-One students are taking an online course for the first time. Of course, they need their computers and the Internet in order to login to the classroom and to do their coursework. For online learning, social network distractions can be a more serious issue than for face-to-face learning.

If you are one of these students who sit in front of your computer with the intention of getting some work done, when in reality you find yourselves with absolutely nothing done two hours later, here are a few free apps that might help you regulate your time more effectively:

StayFocused:  This is a productivity extension for Google Chrome that helps you stay focused by restricting the amount of time you can spend on social networking websites. Once your allotted time has been used up, the sites you have blocked will be inaccessible for the rest of the day.

WasteNoTime: Another browser extension that includes a time tracking feature, which provides you with reports on which websites you spent most of your time. In addition, you may set up a block list to automatically block specific websites once you have spent your pre-determined amount of time on them each day. This browser extension can be downloaded for Google Chrome or Safari on Macs.

SelfControl: A free Mac application that can help you avoid distracting websites. It allows one to block access to pre-selected sites for a period of time.

Additional apps like Cold Turkey, Freedom, and Anti-Social provide similar functionality for a small fee (ranging from $10-15 US), and can be downloaded for both PC and Mac.

If you struggle with online distractions, you are not alone; other people also share these same distractions and that’s why these apps exist.  Give them a try. It might work for you too!

Written by Zena Taha Bjorgen, Head of ITGS dept.

April 30, 2013
by Zena Taha-Bjorgen

Is Teleworking actually working?

Read this article about Teleworking and what yahoo has decided to do about the fact that there are less and less staff physically resent in their offices and some of the issues that could potentially arise from that.

The article can be found here: http://www.nzherald.co.nz/wired/news/article.cfm?c_id=1501834&objectid=10872282


July 29, 2012
by Zena Taha-Bjorgen

Delays as Housing NZ switches to new computer system

This news article is related to the topic of Project Management and looks at one of the change over methods used to implement a new computer system: Direct changeover. It will be interetsing to see over time how the changeover goes as there are many potential problems with this changeover method.

You can read the whole article http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10823099

June 14, 2012
by Zena Taha-Bjorgen

Children and the dangers of social neworking

 This article looks at the issue of childrens social networking sites and the situaton where pedophiles have been creating accounts in order to give them access to these children.

There are several ethical issues at stake here and also monetary ones as sponsors of the site are reviewing their investments.

See the whole article http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-18445200

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