It’s a long-standing principle among academics that research should inform our teaching; over years of SIGITE conferences, we’ve demonstrated the bi-directionality of that relationship, as teaching has often generated the source data and motivation for our research in IT education.
In 2012, we inaugurated the Research in Information Technology (RIIT) conference as a new companion to the more “venerable” SIGITE conference. A strong motivation for launching RIIT was the need to recognize “research in IT” as more than a fragmented collection of pursuits in other computing disciplines. We have been watching a body of research develop that is uniquely characteristic of information technology. With a hands-on flavor and stronger connections with industry, it is clearly differentiating itself from research in more traditional computing disciplines, and is deserving of its own conference venue.
Information Technology is an anomaly within academia whereby it was created as an academic discipline out of a need for IT graduates. Most academic disciplines instead are created out of a new research stream. SIGITE is currently heavily involved in identifying IT research. It has been found that much/most of this research is being done “at the seams” of other computing disciplines. In order for IT as an academic discipline to grow, the identification and nurturing of this research must continue.
The discussions around IT research at the SIGITE conferences have found that while IT research is being done (several graduate programs in IT exist) by graduate students and faculty, much of it goes unpublished. One theory as to why this is happening is because most IT graduate students go into industry, where it is unnecessary that they publish their research, rather than staying in academia. It is the responsibility of IT faculty to encourage/require graduate students to submit their research for publication.
This past weekend I attended and presented at the SIGITE Conference located in Midland, Michigan. It was the second weekend in a row that I was going to be gone, and all of that in the middle of the quarter, so I wasn’t as enthusiastic going into it as I normally am about conferences. As it turns out it was the best conference experience I’ve had in a long time!
The sessions at the conference are scheduled so that each talk has a 45-minute slot, with 30 minutes for the presentation and 15 minutes for questions. In most of the sessions I attended, including my own, the questions were in fact intermixed with the presentation. And what a difference it makes to have more time and a more interactive environment. I got excellent feedback on my work and was able to provide a lot more background information than was on my slides because of the questions. The questions themselves were also terrific. I was impressed by the insight that the audience members had into the work. I also got good questions and offers for collaborations after the talk, but it was the interactive presentations that really had me hooked.
SIGITE is the Association for Computing Machinery’s Special Interest Group for Information Technology Education. Our members include information technology faculty (teachers and researchers), students, and industry professionals.
With over 400 members worldwide, SIGITE drives the creation and dissemination of the computing discipline of information technology. The organization has created a model undergraduate curriculum and helped create accreditation guidelines for IT programs, and is now defining and promoting IT research.