Information Technology is among the newest recognized computer disciplines. The explosion of the Internet and the world-wide web, beginning in about 1992 with the advent of web browsers such as Mosaic and Navigator, created a rapidly growing community of online computer users who needed to access information of all sorts from their own computers. This dramatic growth in personal and corporate use of the Internet, along with web systems, databases, and networking, gave rise to information technology (IT) programs that specifically teach these topics.
As with the other computing disciplines, IT programs arose from various backgrounds at their institutions. Some, such as that at BYU, emerged from electronics programs. Others, such as the one at Georgia Southern, emerged from a technically-oriented IS background. The most common parent of all was CS. Each program retains some flavor of its origins, while adhering to the core pillars of the IT curriculum: networks, web systems, programming, databases, and human-computer interaction, all within the context of information security.
In December 2001, 16 of these IT programs met together near the Sundance ski resort in Utah. Hosted by BYU and RIT, this small conference was aimed at promoting a national presence for the emerging IT academic discipline. At this conference, 3 committees were formed: curriculum, accreditation, and professional society. Each of these committees produced results over the following years.
By 2005, the curriculum committee had a draft IT model curriculum completed and submitted to the joint Computing Curricula project of the ACM, IEEE and the AIS. A final version of the model curriculum was completed in 2008, and can be found here. SIGITE has compiled a summary which can be downloaded here.
Also in 2005, the accreditation committee had produced a draft IT-specific accreditation criteria for CAC of ABET, and the first ‘pilot’ program had been accredited using these criteria. As of this writing, 16 programs have been accredited under these criteria.
The third committee, professional society, was also very active. Following the first meeting in Utah, the committee sponsored conferences annually (two in 2003), under the name Society for Information Technology Education (SITE). These conferences grew to include quality peer-reviewed papers. In the summer of 2003, SITE joined with ACM to become the ACM Special-Interest Group for Information Technology Education (SIGITE). SIGITE conferences continue to be among the most important gatherings for IT educators.
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 on 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.