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Education At The Seams: Preliminary Evaluation Of Teaching Integration As A Key To Education In Information Technology

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2004 Annual Conference


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 20, 2004

Start Date

June 20, 2004

End Date

June 23, 2004



Conference Session

Curriculum Development in Information Technology

Page Count


Page Numbers

9.496.1 - 9.496.11



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Paper Authors

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Lunt Barry

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C. Richard Helps

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Joseph Ekstrom

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 1450 Education at the Seams: Preliminary Evaluation of Teaching Integration as a Key to Education in Information Technology Joseph J. Ekstrom, Barry Lunt, C. Richard Helps Brigham Young University

Abstract Information Technology (IT) is widely considered to be an integrative discipline. Many four-year IT programs accept programming, networking, web systems, databases and human-computer interaction as core topics in IT. Active discussion continues as to the best way to teach and sequence these topics. We have proposed and begun to implement a curriculum that reflects a change in orientation from focusing on the technologies to focusing on the interfaces between technologies. We believe that this approach is fundamental to IT as an academic discipline. Students receive a broad introduction to computer and communication technologies combined with an in-depth exploration of the interactions between key technologies. This enables IT students to stitch systems together with understandable, manageable and deployable seams. We report on early results of applying this curricular approach within BYU’s four-year IT program.

Introduction There is an emerging consensus among Information Technology programs that the core of an IT curriculum consists of Programming, Database, Web Technologies, Networking and Human Computer Interfacing [1]. The initial curriculum for Information Technology at BYU took the approach of including topics from Electronics Engineering Technology, Computer Science and Computer Engineering in a traditional topic-oriented approach. Other IT programs have been following a similar track [1]. During the last three years we have observed several problems in attempting to implement IT courses by tailoring courses from related disciplines to the requirements of an IT curriculum. We reported on these experiences in our networking course development at ASEE 2002[2]. We discussed similar issues for web systems and database courses at CITC III[3] and CIEC 2003[4]. At CITC IV[5] we proposed focusing on the interfaces between technologies as an overriding philosophy that should guide Information Technology curriculum design in relation to sister disciplines. This paper is a follow-up to the CITC IV work that reports on the first year of implementing the curriculum changes that were proposed. In addition, we discuss the issues that have arisen and additional changes that we are implementing to address them.

Initially we thought of IT as a “breadth” rather than “depth” coverage of topics from Computer Engineering, Computer Science, with some ideas from other disciplines and an applications orientation. However, we have come to understand that IT students require depth, but not depth on how to implement technology components. IT students require deep knowledge of the interfaces between technologies. This insight has significant Proceedings of the 2004 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & 1 Exposition Copyright © 2004, American Society for Engineering Education

Barry, L., & Helps, C. R., & Ekstrom, J. (2004, June), Education At The Seams: Preliminary Evaluation Of Teaching Integration As A Key To Education In Information Technology Paper presented at 2004 Annual Conference, Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--13988

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