Discover the range of skills an information technology education covers.
Information technology (IT) education is an evolving discipline that covers a broad spectrum of skill sets. The academic community is currently working to integrate rapid changes in technology, traditional computer science coursework and computer engineering concepts into a coherent information technology education curriculum.
In this arena, the Special Interest Group on Information Technology Education, (SIGITE) formed by the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and the IEEE Computer Society, are major players in the ongoing effort to establish, maintain and update a model curriculum for IT education.
The SIGITE/IEEE Computer Society-sponsored conference in 2008 identified 13 knowledge areas that comprise an essential knowledge base for the IT profession. These knowledge areas come directly from the conference and provide a broad, inclusive listing of the disciplines that must be included in the modern information technology education curricula.
Information Technology Fundamentals (ITF) includes the history of computing, computer application basics, the structure and operation of computer hardware, computer maintenance and the basic concepts required for programming.
Human Computer Interaction (HCI) is the study of the interaction between computers and computer users. It covers such areas as ergonomics, accessibility, cognitive psychology and task analysis.
Information Assurance and Security (IAS) includes operational issues related to computer security, defense mechanisms designed to defeat attack algorithms, risk analysis and data recovery strategy.
Information Management (IM) is the collection, management and distribution of data. This computer discipline determines who has the right to access data and who does not. This usually involves the development and maintenance of a data-access hierarchy for ensuring that only those with the appropriate level of permissions can access and alter data.
Integrative Programming and Technologies (IPT) is a computer discipline that deals with integrating existing IT components into new data information systems. It is IPT that facilitates the appropriate use of diverse computer and scripting languages, programming interfaces, and strategies for IT security across a wide spectrum of traditional and new technologies.
Math and Science for Internet Technology (MS) identifies basic levels of proficiency in math for IT professionals, as well as elective scientific disciplines for those specializing in specific sciences or technologies.
Networking (NET) is the discipline that covers strategies for facilitating communication between the many forms of modern media. Important subject areas within NET include data infrastructure, data communications, telecommunications and inter/intranetworking. Information storage and distribution and the World Wide Web are also integral aspects of NET.
Programming Fundamentals (PF) is similar to traditional computer science curricula with an emphasis on good programming practices and problem solving. Object-oriented programming, event-driven programming and basic data structures are also covered in PF.
Platform Technologies (PT) teaches how to best integrate software and hardware into an efficient and structurally sound IT system.
Systems Administration and Maintenance (SA) covers the concepts necessary to administer networks, operating systems, software, file servers, database systems and Web systems. PT also entails system documentation and the effective support of users on the IT system.
System Integration & Architecture (SIA) helps students develop the skills needed to gather requirements and integrate diverse components into a single system. The interaction between organizational processes and project management are also covered.
Social and Professional Issues (SP) discusses how teamwork has become essential in the contemporary office environment. Oral and written communication skills are stressed as essential to professional development. SP also includes historical, professional, legal and ethical aspects of computing.
Web Systems and Technologies (WS) incorporates Web development and design, data/information architecture, security vulnerabilities, Web technology management and digital media.
The above-cited model curricula criteria underscore how broadly based and rapidly evolving the field of information technology is. Many different career paths can be followed by specializing in one or more of the above-cited IT knowledge areas or by becoming a generalist in several of them. GuidetoOnline Schools.com provides hundreds of examples of the options available to aspiring information technology students.
The field of information technology is developing quickly, making it difficult for its academic curricula to reflect the most current discoveries. As an academic discipline that once consisted of little more than basic computer programming courses (e.g., FORTRAN and COBOL), IT now touches upon and impacts almost every aspect of our lives. Opportunities in information technology continue to grow and are limited only by the imagination and personal interests of the IT student.