Information Technology in a Global Society

ITGS textbook cover Information Technology in a Global Society for the IB Diploma is the first textbook designed specifically for the IB ITGS course. Unlike the general computer science textbooks currently used by many ITGS teachers, this book is written specifically with the IB ITGS course requirements in mind, and covers all components of the new ITGS syllabus (first exams May 2012), including the Higher Level (HL) topics. It is fully illustrated with over 300 photographs, diagrams, and charts.

The book is available from,, and a variety of book shops.

This site supports the book with additional lesson plans, exercises, links to useful software, and other ITGS teaching resources. You can also view a detailed table of contents and download a free sample chapter.

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Snowden DVD

Snowden |

Oliver Stone's film covers Edward Snowden's life from working in the US Army and applying to the CIA, to joining the NSA. The story culminates, of course, in his leaking of classified document to the press.

Snowden is faster and more action based than documentaries like Citizen Four. That said, unlike many films based on real events, it doesn't tend to dramatize or composite storylines or characters. For ITGS students this is a good thing, as it provides plenty of factual material to work with. The technical details about how mass surveillance is performed and a discussion of the larger impacts are not quite to the level required by ITGS students, but they should provide a good basis for classroom discussion and debate.

Snowden didn't really win a large amount of praise when it was released (many felt the film played it too safe). However, I found it quite entertaining and it certainly generated quite a discussion in my class after we had finished watching it.

Updated: 2017-04-14
Woman running

Activity data and insurance companies

One privacy concern with activity trackers is the use of data by insurance companies. The case study booklet says "Adel Astuti, the health consultant, wanted to further develop KHTs relationships with hospitals, health providers and insurance companies" (line 70).

How Wearing a Fitness Tracker Can Lower Your Insurance examines the benefits now offered by some insurance companies in the US. In some cases these could be worth over $1000 in saved premiums. Computer World exmaines in detail the points benefits offered by one company for wearing its Internet-connected FitBit. also offer discounts on their insurance.

Updated: 2017-02-08
Activity tracker privacy

Data privacy

The case study booklet introduces the issue of privacy on line 111. As can be seen from many examples on this site, privacy can be an issue even when data is seemingly anonymous. has a great analysis of the privacy policies for several major fitness brands and products, including FitBit, Apple Watch, Garmin, and the Xiaomi Mi Band. This article is much easier to read and understand than the dense policies on most company's sites. Are Fitbit, Nike, and Garmin Planning to Sell Your Personal Fitness Data? is another analysis of these policies.

Every Step you Fake is an indepth report on the privacy, security, and integrity issues related to several modern activity trackers. Digital Trends has a summary of the report.

Updated: 2017-02-08
Activity tracker

Impacts of activity trackers

Perhaps inevitably there is some debate about the advantages of activity trackers. Indeed, the NY Times has reported that Fitness Trackers Might Help Us Live Longer, May Make Us a Bit Fit, and May Undermine Weight Loss Efforts.

This blog from the Harvard Medical School discusses an activity tracker study which was published in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine (AJPM).

CIO discusses the benefits and drawbacks of using activity monitors to improve employee fitness, which is slightly side tracking from the case study but is still an interesting and useful read.

Fitness trackers unlikely to make you healthier, say scientists (Telegraph) argues exactly what the title suggests. TeleHealth doesn't improve quality of life (The Atlantic) takes a similar view.

Updated: 2017-02-08
GPX analysis graph

Analysing GPX and TCX files

Line 50 of the case study booklet talks about programs to analyse XML, GPX, and TCX data files. There are a number of online services that will do this. Using these services with some example data can help understand the analysis options available:

A useful exercise might also be to examine the privacy policies of these sites to see how they store and use user data (case study line 68).

Updated: 2017-02-08
ANT+ protocol logo

ANT+ protocol

This Is Ant has a good overview of the ANT+ protocol and its benefits. The developer page goes into more detail about how the protocol works. Bike Rumour also clearly explains the benefits of ANT+ - specifically in relation to cycling, but relevant to all uses.

Updated: 2017-02-08
GPX Example file

Example XML, GPX, and TCX files

Wikiloc is a great resource for files in the GPX format, and contains details of trails from all over the world. Students can download these files, examine them in a text editor, and use them with tools like Google Earth Pro in order to better understand how they work.

Garmin's developer page also has example files in GPX and TCX formats, which can be viewed in a web browser.

Updated: 2017-02-08
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