What is an ITGS extended essay?An ITGS extended essay needs to focus on the social impacts (positive or negative) information technology has on society. The EE also needs to clearly cover the information technology in enough detail to make it clear how it causes the problem. In short, the EE needs to cover all parts of the ITGS triangle. As the IB Extended Essay guide says:
ITGS extended essay should examine how an IT system or systems has affected people in positiveand/or negative ways, with particular reference to the underlying technology.
(Extended Essay Guide, First exams 2013, IB)
ITGS EEs should not be primarily focused on how technology works - topics like this might be better suited to Computer Science extended essays. For example, an EE about the best sorting algorithm or a comparison of compression technologies is not suitable as an ITGS EE because it does not focus on social impacts.
For first assessment in 2018 (first teaching in August 2016), the Extended Essay is changing. The new IB Extended Essay website includes information on the changes. It also has a table of poor questions which are too broad (a common mistake made by students), and a selection of better, more focused questions.
In the next few weeks you will have to decide upon your Extended Essay subject. Here is some advice for ITGS Extended Essays, based on what has worked (and not worked!) in the past. If you are thinking of writing an ITGS EE you should read this carefully and contact me if you have any questions.
Extended Essay Topics
- ITGS Extended Essays require you to perform primary research. Unfortunately this means that several topics are not feasible here in El Salvador. The primary research must involve genuine stakeholders who are experts in the topic area, which interviewing friends or family just because they are convenient is a poor approach.
- Research questions must be very specific. All parts of ITGS triangle must be included: specific stakeholders, specific technologies, specific social or ethical issues, and sometimes even a specific geographical location or a specific situation. For example:
- “The effects of Linux on businesses” is far too vague.
- “A study of the TCO for small businesses moving from commercial operating systems to Linux” is better.
- “How do games affect education?” is too vague.
- “How useful are simple English games in helping grade 4 primary school students learn English as a second language?” is better.
- You can view other topic ideas for ITGS EEs, divided by section of the ITGS syllabus, in the post ITGS Extended Essay topic ideas.
EE Topics to avoid
- I advise you to avoid anything related to “laptops in schools” or “Facebook in schools”. Both are boring, well-trodden topics which students often choose because they want an easy time. In my experience the result will often be a regurgitation of unsupported, non-specific claims without any meaningful conclusion. This was mentioned in the last ITGS EE Examiners report. Previous essays on these topics have scored very low grades (10-12 out of 36).
- Any topic where you cannot perform primary research. “Robotics in medicine” might interest you, but can you find a doctor who uses robots so you can interview him? Same thing for “Computers in space”, “smart homes”, and many more. If not, you can’t do the topic – it’s that simple.
- Topics about IT products (e.g. “New iPod released”, “Faster Intel processor”). The social impact of these is minimal.
- Topics about things which haven’t happened yet or have only just happened. How can you find examples if something hasn’t happened yet? (E.g: new nano-computers to be released, Saudi Arabia will monitor Blackberry use)
- Sources should not be solely Internet based. The Extended Essay guide recommends a combination of Internet resources and books, magazines, and articles.
- Students should aim for 25-30 information sources. Many students find this surprising, but it is important.
EE Topic Checklist
- Does the topic present clear social and ethical issue(s)?
- Are these issues caused by information technology?
- Can you find clear sources to support these issues and impacts?
- Are you able to find expert stakeholders to perform primary research?
- If the answer to any of these questions is no, you may need to think of a different topic.
ITGS Extended Essay help
There are several books available to help you complete the EE process.
Thinking of Writing an ITGS Extended Essay?
Thinking of writing an Extended Essay in ITGS? Here is some ITGS EE advice, based on what has worked (and not worked!) in the past.