Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) - 2010 Syllabus
What follows is a list of some of the most frequently asked questions about IPT, along with answers supplied by:
Mr Peter Whitehouse
St. Joseph's College,
The list of questions is not exhaustive, but indicative of what most parents and students ask during subject information evenings. The answers represent the professional opinion of Mr Peter Whitehouse - that opinion may differ from other teachers of IPT.
Q½: What do I need to study this subject?
Q1: What are the pre-requisites?
Q2: Do I need a computer at home?
Q3: What course resources exist for this subject?
Q4: I am not connected to the Internet- is that a disadvantage?
Q5: What is the work load like?
Q6: How is the content organised?
Q7: What counts and what doesn't?
Q8: What sort of assignments are there?
Q9: What software should I have on my home computer to best support my child?
Q10: I think my child needs to learn computers - is IPT the subject for them?
Q11: My child is not a computer nerd - will they cope?
Q12: Is it ok to do Maths A with IPT?
Q13: Not all schools offer IPT - why is this?
Q14: Success in what subjects is indicative of likely success in IPT?
Q15: What is the mixture of Theory/Prac in this subject?
Q16: My child enjoyed IT in Year 8 - will they enjoy IPT?
Q17: How much more is a mark in IPT worth than other subjects?
Q18: How does IPT help me at Uni?
Question NOT covered? - Ask Mr Whitehouse via the Internet
Q: What do I need to study this subject?
A: IPT is a mixture of theory and "hands on" activities. A typical class lesson would involve taking notes and trying things on computer. It is suggested that students invest in an A4 binder book for their notes. Handouts are RARELY given out in this subject - a concerted attempt is to include ALL notes, websheets and other details in this website. If students choose to print out the material kept herein, this also fine. A document wallet of clip-binder sleeves would make this easier. A pen/pencil combo is also useful - much of the time we will be drawing diagrams and non-reversable biro is a pain. An Internet Connection at home WILL assist students in this subject as the COURSE MATERIAL and SOFTWARE is delivered via the 'net.
Q: What are the pre-requisites?
A: IPT has NO formal pre-requiste subjects. There is no recommended courses that lead to IPT. No pre-knowledge is assumed when starting out in IPT. It is assumed, however, that you have a good grasp of english and your maths is also acceptable - during the course you will learn a number of new, technical languages and will be immersed in complex problem solving.
Q: Do I need a computer at home?
A: Need - yes. Your BYOD is central to success in this subject. get to know how it works and what you can use it for. Is there an advantage in being able to practise this stuff at home - Definitely! Is there advantage in being able to contact your teacher AT YOUR CONVENIENCE - Definitely!
Q: What course resources exist for this subject?
A: The course is described by this electronic text book. Additional material is supplied to students in the form of workbooks and other handouts. This textbook contains content, eXercises and many ways to get help. All of this, and if you ring now a set of steak knives, is accessible via the INTERNET.
Q: I am not connected to the Internet- is that a disadvantage?
A: Disadvantage is a relative term - certainly if students ONLY engage in coursework in class time, they will not achieve in this subject. Students are encouraged to use the electronic text book at school, print it only as they need to. Students with 'Net access can contact their teacher and classmates outside normal school hours for assistance. A broadband Internet connection is preferrable.
Q: What is the work load like?
A: Heavy and irregular. Students are engaged in a variety of problem solving tasks, some minor class tasks, others major projects involving complex system development. Often, major projects require significant investment of out-of-class time. Although homework is not set every night, successful students of IPT are able to find consolidation work each night. Class projects are taken up t a point where students CAN finish them and then the teacher assumes students WILL complete and extend them. Students need to be self-motivated and be able to work productively in groups and solo.
Q: How is the content organised?
A: The course is divided into 2 Major Year-long Units: Databases (including database manipulation, database design and artificial intelligence), Programming (algorithms and software development). Accompanying the years topics, are minor topics: Human- Computer Interaction and Social/Ethical Issues. Each unit compliments the other, major units are discrete and assessed separately, minor topics are integrated with the major topics and seen as global topics.
Q: What counts and what doesn't?
A: ALL YEAR 12 assessment undertaken in IPT counts towards exit. Students are assessed using written exams, practical projects and research/written tasks.
Q: What sort of assignments are there?
A: There are 2 research essays, 2 major system development projects (A Database system and a Computer Game), and minor practical exercises - the Minor projects typically span 4 weeks, the Major projects span a semester or longer. The expectation is that all hand-ins are computer generated - that is word processed, free of typographical errors and professionally presented. Much of the written assignment in IPT is completed inside the College's Moodle - this is a learning managemetn system that allows students to access their assignments from home and school.
Q: What software should I have on my home computer to best support my child?
A: This is a difficult question, as versions come and go and we attempt wherever possible to use OPENSOURCE solutions. Students are also, for presentation purposes, exposed to Google Docs, Microsoft Office (Word, Excel, Powerpoint, Publisher etc.). Much of the written assignment in IPT is completed inside the College's Moodle - to access this an Internet connection and real browser is required (unlike IE or Safari)
Q: I think my child needs to learn computers - is IPT the subject for them?
A: If you want them to problem solve using computers and learn about some aspects of computer science - YES. If you want them to be competent typists, know how to drive a graphics package or wordprocessor, then this is not the course for your child as these general 'productivity' applications are not covered as part of the course. The teacher already assumes they can use them.
Q: My child is not a computer nerd - will they cope?
A: Sure - Successful students come in all types. Often the 'nerd' knows a lot about a very specific topic, but may find themselves out of their depth in some aspects of the course - everyone brings different gifts and talents to the subject. Students who are intimidated by computers will need to overcome their reticence to use them.
Q: Is it ok to do Maths A with IPT?
A: IPT has a mathematical component - the Games Programming (part of the SP unit) unit involves some challenging mathematical concepts, and the ability to deal with abstract concepts at a high level. Often, students who are not doing really well in Maths A also struggle with some important aspects of IPT.
Q: Not all schools offer IPT - why is this?
A: IPT is a complex academic discipline involving may areas of Computer Science. IPT teachers have very specialised knowledge and usually specific Computer Science or Computer Education qualifications and, unfortunately, there are too few IPT teachers to support this subject in all schools because salaries in industry for positions that IPT teachers are qualified for far exceed teaching salaries, sadly.
Q: Success in what subjects is indicative of likely success in IPT?
A: Interestingly, Achievement in SCIENCE, ENGLISH and MATHEMATICS are indicators of likely success in IPT. Much of the course involves problem solving (Science) and coming to grips with nuances in computer languages (English). Saying this, however, one must keep in mind that achievement in IPT requires active participation and an enquiring mind - probably true for all subjects offered.
Q: What is the mixture of Theory/Prac in this subject?
A: The mix varies from unit to unit - most units have a significant on-machine component and a theoretical component as well. Students are expected to cope with the THEORY as well as the PRAC - it is not possible to achieve in this subject wihout devoting time to both.
Q: My child enjoyed IT in Year 8 - will they enjoy IPT?
A: IPT and Junior IT have nothing in common - except they both use computers as tools. IPT is not the subject to do if your child need to learn Wordprocessing or Spreadsheeting for example. It is assumed that they already have those skills, or can acquire them in their own time. The Year 9 ICTE course contains some introductory concepts relevent to the study of IPT, but is NOT a prerequisite for it.
Q: How much more is a mark in IPT worth than other subjects?
A: It is misleading to suggest that any subject advantages a student over another. Any subject can be either a positive or negative influence on a student's exiting marks and OP depending how they, and the students around them, perform. Students are encouraged to do as well as they are able to (and consistently so in IPT as assessment is cumulative).
Q: How does IPT help me at Uni?
A: Again, this depends on the area of tertiary study. Should students persue an IT major, then many aspects of IPT will re-inforce content encountered in the first couple of years at Uni. Importantly, IPT also increases student confidence using computers, making new skill acquisition less difficult.
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