1 IT and Communications

Communications between people is the whole point of information technology. IT has its origins in communication services like telephones and telegraphs. The Internet, social media, and smart mobile phone apps are all just more recent developments of the general idea of creating, storing, and exchanging information. Often, though, in an IT course, we get so involved communicating with our own devices through the keyboard, mouse, or touchscreen, we often forget that other people are the ultimate consumers of the information we are creating and managing. Do your computing projects factor people in? If not, they should!

Beyond understanding that IT products are for human users, it’s also the case that other people are going to be involved in the IT work itself. IT projects generally involve teams. There have been moments in IT when a lone developer might build an app, or a lone inventor might found a great company from a dorm room or a garage, but generally speaking, the size and complexity of IT systems require multiple specialized workers for design, development, management, and troubleshooting. Good communications makes for good teamwork, so human-to-human communication is essential to the creation of IT services, just as human-to-human communication is the end goal of IT services.

The sections that follow give some tips and perspectives on how to manage group work in IT. Sometimes team communications are face-to-face. Sometimes teams work remotely and communicate through text, email, web apps or other IT media. Either way, though, people are involved, which means IT group work is more than just a technical problem. Complex systems theory allows for modeling social systems, technical systems, or even hybrid systems blending the social and the technical. It may be helpful to consider IT work groups as complex hybrid systems. People are important elements of these work group systems, as are their production and communications technologies, so there is a complex web of relationships between different people on the team and between the different technologies they use to collaborate. There some well known pitfalls to IT group processes! There are also some group management ideas that, although never guaranteed to work in every case, do at least have a reputation for making positive outcomes more likely.  The sections that follow are aimed at helping you identify possible ways to smooth out the rough edges of IT group work.



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Making Connections: Group Work in Information Technology Copyright © by Robert Bunge is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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