- phase completed
- phase in-progress
Information Technology Infrastructure (ITI) is a program in the College of Continuing and Professional Studies at the University of Minnesota focused on major aspects of Information Technology. Courses are a mix of computer science and business courses designed to educate students on all aspects of the IT industry through instructors who currently work in IT. IT is a unique industry due to the speed of change in technology which requires the ITI program to identify the changes and modify the program to meet the always changing demands. The program is designed for a bachelor's degree in the form of a BAS (Bachelor of Applied Science), minor, and certificates. Students will take courses that can finalize into one (or more) of six sub-plans with current topics covering:
- Data Science
- Data Management
- Development and Operations (DevOps)
Writing in Information Technology Infrastructure
The Information Technology Infrastructure faculty generated the following list in response to the question, “What characterizes academic and professional communication in this discipline?”
As part of the College of Continuing and Professional Studies undergraduate programs in Applied and Professional Studies, writing in the Information Technology Infrastructure program encompasses both specific writing and general writing characteristics. Though this leads to a wide variety of typical writing characteristics, they can be categorized into three main categories:
Writers in ITI and ITI-related fields need to be able to write for a variety of different audiences with a variety of different technical understanding and vocabulary. ITI professionals can find themselves writing for colleagues with a great amount of technical knowledge, in which shorthand terms, acronyms, and other forms of “jargon” are not only permissible but acceptable, but they can also find themselves writing for others in their organization who lack the same background. Similarly, ITI professionals often have to write for end-users of products or other readers outside of the ITI field completely. In each instance, ITI professionals have to learn to be flexible in their writing style and thoughtful about adapting it to the particular audience.
Writers in ITI and ITI-related fields also need to understand the formal aspects of the materials and types of communication they are dealing with. ITI professionals deal with a variety of different kinds of writing tasks and genres, and they need to be able to recognize and master the different formal conventions that are called for. In a highly professionalized field with many standard documents, ITI professionals need to know what a formal report calls for, what a project management schedule looks like, what a statement of work or contract needs to include. Further, since many of our ITI students also work heavily with computer coding, they need to be able to think of their writing as code as well -- a type of writing that allows for variation but ultimately requires adherence to formal requirements.
Finally, writers in ITI and ITI-related fields also need to write with a high level of attention to detail. Since the forms of writing that our students need to learn to create can often be high stakes—computer coding, contracts, statements of work, and so on—ITI is a field that tends to have a lower tolerance for writing mistakes at any level -- be it conceptual, organizational, or mechanical. Code fails when improperly written; programs cannot be run if instructions aren’t properly communicated; projects can overrun costs if processes are incorrectly planned or organizationally incoherent.
These materials manifest in a range of writing types and genres, including the following:
- Reports (often including research)
- Instruction manuals
- Product and process reviews
Writing Abilities Expected of Information Technology Infrastructure Majors
Graduates of the ITI program should have a variety of writing abilities important for their field. The Information Technology Infrastructure faculty generated the following list in response to the question, “With which writing abilities should students in this unit’s major(s) graduate?”
Minimum Requirements for Writing in the Major:
- Design messages in ways that are appropriate to the technical ability of the audience
- Describe software and code according to the specific needs and functions of the context
- Describe new technologies to IT professionals, clients, and users to the degree that they can implement them
- Communicate recommendations and decisions in language appropriate to non-experts
- Describe quality, methods, and design choices to technical and non-technical audiences
- Use correct grammar, spelling, usage, punctuation, and syntax in written documents Genre/convention
- Recognize common forms of writing in ITI (including SOWs, contracts, trade-off studies, funding recommendations/business cases, standards and procedures, and others)
- Adhere to the style conventions of programming languages like Python, Java, C+, and others
- Effectively collaborate in groups to author team documents
- Be able to seek information and evidence appropriate to technical problems and questions
- Be able to make a persuasive case for implementation (ROI and other metrics)
- Communicate technical details concisely but with adequate detail and explanation to convince an audience
- Communicate how technology can solve business issues through use cases
- Draw connections between pressing business issues and the information technology that can be deployed around it
Menu of Grading Criteria Used in Information Technology Infrastructure Courses
Current criteria as developed in the WEC process:
- Student generated statements of work, trade-off studies, recommendations, standards documents, user documents, and procedures should be completed in well organized formats and with sufficient technical detail.
- Technical problems and questions are addressed based on consideration of a range of evidence and options, and solutions should demonstrate evidence-based decision making. Documents should avoid unnecessary complexity or technical jargon.
- Documents will include relevant business metrics (i.e. cost, time, ROI) in order to justify the choice of a technology solution. Students should explain how metrics are obtained or derived.
- Documentation is conventional and largely free of common errors. Citations, when necessary, conform to an ascribed style sheet.
- The code should function within the coding environment and provide an expected output.
- Documents should be tailored to the particular needs of end users, IT professionals, or managers/decision makers.
- For technical/IT audiences, technical details are presented unambiguously and clearly (including charts and figures), with specific attention to the technical knowledge of the audience.
- For managers, recommendations and actions should be described and explained in language suitable to decision makers without technical expertise.
- Description in code is restricted to detailed needs and functions as defined by the coding platform. A competent coder should be able to clearly understand design choices and functions.
- Quality improvements, methods, and design choices are explicitly linked to client specified requirements and platform specifications.
- Use cases should provide examples of successful use and implementation of technology. Application of case conclusions to new contexts should be explained and inconsistencies should be addressed.
- Documents will identify problems and opportunities in business contexts and address the best technologies to address these issues.
- Documentation that accompanies a technical solution should allow audiences to engage with new technology to address specific business contexts.
- Team documents should be coherent and maintain a consistent, professional tone.
Highlights from the Information Technology Infrastructure Writing Plan
Much of the work of the initial plan was to address courses in the curriculum that were already designated WI or contained significant writing projects. Much of our second plan will involve leveraging these course changes to modify and adapt other courses in the curriculum. To assist in coordinating our efforts, we have worked together to establish centralized reporting and language regarding writing in ITI courses. These resources were developed over the past year and will continue to evolve as part of the curriculum.
- Creation of Initial APA Guide for Students (Adjusting as needed)
- Writing Intensive Course Language for Syllabi (Open for use and adaptation)
- Beginning to apply CCAPS Rubric Guidelines (Cont. into Spring) See Appendix A.
- Beginning a Course Coding for Four Core Courses (Cont. into Spring)
The ITI Program seeks the assistance of the Writing-Enriched Curriculum program and team to implement a variety of plans to improve the quality of writing instruction and assessment in its curriculum. These implementation plans and requests are organized into the 3 categories: 1) tools for improving writing instruction and instructional materials, 2) a deeper understanding of the current situation of writing in the program (and potential areas for change), and 3) the coordination of writing assessment outcome data in relation to the programmatic goals and accreditation requirements.