ITC102 Information Computing Concepts

Broad introduction to computers and information systems. Covers hardware, software, data organization, data communications, systems development and the constantly changing roles of Information Technology (IT) professionals.

Instructor: Tarah Wheeler Van Vlack

Instructor Contact Info:, on Slack

Class meeting: MTW 10-10:50, BE 3173

Week 1: Welcome to technology!

1/4/16 – Onboard to Slack, welcome, teams, topics choice
1/5/16- What is IT?
1/6/16- Techniques to learn technology and your resources

Week 2: The Internet

1/11/16 – How email works (homework 1 due – GitHub acct and repo)
1/12/16 – In the clouds: How the Internet works
1/13/16 – WWW & DNS, or: What’s in a domain name? Watch


Week 3: Hardware

1/18/16 – The Maker community, 3D printing, home lasers, and space robots. Watch

Then 30 minutes with Holly Saultman on how to create great online opportunities. (homework 2 due – 100 words on email + DNS)
1/19/16 – Basic principles of hardware: how computers work
1/20/16 – Taking apart and building a computer from scratch

Week 4: Software

1/25/16 – Basic principles of software development (homework 3 due – pull requests to other repos)
1/26/16 – Web application development
1/27/16 – The best programming languages to learn and why

Week 5: Databases

2/1/16 – Database fundamentals: Sequential queries and relational databases (homework 4 due – commit one line of your chosen code to your repo and comment on someone else’s)
2/2/16 – Screw SQL: ORMs and programmatic DB interaction
2/3/16 – Basics of normalization and principles of data storage

Week 6: Game dev and the games industry

2/8/16 – Leveling up: Gaming and technology (homework 5 due – write one paragraph on a data normalization problem and commit)
2/9/16 – Create your own game
2/10/16 – Caveat emptor: a career in game development

Week 7: Social Media

2/16/16 – How Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram work (homework 6 due – pics committed of the game you created last week to a group repo you all are in).
2/17/16 – Crowdfunding and online reputation: One cannot simply treat Kickstarter like a lottery ticket

Week 8: The Internet Of Things

2/22/16 – The Semantic Web (homework 7 due – design a crowdfunding campaign with an idea, a deliverable, and 3 rewards)
2/23/16 – Yes, refrigerators can read your email and Skynet is a thing
2/24/16 – Dude, Who Hacked My Car?: Tesla, Puking Monkey, and the moo cow invasion

Week 9: Get A Job
2/29/16 – Working for BigTechCorp vs. Scrappy Startups (homework 8 due – Find something that’s connected to the Internet in an insecure fashion and commit a picture to your Github)
3/1/16 – Making a living online
3/2/16 – Yes, starting a company is that easy (Iteration and “done is better than perfect”)

Week 10: Hackers and Sneakers and Wargames, oh my!

3/7/16 – How encryption works: ”Security Research” and hacking all the things (VPNs, password managers, and turning on HTTPS: the bare-ass minimum) (homework 9 due: 150 word business idea created by your group and all commit to same repo)
3/8/16 – White Hat, Black Hat, Mad Hat! Ethics and the hacker mindset (Le aphadar aen: The state of laws and best practice regarding your privacy) & Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap (Viruses, worms, and Trojans; How to pirate content with Bit Torrent; Darknet and Chans)
3/9/16 – Physical Security Is Information Security (guest speaker Deviant Ollam)

Week 11: The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Nighttime

3/14/16 – SJW: Class and gender issues in technology (homework 10 due – Watch any video from the Defcon feed and commit 100 words of your thoughts to your Github)
3/15/16 – Cognitive bias and what you don’t find on the internet
3/16/16 – How not to be a troll

Week 12: Autodidacticism: The Only Way To Roll

3/21/16 – Certifications and continuing education, class final (homework 11 due (extra credit/makeup) – sign a petition on the Internet for something you care about and explain why in Github)


Other Possible topics and lectures:
Serve Your Community
Parental IT
“Have you tried turning it off and back on again?”
The best lesson for all parents: LastPass is the minimum
Google Hangouts and how to teach your parents stuff
Instanetwork: Meetup groups and your skills workshops

Institutional thinking and information technology
What’s happening to my data online?
What’s the difference between OL and IRL?
Form validation: Like Conan The Destroyer but better
Hashtag abuse
Career trajectories for IT pros: Freelance, Contingent, FTE
Twisting ARMs: Principles of mobile architecture
Cool stuff you can do with an iPhone (Jailbreaking. That’s about it.)
Way, way, WAY cooler stuff you can do with an Android (Cyanogenmod, True story: Server maintenance while on a date)

Class structure: 15-20 min of lecture followed by 30-35 min of teamwork and group exercises.

Cell phones: turn off all noise and notifications including vibrate.

Assignments: turn them in as a group each Monday. There will be 10 total assignments, each worth 10% of your grade.

Attendance: You have 1 free day you can miss with no penalty. After that, you lose 5% off your final grade for each day you miss without a doctor’s note or clearance from BITCA administration. I will lock the door at exactly 5PM each day. If I have to come let you into class, you lose 1% off your final grade. 5 minutes early is the new 10 minutes late.

Academic honesty: there’s no such thing as cheating in open source, but there is such a thing as plagiarism. Give credit generously and be honest about your own contributions.

Disabilities: Students with documented disabilities requesting class accommodations, requiring special arrangements in case of building evacuation. or have emergency medical information the instructor should know bout are asked to contact the disability support services office (DSS) in Rm 1112. Once the disability is verified with DSS you will be given a letter of accommodation to be handed to your instructor.