Information Systems
Summer 2017 - Online

Moodle, Course Calendar, Notes & Resources
Syllabus quick links: Objectives, Structure, Textbook, Technology, Grading Criteria, Student Support

Course Information

Days & Times: (Mondays & Thursdays) The course officially begins on June 12.
Note: This course is online and "asynchronous." New topics will be released Mondays and Thursdays, and these will be the due dates for most of the assignments.
Location: Online and asynchronous. You do not need to be at your computer at any specific time or day.
Credits: 3 hours
Prerequisites: MSCI1500 (Business Computing Essentials)
Instructor: Dr. Rick Jerz
Contact Information: Email:Rick@rjerz.com or richard-jerz@uiowa.edu
Phone: (563) 447-0180 (voice mail)
Office: Virtual

Catalog Description

Application of computing principles to solving business problems; information technology in modern organizations; focus on sound data analysis to support decision making; tools used for problem solving (spreadsheets, databases, web applications); role of information systems in organizations; components of information technology; Internet and network economy; basic data analysis and visualization; decision-making logic represented as algorithms; perform what-if analysis with data; and emerging technologies.

Course Objectives

The class provides a broad understanding of information technology in organizations. It also focuses on sound data-analysis to support decision-making. The tools used for problem solving include spreadsheets, databases, and visualization. The class will cover the following topics:

  • Problem-solving with spreadsheets, databases, and visualization
  • Business processes and the value of information
  • Storing and organizing information
  • Transmitting information and the network economy
  • Information security and privacy
  • Electronic business
  • Internet websites and applications
  • Business analytics
  • Emerging technologies

We will be using a variety of software products to solve business cases. Additionally, you will learn how to manage your own web server to begin understanding how to manage information on the Internet.

Course Structure

This course is an “online” course utilizing the “asynchronous learning” model and makes extensive use of my lecture and instructional videos. Each week (usually on Mondays and Thursdays) new topics are provided in my Learning Management System (LMS), Moodle. On Moodle, students access chapter resources and assignments, lecture and support videos, quizzes, and exams. Course materials will support students in the completion of assignments, projects, and examinations.

I have carefully designed my videos to improve your study time. The lecture videos are delivered asynchronously, meaning that you do not have to be behind your computer at any specified time to hear my lectures. You can study when you are most productive! These videos are provided in "mp4" format and can be played directly from most browsers, and they are available as podcasts (on iTunes). See my "Videos, Podcasts, iTunes" webpage for more information. I think that you will enjoy these lecture videos.

Through my use of a variety of electronic technologies and a very organized easy-to-use LMS, you will see that I am very dedicated to make your learning productive and efficient.  You can be successful in this course if you study the materials, watch the videos (often more than once), do all assignments on time, and ask questions whenever something is not understood. There is a link in the ICON course to Moodle.

The "Course Calendar" webpage shows dates and topics for this course.

About a week before the class begins, I will send you a "Welcome" email that provides details and course access information, including how to access Moodle and a small pre-course assignment.  I send this email to your email addresses on record with the Registrar, so watch for this email and remember that you may need to check your “junk” mailbox.

Required Textbook(s) and Web Server

"MIS Cases: Solving Small Business Scenarios Using Application Software," 2nd Edition, Gardner, ISBN 978-1118291610, and "Introduction to Information Systems: Supporting and Transforming Business," Rainer et al., Wiley, ISBN 978-1-118-67436-9.

Bluehost.com Hosted Web Server Account. In our modern business world, a very significant technology for companies is the Internet. This course will teach you how companies make their presence on the Internet via your own "hosted web server." By having your own server, you will be able to experience some textbook topics firsthand.

You should go to www.bluehost.com/special/educationspecial and purchase your own hosted server account. Note: make sure to go to this "education" link for student pricing. This should cost approximately $3.95/mo, or $47.40 for a 1-year (12 month) account. In addition to this cost, I highly recommend adding "privacy" for $.99/mo so that you don't get spammed by telemarketers. Additionally, even though it looks like a monthly subscription, you must pay the entire yearly amount at one time for this special student rate. Before purchasing your server, think about the domain name that you want (for example: maryjones.com, mycompany.com or billsmith.com). Your domain name can be anything you want as long as it is "available" on the Internet. I suggest trying to get a ".com" domain name, but this is really up to you to decide. The domain name is free with your 1-year Bluehost subscription. I show how to do this in my "Pre-Course Assignment" video. Although there are many companies that you can purchase a "server" from, I have selected Bluehost because they are good, and they cater to academia. Do not purchase this from any other company or else you may have difficulty doing the assignments. If you mess up buying your hosted server, you can phone Bluehost and they will help you fix your problem.

Cost for this course: The expected cost for this course will depend a little on where you get your textbooks and which software products you want to buy. On Amazon, textbooks can be purchased for around $50 used, or rented for around $30. Your Bluehost account, with "privacy" should cost around $60. For either PC's or Mac, software cost can be between zero and up to, oh maybe, $150. I am a Mac owner, and I have purchased VMWare for around $60, but this is me, VirtualBox is free (see below.) Students might also want to purchase a one-month subscription for Dreamweaver (wait to do this until I give you more information) for around $20. So most students should get by spending less than $150 for this course.

Course Technology

This course assumes that the student has some computer skills and understands how to use products such as email, browsers, word processing, and spreadsheets. There may be times where you will need help from ITS or STEAD, which are the university's and the College of Business computer support departments, respectively. The Division of Continuing Education's website might also be helpful.

Computer and Internet: Computer with Internet access, preferably broadband wired connections with upload and download speeds of at least 1 Mbps. "Officially" the College of Business supports PCs, and for this course we will be using some PC-only software. If you are a Macintosh user, it is fine to get Office 2016 for the Mac. Microsoft Access and Visio work only on MS Windows-based computers. Macintosh users can: 1) Work from a university computer lab on a Windows PC. All software that we will use is available on any College of Business lab computer. 2) Install a MS Windows emulator on your Mac, such as Parallels, VMWare, or VirtualBox, or 3) Use the Virtual Desktop (for both/either Excel and Access, but not Visio). ITS can help with installing all of the software. Make sure that you have access to these software products before the course begins (follow the directions in the pre-course assignment.) If you decide to use your own laptop or desktop computer, you will be installing a variety of software products on it that support our educational objectives.

Course Software: This course requires the following application software: Excel (2010, 2011, 2013/365 or 2016), Microsoft Access 2013 or 2016, Microsoft Visio 2013 or 2016, and Tableau 10. UIowa students are eligible to get MS Office 365 for free from ITS. MS Access 2016 and MS Visio 2106 can be downloaded for free from the Microsoft "Imagine" website (see Pre-Course Assignment video). I will show you how to get Tableau in my Pre-Course assignment. Tableau's data visualization software is provided through the Tableau for Teaching program. UIowa students are eligible to get MS Office 365 for free from Microsoft.

Browser requirements: You will need a modern browser that is up to date (Internet Explorer 11, Edge, Firefox, Safari, Chrome X, or equivalent.)

Email: Email is the most common method of communication for this course. Students can expect to receive weekly communications from the instructor (via email) introducing assigned course work and the topics to be presented on the pre-recorded demonstrations. Students are expected to check their email account several times a week. You will also be receiving emails from Moodle for forum discussions.

Acrobat, iTunes, Video Player, Screen Capture, and Email: The latest version of Adobe Reader must be installed in your computer in order to access course materials posted as PDFs. For a free download of this application, visit the Division of Continuing Educations Internet Connection Test/Download Page. You should have an email account (UIowa or other). iTunes is optional but provides another alternative to accessing videos. Videos can also be downloaded and played by many video players, such as Windows Media Player or QuickTime. I also recommend knowing how to do "screen captures," for those times when you want to show me a problem that you are having with your computer or software. See my FAQ webpage for help with screen capture software.

University Computer Lab Computers: Students can use the University labs' computers, which meet these course requirements, and are available for those students who are on-campus.

Mobile Devices: Most of this course's materials are designed to be easily viewed from most modern tablets, smartphones, and multimedia players. Mobile devices are handy for playing videos and accessing course materials "on the go."

Lynda.com: We will also be using some of the instructional videos located on Lynda.com. As a UIowa student, you have free access to this service at http://lynda.uiowa.edu.

A pre-course assignment (see Course Calendar) has been provided to make sure that all of these course requirements are working well before the start of the semester. This pre-course assignment is also explained in the "Course Introduction" video.

Need Technical Support? Any questions about the course materials and Moodle should be directed to the professor.  The professor’s FAQ webpage might sometimes help. Questions about The University of Iowa specific items, such as your UIowa email, UIowa computers, etc., should be directed to either STEAD, ITS, or The Division of Continuing Education.

Grading Criteria

Students will be assessed based on their performance in the following items:

Discussions and participation: 20%
Self-Assessments: 15%
Projects: 50%
Two Exams: 15%

Final grades will be awarded based on the following ranges:

>= 99: A+ 94 - 99: A 90 - 94: A-
87 - 90: B+ 83 - 87: B 80 - 83: B-
77 - 80: C+ 73 - 77: C 70 - 73: C-
67 - 70: D+ 63 - 67: D 60 - 63: D-
below 60: F    

The Tippie College of Business guidelines suggest that an appropriate grade distribution would approximately consist 20% of the students in the A range, 40% of the students in the B range, 30% of the students in the C range, and 10% of the students with a grade of D or lower. This course is not graded on a "curve," therefore the exact grade distribution will depend on the class’s performance. The instructor reserves the right to adjust the grade distribution as appropriate.

Timing for Homework: I typically turn on assignments about a week early, and make the due date one week after the week the topic is covered (shown on the Course Calendar webpage). I send you an email weekly as each topic is turned on for you on Moodle. With this approach, just about every assignment, except exams, is available to you for two weeks. All assignments have due dates (Mondays), that show in Moodle's "Calendar" and in Moodle's "Upcoming Events." When the due date expires, the assignment is over. I encourage you to begin assignments early. Also, I try my hardest to help everyone who seeks my help prior to due dates, but the probability of getting my help goes down dramatically as the due date approaches (i.e., if you ask me a question two hours before an assignment is due, I may not respond.)

Participation: Participation is required. Each week, there will be required discussions about the weekly topics. Some of the discussion topics are worth one point and some are worth two points. If you desire a perfect "A", you must earn eight (8) points. Approximately half of your posts must address the discussion topics, and half of these must be "replies" to other students' posts. I provide you points after I read your posts and verify that they reflect high quality. A good post is thoughtful and relevant to the topic. Posts that are too simple, such as "I agree" or "Nice comment" will not count unless you state why you agree, and so forth. You will see me provide additional prompting whenever these short posts occur. The goal is to have dynamic discussion around the topics. Keep in mind that fellow learners will be reading and responding to you, too.

Self-Assessments (Textbook Concepts): For every chapter, you must complete self-assessments on Moodle to see how well you understand the assigned readings. They must be completed by the due date -- no exceptions! If you do not like your grade, you can redo your homework and your highest grade is what counts. It is extremely important that you understand the homework questions and not simply guessing at answers until you get a good grade, otherwise, you will not do well on the exams.  Since you can redo your homework, I encourage you to begin early and complete at least one attempt so that you hopefully will not end up with a zero.

Projects: Weekly projects will be assigned using various quantitative computer models, and activities to reinforce important business concepts involving information systems. These projects must be completed by the due date.

Exams: There will be two exams, equally weighted and delivered electronically. Each exam will cover only the materials that we have covered in each half of the semester. Exams must be taken individually and there will be severe consequences for those who do not follow this rule. The best way to make sure that you don't appear to be "cheating" is to make sure that no other student is in sight of you.

Bonus Points: Occasionally, bonus exercises are provided, and these will be identified as "Bonus" on Moodle. Bonus exercises are always optional, and they are additional points within its own grade category. In the spirit of quality and continuous improvement, whenever you are the first student to identify an administrative error about any component of this course, you will receive one (1) bonus point. These bonus points can amount to up to 3% improvement to your overall grade.

Course Policies

Due Dates & Missed Deadlines: All assignments are due one the date and time noted in the Moodle calendar and is typically Mondays at 11:55PM. Since many topics build upon previous topics, missed assignments should still be completed. However, late assignments are not accepted and the student earns a zero grade on these.

Make Up Exams: Make up exams will only be given for extreme situations.

Rectifying Scores: During the semester, I will post all your scores on Moodle for you to view. After you get your homework or exam grade, you have a week to dispute your score. Beyond this period, I will not entertain any disputes.

Student Support

Accommodations: Under the Americans with Disabilities Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, instructors must provide reasonable academic accommodations for qualified students with disabilities. Students seeking academic accommodations first register with Student Disability Services and meet with a counselor in that office who reviews documentation and determines eligibility for services. Students approved for accommodations arrange to meet privately with course instructors. Visit Student Disability Services at https://sds.studentlife.uiowa.edu or call 319-335-1462.

Academic Integrity and Misconduct: It is my sincere hope that no student in this class submits work which is not his or her own. However, it seems prudent to clarify in advance the policy on cheating. If I determine that any assignment was not completed solely by the student whose identification number appears on the project, the student will receive a zero (0) for the assignment and may receive an "F" for the class. All incidents of cheating will be reported to the Senior Associate Dean of the Tippie College of Business and the student may be placed on disciplinary probation for the remainder of his or her undergraduate work at the University of Iowa. In general, the decision of the Professor may be appealed to a Judicial Board, then to the appropriate Associate Dean. The Honor Code for the Tippie College of Business will determine the appropriate appeal process.

Classroom Etiquette (Netiquette): In emails and online discussions a courteous tone and politeness is expected. For tips on "Netiquette" technique, go to: http://www.albion.com/netiquette/.

Sexual Harassment: Sexual harassment is reprehensible and will not be tolerated by the University. It subverts the mission of the University and threatens the well-being of students, faculty, and staff. Visit this site - https://osmrc.uiowa.edu - for definitions, assistance, and the full University policy.

Grievance Policy: Student concerns regarding this course should first be discussed with me. If we can't resolve the complaint, you may contact the DEO of Management Sciences, Nick Street at (319) 335-0890 or nick-street@uiowa.edu. If you cannot resolve the complaint by speaking with the DEO, you may contact the Associate Dean of the Undergraduate Program, Ken Brown, (319) 335-0924, kenneth-g-brown@uiowa.edu.