The following is the link paragraph which would be in my home page along with the other articles:

Teaching Computer Systems Management (CIS 455) in the Virtual Classroom Environment by Murray Turoff. This is a report to the Sloan Foundation for their project to introduce a complete remote degree program (BAIS, Bachelors of Arts in Information Science) utilizing the Virtual Classroom technology developed at NJIT.

TABLE OF CONTENTS:


Teaching

Computer Systems Management

(CIS 455)

in the

Virtual Classroom Environment

by

Murray Turoff

Department of Computer and Information Science

New Jersey Institute of Technology

November 5, 1995

Report written for the Sloan Foundation Virtual Classroom project at NJIT


INTRODUCTION

This is a report on experiences in teaching CIS 455, a senior level elective course, on the topic of the Management of Computer Systems, utilizing the Virtual Classroom technology during the 1994-1995 Academic year and the Fall of the 1995-1996 Academic year.. The first semester involved the use of Virtual Classroom with a face to face class. The students in the face-to-face class utilized the Virtual Classroom for the carrying out of many of their assignments and for class discussions.

The second semester involved the use of both a face to face class and remote students who are presented the lectures via video tapes. The video tapes were produced during this semester. In this offering the remote students and the face-to-face students are treated equally with respect to the online class discussion and the assignments. The only difference was that the remote students had an extra week to complete assignments because of delay in the delivery of video tapes.

The third semester involved only remote students taking CIS 455. Since this involved only about seven students the instructor chose to merge the remote CIS 679 (Management of Information Systems) students into the same conference. This remote class was only about five students. The graduate course is in the same topic area and although there are different books, lectures, and readings, there is sufficient overlap of discussion topics that this was considered a good way to establish a critical mass of students to maintain an active discussion flow.

The course CIS 455 has a very detailed syllabus that explains the major requirements and readings for the course. That document is attached as an appendix to this report for the benefit of the reader. It does offer the reader insight into the illustrations in the class discussion and the utility of the Virtual Classroom for coordinating activities of the students on an individual and group basis.


OBSERVATIONS

This course has the objective of providing students in Computer Science and students in Information Systems with a basic understanding of the management problems that are peculiar to the development and operation of computer hardware and software systems. About half the course is spent upon the typical systems development process and the problems that can occur at each stage of the process and how they can be dealt with.

The course relies on five Harvard Case Studies to provide the student with realistic situations to which they must apply the various considerations they have been learning in the course. They are also encouraged to go into the professional literature and read some of the recent work in this particular area of management. For many students this is one of the few courses in which they are exposed to professional articles in the field. In addition, as a final project they are required to pick some changing area of the technology and determine what sort of implications this technology change will have for management in this field. This also requires their use of the professional literature.

The course requires a great deal of reading material and the comprehension of complex ideas and concepts and their application to the types of pragmatic problems that managers face in dealing with Information Systems. It is a different form of thinking than is usually required of the students in the technically oriented Computer Science courses.

There is a great deal of what is termed "pragmatics" in a course of this sort and one of the key advantages of the use of the Virtual Classroom approach is the ability to generate far more class discussion than is possible in the rather limited amount of time offered in the face-to-face classroom environment. In order to know if students have truly grasped a concept and can apply it to a given situation the instructor has to be able to see their reasoning process in addressing a particular question or issue.

The content of the course builds upon itself so that it is important that the material be developed in proper order. This also applies to the benefit derived from the class discussions and it means that the instructor strongly desires to keep the students in synchronization with respect to what is done each week. The student who falls behind is at a great disadvantage.

This is also a problem in running a combination of face to face and remote students as a single class. There is the resulting need to get both groups in synchronization as one class. Because of this it is highly critical that the remote students receive their materials in time to get started at the same time as the face to face class. This has not been possible for a variety of reasons, and often it does take the remote students three to four weeks to catch up with the progress of the face to face students. Ideally the remote students should have access to the conference system at least two weeks prior to the start of the semester if this is their first time use of such a communication facility. However, many students delay their registration to the last minute.

For those who are normally face-to-face students, the decision to sign up for a remote course may come only after they realize there is a conflict in their planned courses, a course has been canceled, or when a course has been over subscribed so they can no longer get into the face-to-face offering. In the last semester of this report there was an unusually high number of remote registrations that the distance learning staff was unprepared for. The resulting part time employees made many mistakes in the mailing of materials and in some cases the students were a month into the course before they obtained all the material.

Those students that are dropping out usually do not bother to inform the instructor and one may not find out that a student has dropped until the end of the semester. Usually I will attempt to contact the student by phone during the first two weeks if he or she has not been online. After that I will send electronic mail if they appear to be dropping behind in the conference or the assignments.

Student Activity

The online activity during the semester for CIS 455 can be summarized in the following table. This is for the first two course offerings mentioned above; the final offering is still underway.

               Total           Comments        Number of     Max - Min        
               Number of       made by         Students      Comments/        
               Comments        instructor                    student          

Fall 1994          294        91 / 31%         15-21          30 - 10 

Spring 1995        329       102 / 31%         18-28         22 -   9 


The observation that the instructor made about 30% of the comments in the class discussion conference is fairly typical of this instructor's prior experience with the use of Computer Mediated Communications for this purpose. The above did not include the private messages nor the assignment conference. This was a separate conference for both offerings where the larger text assignments (professional article reviews and executive summaries of final project reports) were entered separately. Entries in that conference by students are typically a hundred to two hundred lines long.

While there are significant contributions in the class conference by every student, there is still a 3 to 1 magnitude ratio in the spread of contributions among the students. This is not unusual. In these class discussions there were at least five entries that had to be made by every student. These were in the form of Activity Questions that had to be answered.

For the number of students the higher number is the number of students that started the course and the lower number is the number of students that finished. The actual grade distributions are in the following table:

            Grade        Fall 1994      Spring 1995 

                                                    
               A_                2                5 

               B+                3                2 

               B_                5                6 

               C+                1                2 

               C_                1                0 

               D_                0                0 

               F_                2                1 

               I_                1                2 

               W_                6               10 

                                                    
            Total               21               28 


In the above an "I" stands for Incomplete and a "W" stands for withdraw. I have found that 20-30% withdrawal is typical of the courses I teach. Since they are electives if the student gets overloaded withdrawal is likely choice. Even with warning students that they are not keeping up some do actually go on an flunk even though the withdrawal can be done like up to two thirds of the way through the semester. In the Spring seven withdrawals were for the remote students and there where for the face-to-face students. I believe the high rate was due to the administrative and access problems that the student faced in getting in synchronization with the rest of the class.

Information Overload and Reactions

Sometimes one has to deal with the results of poor or miscommunications among the students. Some students, overcome with the amount of material that can be generated in conferences, become very negative and express displeasure to or towards other students.

C 103.12 CC 36.1.2.2 XXXXXXXXXXXXX 10/26/95 3:22 PM 25 lines

Subject: WASTING TIME

YYYYY and ZZZZZZ wrote:

YYYY:
> finally got mine. they found in the stockroom of the bookstore! if your
> having a real hassle (I know, because I just lived it) let me know and I
> could fax you a copy

ZZZZ:
> Thanks YYY ,but it looks like I found a classmate, who
> is willing to help me out by letting me copy the case studies, if it
> doesn't work out, I may have to take you up on your offer. ZZZZ

XXXXX:

Do you think you guys could *Please* do this through the private Mail option in EIES. Type ++ then pick mail and send it that way.....

It's bad enough that we have to belong to two conferences for one class

which involves probably more than 50 students. Every time I log on I have to sift through all these comments to decide which is important to the class and which is not............

If you think its gonna help your participation grade by just having more comments posted, I would guess that won't work. The CIS 350 class taught us that participation has to be based on more than mere keystrokes.....

See Murray I did learn something after all........
*Laugh* XXXXXX

The prior example was fairly mild and easily dealt with, but here is a more severe example that went a long way to inhibiting one student's participation in the class conference. Even with the discussion below he was very shy of making further comments in the conference and continued to place more emphasis on communicating with me via messages the rest of the semester.

C 103.12 CC 6.3.2.3 (ANONYMOUS) 10/3/95 1:56 PM 14 lines

Subject: petty

Did XXXX say "petty" ???

Oh yeah you mean like your incessant comment to the comment to the comment, after a reply to replied to comments with a follow up to the comment reply that you already replied to 3 times.

Now that's "petty".

Sorry had to do it, look XXXXX the participation is Great, but lets not overdo it please??? I mean really we have enough to read as it is without having to filter through all the really unneeded comments from everyone.

The student who was being singled out here sent the instructor a private message giving his reaction to this comment. And the following dialogue ensued.

M 15962 XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX 10/5/95 7:55 PM 19 lines
TO: Murray Subject: Too many comments

Sir,

I received what has to be the rudest and most embarrassing note I have ever gotten (n60087). I feel that the person could have sent me an e-mail personally and not posted it where everyone could read it. Anyway if that is the consensus opinion I apologize to you and the rest of the class.

I am new to this and maybe I don't understand the etiquette as I should. I will be cutting back my comments so as to not embarrass myself for upset the others. I thought the idea was to get a dialogue going so that is why I replied as I did. Again if I was mistaken I apologize. It didn't seem like I was doing more than others, but again I must have been wrong. IN over 16 years of school I have never been insulted like that. It was also disappointing that the person did it anonymously so I don't have the chance to apologize to them and maybe they could find out someone is new and learning. Anyway, I have enjoyed your lectures so far and the class. If you don't see me commenting and participating anymore I thought you should know why. Take care and thanks for your help so far.

M 15962.1 Murray Turoff (Murray, 103) 10/5/95 9:06 PM 6 lines
TO: XXXX Subject: really sorry - ignore that one

I found nothing wrong with your comments and I am the one that counts. Sorry if the anonymous comment passed by me. I have used this medium so long that I may not notice that sort of comment as it is quite common in a lot of discussions when a student goes into information overload because they have not kept up.

Please don't be discouraged from commenting further.

M 15962.2 XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX 10/7/95 10:37 AM 9 lines
TO: Murray Subject: Thank You

Sir,

Thank you! The main point I wanted to make is that if I was out of line I will most assuredly own up to it. What I'll try to do is try to be diligent not to say something unless I think it will be of real benefit. I do have 10 years of work experience and since many of the class members are seniors with only some experience I might have an idea or two that some may find useful. Thank you again, your really picked up my day!

M 15962.3 Murray Turoff (Murray, 103) 10/7/95 6:29 PM 1 line
TO: XXXXX Subject: Thank You

There was nothing out of line in what you did say.


Students Getting Behind

There are students who seem to disappear from the class and do not keep up with the discussion. One has to begin sending private messages to these students and try to determine what has happened to them.

M 16468 Murray Turoff (Murray, 103) 2/10/95 10:25 PM 5 lines
TO: XXXXX, YYYYYY Subject: need to catch up in c103.12

Those of you receiving this message seem to be quite far behind in reading the comments in the class conference 103.12 or in doing the activities there. Please try to catch up and if you are having problems or have dropped the course you should let me know in a message.

Here are some examples of the results of such an inquiry.

M 16619 XXXXXXXXXX 2/18/95 10:46 AM 7 lines
TO: Murray Subject: Lateness

Prof. Murray

Sorry for falling behind. I've just recently got my hands on the case studies. I'll get the first one to you next week. I'd get it to you sooner, but I have two midterms to take by the 23rd. I'll pick the topic for my paper by then as well.

Sincerely

M 15544.1 XXXXXXXXX 18 lines 10/3/95 10:02 PM
TO: Murray Subject: thanks for the letter

Hi Prof. Turoff, thank you very much for this mail, especially your considerations. I will try my best to catch up. I plan to finish the first case by Oct. 9 so I could be only one week behind. This course is not easy to even if there is not these problems as a remote student. The reading is overwhelming for me as a non-native English speaker and I have minimal prior knowledge and experience. On the other hand the potential gains from doing this course can be enormous.

Many remote students seem to be taking on more than they should and the better ones are able to catch up in what seem to be dramatic spurts of effort.

There have been cases of students not receiving the necessary materials or receiving the wrong materials. One case was so bad in terms of a sequence of mistakes that I had to ask the student to document it in a letter so it might have an impact on improving the administrative handling of materials.

M 15544 Murray Turoff (Murray, 103) 2/27/95 2:08 PM 7 lines
TO: ZZZZZZZZZZ Subject: thanks for the letter

Thank you for the letter. I will see that your letter reaches the people in the administration that are suppose to insure that what happened to you semester does not happen to others in the future.

I hope your letter will help to eliminate these problems. I know that does not help you this semester but as your instructor I will try to give you any leeway you need in meeting and doing assignments including putting off your final project to January if you like.

There is no doubt that this medium of communications encourages many students to be extremely frank and open about their lives and the impact this has on their performance in the course. In the years of using this medium I have had many extremely detailed explanations of problems they have in their personal life. The one below is an excellent example of the degree this can take. Included are the subsequent replies.

M 17279 XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX 11/2/95 7:51 AM 25 lines
TO: Murray Subject: the paradox we have

Hi, Dr. Turoff. Long time, no hear. I'm writing to you to fill you in on what's been going on with me, why I have all those items marked unread, why you have no project from me, etc.

I have always been a good learner, but a poor student. By this I mean that I have an active interest in learning for the sake of learning, and often work harder in my classes than many "good students." On the other hand, I also often let myself fall behind schedule when a different interesting problem pops up. I tend to focus on one topic or project for days at a time; it's how I work. Anyway, it's not necessarily too good for trying to be a student. It doesn't leave one any slack when other things in one's life go awry. I've always been able to get by on my ability to cram and learn things quickly, but this semester, it backfired nicely for me.

I came across an interesting new situation, began to study it, and decided to change the subject of my senior project in order to study it some more. I let it consume my time. And then I had some problems happen in my life, and since I had already let myself fall behind in all my other classes, well, I had no slack to catch me.

Without trying to sound like I'm making excuses, I have been dealing with the mystery disease (my doctor likes me, because I'm an "interesting case." After several expensive diagnostic tests proved non-diagnostic, he is convinced that he has no idea what I have.) My disease is not disabling anymore, but it is recurring and annoying. Next, I had an accident while driving a truck for my friend who was moving. This led to legal hassles and the necessity to drive down to central Jersey several times, as well has having to deal with a variety of insurance companies (mine, his, theirs, the truck rental's, ugh) repeatedly on the phone. Then my aunt was diagnosed with breast cancer and the doctors planned on a radical mastectomy, which pissed me off, because it's already become well-known that a radical mastectomy connotes no benefit relative to a more limited lumpectomy. Or rather, it's become well known over here, but not in Poland where my aunt is. I failed to reach the right people in time. C'est la vie.

THEN my best friend was involved in an accident. He lives in an apartment in Newark, and the only remaining family he had in the area had moved to North Carolina, where the rest of his family is. My friend had a head-on with a drunk driver while he was on a motorcycle. Considering that this happened on McCarter Highway, it's a miracle that he's alive at all. He was out for a few days, but the net damage was only a concussion and a broken foot. And soreness everywhere. (He's doing fine now, in case you're curious. He's well enough to get around, has a walking cast, and left yesterday to go visit family in the Carolinas.) At any rate, at the time, he didn't have anyone to take care of him, so I, another friend, and my sister took up the job. We took care of paperwork for him (the hospital didn't know he had insurance; suddenly, they weren't going to release him quite so early. . .), brought him things from his home, got accident reports so we could all know what happened (he still doesn't remember the accident), recovered his motorcycle from the tow yard (the bill grows daily until you do this, kind of like a savings bond), and etc. After a week and a half or so, he was settled back in his apartment, we were past any danger of serious brain injury (and he was eating again), and all the other matters had been passed into the capable hands of his new attorney from A.I.M. (Aid for Injured Motorcyclists.)

Then, I had to prepare for an obligation I had given myself many months ago. Remember the friend for whom I was driving the truck? He was getting married, and I had promised to play the piano for his wedding. I had already done this once before (ceremony, cocktail hour. . .) for another friend, and it went great, and so when they asked, I said sure. Then I realized that I had a long list of pieces to learn to play, and it was only a week before the wedding. So I set myself to doing nothing but practicing for a week or so. (I had forgotten how much one's back and neck can hurt when putting in those kind of hours at the keyboard.) Anyway, I managed to pull of the wedding day to everyone's satisfaction but mine (after all, I KNEW where I had made mistakes or skipped difficult problems. The others were blissfully ignorant, except those I told.)

So, in the end, things turned out OK for everyone but me. Oh, did I mention that during this whole time, I was still working weekends? I work as a dealer/floorperson in Atlantic City, and, except for the wedding days (my friend's and my cousin's), I had to drive on down to AC to work. I have no sick days left because of my disease (which began late this summer), and they don't want to give me a leave of absence. They are trying to hire new people, but it's hard to get extra days off, especially when requests are granted based on attendance. Anyway, after all that had gone on, I was mentally exhausted, and I dropped out for a week. I continued skipping all the classes I had missed for several weeks and sat around, or drove places and did nothing. A couple of times I took Derek (of the motorcycle accident) up to Garret Mountain reservation and just sat there. It felt very, very, good not to be doing anything, and not to be thinking about what I needed to do. I guess I was pretty burned out.

Then, somewhat at the prodding of Derek (what are friends for?) I started trying to pull my semester back together. I made arrangement with all my other prof.'s so far, and will be making up work, making up mid-terms I missed, and so on. I wasn't able to find you on campus, and haven't started making up work for this class until today (I started reading the conference again). Well, that's not quite true; last week I spent a few hours in the library reading articles. Oh, did I mention that I'm making up much of my work as a sort of independent study? A week ago Thursday, my car was stolen; it was parked by the Gymnasium. Remarkably, it didn't phase me. The police and my friends were all very surprised at how I handled it; it really seemed like no big deal to me, relative to all that had gone on this semester. Anyway, driving in will be difficult to arrange on many days, and the public transportation near my house is not good. So my other classes will be running kind of like this one was supposed to be!

The other thing that has surprised me is that my professors have been very understanding. I don't mean that I didn't expect that, but most of them didn't even want to know anything about what had happened. The fact that I went to them, apologized, and asked for the chance to make things up was enough. It's true, some of them know me from other classes, but it was still enough to make me want to cry. One prof only wanted a copy of the theft report, so he has an official record of why I missed the mid-term.

Which brings me to the reason for writing this very long letter. I don't know if you wanted to know all they details, but no one else did. I guess I've taken this as my excuse to unload all my troubles. In fact, I feel better just having written all of this.

I'm not yet sure if I'll send you this, but if I do, thanks for taking the time to read it.

I'm sure I can find what I need to do on the conference; I'll be working as quickly as I can to catch up, and I hope to take the final with everyone else when you offer it on campus. I'll keep you posted on my progress in making up all the other work, unless you send me mail indicating that it's too late to try and make up the work. Please let me know soon; I'll be checking in again Friday afternoon; right now I have to prepare for two finals tomorrow.

M 17279.1 Murray Turoff (Murray, 103) 11/2/95 1:26 PM 15 lines
TO: xxxxxx Subject: the paradox I have

I am not sure how I can respond to this. Normally given your circumstances which I actually believe(!!!) I would suggest you take an incomplete and I would not mind you making up next semester. However I go on sabbatical in January and am off to Australia and New Zealand.

You would have to get special permission to go beyond the six month deadline on incompletes and wait till I get back to finish the course.

So this leaves no flexibility. You have got to complete the work according to the deadlines I have set, the exam in a few weeks, the project by dec 21st, etc. or drop the course and pay tuition for retaking it or another course later. I wish I had more flexibility to help you but it is not possible in this situation.

M 17279.1.1 XXXXXXXXXXXXX 11/2/95 7:51 PM 25 lines
TO: Murray Subject: the paradox we have

Normally, I wouldn't mind taking the incompletes from most of my courses, allowing me to finish the others without great strain.

But (and I verified this with Michael Tress today) I'm slated to graduate this December/January, and it doesn't look like I'll be able to afford to take an extra semester to make things up.

So I'll just do my best trying to meet the deadlines that are already established. Given both our situations, I think this is the most I could ask, and the most you could offer.

I'll be doing my best to make up what I'm missing in the conference this weekend (which, I just learned by calling scheduling at the casino, I have off!), and tomorrow afternoon I'm staying as late as I can to study in the library, since my access to campus is limited.

I'll also be checking in with the police again; I suspect my car will be a loss, and I can't afford another; I'd rather not spend my winter on a motorcycle AGAIN (I did that last time I had a car stolen in Newark; a friend gave me his motorcycle), but I may resort to buying a cheap motorcycle if I become desperate.

You can be on an insured motorcycle for $300 or so if you don't care about aesthetics or high speed; that's something you just can't pull off with a car. Also, some relatives were indicating that they're ready to buy new cars, anyway, so perhaps I can get a decent used car for a song; the insurance on my old car is still paid up, so I should be able to credit that to any replacement vehicle.

Anyway, thanks for giving me the opportunity to try. We'll see if I'm capable by the time the exam has gone 'round, now won't we?


CLASS DISCUSSION

The following is a presentation of the flow of the online class discussion for CIS 455. It uses examples of the students' and professor's inputs copied (with only minor editing) from the actual conferences. The names of the particular students have been removed so authorship cannot be identified.

The conference is set up with a limited number of comments already made by the professor before the students are allowed in. These have the nature of welcome and orientation objectives.

C 103.7 CC 1 Murray Turoff (Murray, 103) 1/14/95 11:42 PM 40 lines
KEYS: welcome Subject: welcome to CIS 455

I would like to welcome you all to our class conference. This is our primary place for discussion. If you have any questions on the reading materials or the lectures you should enter them as comments in this conference. My lectures do not duplicate the reading material and if you do not ask questions about the readings I will assume you understand them and can ask about any of them in the course exams.

There will also be a number of assignments that must be done on line and entered in the conference.

I have picked out five Harvard Case Studies that I feel provide important insight into the management of computer systems. The HBR case studies are real situations that have occurred in companies. I am noted for pushing students and my courses are not easy. However, I hope you will end up agreeing that I have some important and useful insights to provide you about this subject.

We can have a lot of fun with this topic and learn a lot if you all participate and keep up. Late assignments will loose two percentage points a day of a grade points.

This conference includes both the students in the face to face class and the students in the remote section and you will all be treated as part of one class.

Since the remote students receive the tapes about one week late certain assignments may be a week late on the part of the remote students if they require the lectures.

The case studies cannot be late as once I lecture on the given case study I cannot give any credit for late case studies as you will know the answers. Therefore case studies must be post marked on the day of the lecture.

Mail you assignments to my home (see syllabus) and DO NOT require any signature for delivery.

The next comment is some hints on using EIES, the conference system. It attempts to head off what I have found to be the common things that the students do wrong or do not understand. A great many students feel it is a rite of passage to not have to read a manual when learning a new system. Unfortunately in a communication system some types of misuse or unintentional errors can make life more difficult for the other participants.

C 103.7 CC 2 Murray Turoff (Murray, 103) 1/15/95 0:01 AM 100 lines
KEYS: help/EIES Subject: Helpful hints on using EIES

Enter the command +who 103 and you will see I am listed in EIES as: Murray Turoff (Murray, 103) Now enter +who (your id number) you will discover that the stupid sign in routine has put a lot of unnecessary garbage in your name and nickname. It is important that you go to the directory and update your material including redoing you name and nickname so they are what they should be. The headings on EIES have fixed field length and this long name and nicknames push useful material outside those total field lengths and make the headings for comments you write incorrect and foul up the name listing for the Gradebook. So it is urgent that you correct this. We have been trying for a year to get Computer services to change this but this is the way they wrote it and once in software it is in concrete. Why IS organizations do things like this is a valid topic for this course. When you go to the directory choose Y for Your entry and you will be able to change each field. You might want to look at mine to see what a "description" is like.

Please be sure to fill in your directory and do include a phone number where I can reach you if I need to.

EIES has a number of features you need to master. There is a simple line editor for making corrections on line and you can call up a speller if you wish (ask Help) or you can learn to upload and download material (see ?upload and ?download). If you prepare material in another editor it should be converted to ASCII before uploading.

One of the features we will be using is attachments and activities. These may be associated with any comment in the conference. One type of activity is a "QUESTION" and when I use this you should use the "activitY" choice to ANSWER the question. You enter a "Y" to choose activitY. Until you supply an answer to a QUESTION ACTIVITY you can not see the answers that the other students have supplied. This encourages equal participation in the discussion.

The next comment is a QUESTION ACTIVITY I am asking you to ANSWER.

Note any activity will have the "key" put on it of "activity"

When you compose something it starts a new root comment: (numbered with integers). When you Reply to an existing comment it will number that reply using the root number (e.g. 25.3 is the third reply to comment 25). Being careful about using the Compose and the Reply carefully will help us all to keep the discussion organized for later retrieval or review.

The use of good "keys" is another way of keeping our discussion structured. The FIND command will show you a list of keys and how many comments are associated with each one.

When viewing your new material or waiting comments in a conference you can put your own personal keys on them (private to you) and there is a command +todo which will put that key on any item so you can later retrieve it. You can also delete the key later when you have taken care of the item.

There are number of public conference you can join and conference 1000 is a place to practice using conferences. Our class conference is private and I control the membership as the monitor of the conference. If you wish to see all the conferences available when you see your conference list (that you are a member of) do the All command to see all conferences and whether they are public or private.

If you are having any problems using EIES send a message to HELP and some one will reply with an answer fairly soon (usually within a few hours).

Conference 1000 is set aside for practice if you are unsure about how to enter comments or do other things. It is a very good idea to try creating a comment there just for practice before entering anything here.

You should try Find and choose keywords to see what it looks like. You can also put personal keys (like "todo" ) on any comment that only you can see. As get to 100's of comments you will be very glad that all of us tried to make careful use of keys to identify items you may wish to retrieve later.

EIES DOES NOT DELIVER the items YOU wrote as WAITING comments or messages. They are created as Accepted for YOU and WAITING only for the rest of us. If you want to see that what you wrote is there you have to choose Accepted.

If you put things in the wrong place I will copy the item and sent it back to you as a message so I can delete your entry. If assignments are put in the wrong place I will not grade them. Even for general discussion be sure to choose Reply and give the comment number you are replying to when entering a reply. If someone enters a comment like number 30 then replies will become 30.1 30.2 etc. and this is very useful in reviewing a discussion. You can enter 30.. and get all the replies.

Good Luck

Getting to Know One Another

< The next item represents the first use of an ACTIVITY on EIES and it is where students are asked to introduce themselves and some of their background relative to this course. They are also asked to indicate what they hope to obtain from this course. As the instructor I also answer this question and provide some background on my experience relative to this course.

The examples provided below of the students' responses show the tremendous variation possible in the backgrounds of students relative to this course. This highlights the importance of giving students the ability to improve the feedback that they can give the instructor. In an area such as management certain things will be easily grasped by those who have lived through relative management situations. Other students will find it more difficult to comprehend the situation. However, if the instructor can get the more experienced students to restate certain knowledge in the context of specific situations they have encountered this will make the material clearer to the students who have not had the same experiences.

C 103.7 CC 3 Murray Turoff (Murray, 103) 1/15/95 0:15 AM 36 lines
KEYS: introductions/Question/Activity/ Subject: This is where everyone introduces themselves

This is a QUESTION ACTIVITY so you must answer it by going through the procedure of choosing "activitY" first. This will give you a chance to practice with it.

Please introduce yourself to the class and after giving the basic idea of where you are from and what you do, try to also answer the following for my benefit.

What is your major and what sort of technical or management background do you have with computer or information systems? If you have no direct background, do you have any work experience where you have observed the use and or abuse of Information Systems?

What is it you hope to learn and or understand from this course?

Try to keep your answer to about one or two screens.

When you enter Y for activitY it gives you a list of all activities and whether or not you have DONE them. you can then enter D for Do and then the comment number of the activity you wish to Do and then R for responding to the Question. Only after you have entered your response will you be allowed to see what others have said. This is a tool we will use for a number of "questions" I will have. Unlike a face to face class, everyone MUST respond to these discussion questions and this illustrates one way in which the on line class maybe a more effective learning device than using discussion in face to face classes! This also illustrates why applications done on the computer are never the same as the manual version even if they "sound" the same (e.g. email and the post office).

The very first response to this question is answer by the instructor where the student is present a summary of the instructors background and some of the instructor's experiences that aid in qualifying the instructor to teach the course. Also the student is provided a short list of some of the publications by the instructor that are relevant to the topic of the course.

The following are typical examples of entries made by the students in response to this first question.

C 103.7 CC 3.3 XXXXXXXXXXXX 1/19/95 10:16 PM 17 lines Subject: Introduction. Modified on 1/19/95 11:04 PM by XXXXXXXXXXXXX

Hi Professor and fellow students, My name is XXXXXXXXXX, but everyone can call me "XXXXX." I'm from Jersey City, NJ. I'm a CIS major. I currently work for Bell Atlantic Yellow Pages as a Technical Services Supervisor. My company consist of 9 offices (6 in PA and 3 in NJ), and I manage 3 of the 9 division's Technical Services department. I have experience in supporting applications and devices in the areas of PC's, UNIX, Dec., and Networking. Aside from providing customer support, a good part of my time is spent evaluating technology that may improve in how company does business. Also, I manage 8 technical administrators, and I also provide internal and external training. In taking this class, I intend to enhance my knowledge and experience in managing system information and people. Also, if possible I hope to benefit from other students as well as everyone benefiting from me. Looking forward to working with everyone.

C 103.7 CC 3.4 XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX 1/23/95 5:28 PM 8 lines Subject: Hello everyone!

Hi everyone, My name is XXXXXXXXXXXX but most people call me XXX. I'm a junior here at NJIT majoring in CIS with a minor in management. I don't have any work experience in the field, so my background comprise of the classroom experience only. I hope that this course will give me some conceptual and practical guidelines for dealing with information technology and for making efficient and effective decision with the management of information systems.

C 103.7 CC 3.6 XXXXXXXXXXXXXX 1/25/95 2:39 PM 18 lines KEYS:/greet Subject: Hello everybody

Hello, My name is XXXXXXXXXX and I am a 2nd semester senior in computer science at NJIT. I am a drop in student after leaving college and working in the computer industry for 4 years. I have run the gauntlet of jobs from operations and programming on an AS400 at a major hospital to a network administrator/technician at another major hospital. I have seen the good and the bad of IS departments from the inside. I have been lucky enough to have good managers over me but have also seen poor management from higher level admin.

I hope to pick up insight on how to integrate and maintain a good working relationship between the IS dept. and the rest of the company. I would like to find ways to alleviate some of the power plays and distrust that exists both for and inside the IS department. IS has much to offer a corporation if cooperation and realistic expectations are set. I would like to learn how to bring this about in my future jobs.

C 103.7 CC 3.8 XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX 1/25/95 8:30 PM 20 lines Subject: HI

My name is XXXXXXXXXX and I'm a Rutger's senior majoring in IS. I should say I'm a part-time student working full-time who has been going to school evenings for a long time. I work with a large law firm in Morristown, NJ. My job involves assisting the MIS Director with managing our Novell network. We have about 300 PC users. It's a lot of work which I find very challenging and frustrating at the same time. I kind of fell into computer when I started in word processing. I'm still involved with word processing at the Firm, but have broaden my base network management.

I'm still learning much. There's a lot of computer information out there and it's not always easy to make decisions about what application or product would best suit your needs, etc. etc. One of our projects for this year at the job is to begin firm wide implementation of windows. Some of the issues we have are training our users, some of whom will not be happy at all about having to use windows, administration of windows on the network, should applications go on hard drives or on the network?, need new PCs with larger disk capacity, more memory, faster ... Enough about my job. I hope to learn a lot in this class and look forward to the good that's to come.

C 103.7 CC 3.20 XXXXXXXXXXXXX 2/22/95 10:34 PM 9 lines Subject: This is where everyone introduces themselves

Hi there,

My name is XXXXXXXXXXX, I'm a Rutgers Information System Major and I plan to graduate over the summer. I really don't have any technical or work experience besides messing around with my one computer.

Class Clarifications

In addition to the above during the first week of the course there are a number of comments related to clarifying the early assignments and setting a due date for the first case study report.

C 103.7 CC 5 Murray Turoff (Murray, 103) 1/15/95 1:18 AM 12 lines
KEYS: warning Subject: start thinking about your project now

You should start thinking about what you want to do your project on NOW and not wait till the last month of the course. You should choose your review to be in the area you wish to work on.

Many students do not realize the difficulty of finding "good" material and the time and effort to do so. We will be focusing on professional literature and not material from trade magazines.

You should skim my lecture notes to get an idea ahead of the range of topics we are talking about. There are lot of areas where my lectures will only skim the surface and you can go deeper into it.

Some students are very quick to begin to ask questions and to consider the assignments. They often want quick feedback.

C 103.7 CC 11 XXXXXXXXXXXXXX 1/28/95 11:22 AM 14 lines

Subject: Article Review R: 1/1

For the article review, I have selected the following: Ferrat, T.W., L.E. Short, "Are Information Systems People Different? An Investigation Of How They Are And Should Be Managed," MIS Quarterly, September, 1988, pp. 426-443. There is no volume # or issue # that I could find.

I think this article will show why people who are IS are managed differently. It may also show that IS people need to be managed differently compared with other people.

I hope this article is O.K.

C 103.7 CC 11.1 Murray Turoff (Murray, 103) 1/29/95 3:08 PM 1 line
Subject: Article Review

That is a perfect choice of an article!!

Discussion Questions

The second week another question is introduced which is a relatively easy assignment but encourages the students to share their experiences. The objective of this exercise to convince the students that the problem of managing computer and information systems is a very real problem and that many companies of all types and sizes can get into major problems with this technology.

It should be noted that some of the answers lead to interesting comments by other students.

C 103.7 CC 12 Murray Turoff (Murray, 103) 1/29/95 3:18 PM 17 lines KEYS: bad management examples/Question/Activity/ R: 14/0 Subject: Examples of bad management

This is your first assignment for a discussion online and it is a QUESTION ACTIVITY.

Those of you who have had work experience may have run into problems that have occurred with the development or introduction of a software system. I would like you to tell us about one such problem you have seen first hand and also take a stab at trying to explain what sort of underlying management problem might have been the cause. This should be no more than a page.

It does not have to be of the scale (1.5 billion) of my examples from Business Week. It can be quite small scale.

Those of you who have not had such an experience or no work experience need to find another news item (Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Business Week, etc.) about a development disaster and tell us about it and give us the reference to the news article.

Some of the answers by the students will generate comments by the instructor and even a certain amount of discussion

C 103.7 CC 12.6 XXXXXXXXXXXXX 2/4/95 11:25 AM 54 lines Subject: Examples of bad management R: 1/1

I don't know if this qualifies; but, in December of '94, we (MIS dept) upgraded from 250 user to 1000 user novell network and had major printing problems! Before the upgrade, we used lanspool for managing network printing. One secretary PC out of every 4 was a controlling PC

That controlling PC had to be logged into the network in order for anyone (firmwide) to use the printer it controlled (did that make sense?). We were told by our vendor that lanspool did not support 1000 user network. They recommended we go with something called Print Assist which did support 1000 user networks. Well, print assist was real nice to work with as it was easier to set up than lanspool. With lanspool we had to setup on every PC that was going to control a printer. You didn't have to do this with print assist; could do everything at one PC. So, print assist was setup. After the weekend 1000 upgrade and testing (login and printing), everything appeared to be fine. Oh but when Monday came, the crisis. (During our testing, we didn't login every PC and printer in the entire firm, that's hundreds of equipment.) To make this long story short, any user who controlled a printer, and who had a login connection over 250 had big printing problems. They could not print nor could anyone else who needed to use the printer they controlled. So, in order to ensure that those users who controlled printers got a connection below 250, we (MIS staff) started coming in around 8: 00 a.m. for the next 3 weeks. The manufacturers of Print Assist were notified that their product did not work as advertised. They were trying to find a fix for us. In the meantime it created a hell of a lot of problems. Eventually we went back to another version of lanspool that claimed to support 1000 user network if you do x, y and z. The people at Print Assist long afterwards came out with a patch for its product, but we got burned already and haven't tried it again. As for our vendor who recommended print assist, they said they told us (which means the MIS director) that we had to test the product ourselves and that they never claimed to have actually worked with print assist themselves. Network printing is one of our biggest headache. And we catch a lot of flack from users who cannot print. Perhaps MIS should have investigated print assist a little more. For instance, find out if another large firm or company with a 1000 users or more used print assist or know anything about it. Perhaps MIS could I have contacted the makers of print assist themselves for any information. Actually, their product advertised 1000 user network support. Investigated further what options we had with lanspool, because that's what we ended up going back to. MIS biggest problem is that we're , in my opinion, understaffed.

C 103.7 CC 12.6.1 Murray Turoff (Murray, 103) 2/4/95 5:56 PM 6 lines Subject: printer problems

A very interesting aspect of your example is that I suspect none of the your regular users cared whether it was your vender or your consultant firm that made a mistake. They BLAMED the MIS people which is the natural thing for them to do. In their thinking it was your mistake to trust the vendor or to pick an incompetent consulting firm.

C 103.7 CC 12.11 XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX 2/9/95 3:02 PM 49 lines KEYS: bad management Subject: Examples of bad management R: 1/3

There is one example of bad management that I would like to mention here. It was about a year ago when I was employed by a small mail order firm. I was a junior programmer in the company for about 2 months when the incident took place. Due to the business expansion and high demand of the Christmas season there were serious concerns about modifying the information system. This lead to the decision by the upper management of the company to ask the IS department to develop a project that would speed up the processing of customer orders within hours rather than 2 days, which was the current situation. This resulted in the development of a project which would automate the file-transfer to the DMGT network for the credit authorization and other processing matters. Several phases of the system had to be re-programmed o r at least modified to some extent in order to complete the project. We, the team of 8 available programmers for this project needed at least a month to complete the project but we were given only 2 weeks by the system operator as he could not object to the upper management somehow. This was clearly the case where the upper management had clearly overlooked the limitations of the IS dept. and systems resources. Although at the end of 2 weeks we were able to completely code the project, there were some parts of the system that had to tested to finalize the project. However, due to the constant extensive pressure from the upper management, the system operator decided to implement the project into the main system without extensive testing and debugging, which was a must. The systems seemed to be working fine with the DMGT file transfer and credit processing and there was no problem until the middle of the day. The system all of a sudden crashed during the DMGT transfer. After verifying with DMGT, it was concluded that it was our system that had the problem. This resulted in the complete mess of several customer files and financial data. Fortunately we had the Backup working to recover most of the data. After hours of mind-sweeping debugging, we were able to find the bug and fix it. As we looked at the problem, it seemed that one routine had been not modified by the senior programmer to comply with the newly formed routines of the project. This multiplied the error several times through the processing with in-appropriate data when the order size of a customer had exceeded a certain limit. The fact that the upper management unfairly insisted on the implementation of the project within in-sufficient time and the fact that the system manager of the IS Department agreed to that, somehow seemed to be the main reason for the whole disaster. Although the problem was solved within hours, it certainly depicts a poor management situation in the company.

C 103.7 CC 12.11.1 Murray Turoff (Murray, 103) 2/9/95 8:29 PM 6 lines Subject: common problem but there is a recourse R: 2/2

I suspect management held you programmers to blame rather than themselves. in situations like that the senior member of the programming group should write a memo for the record with everyone signing it that the group did not feel there was sufficient time allowed for adequate testing. I am serious about doing such things when unreasonable requirements are laid on the technical people.

C 103.7 CC 12.11.1.1 XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX 2/12/95 2:41 PM 13 lines Subject: unreasonable expectations with few resources R: 1/1

The recourse that you suggested seemed to be the logical solution that came to our mind at that time. At about halfway through the project, we also tried explaining to the management that even though we could finish the project, there was insufficient time for the adequate amount of testing as you mentioned. However, the request was reviewed, and then ignored by the upper management. Although I hate to mention any individual reference to that situation, I personally felt (just like many of us in the company) that the president of the company (who was the owner too) had too high expectations for the amount of resources he had provided to the IS department and other departments. This was one of many other unreasonable expectations that many departments had gone through.

C 103.7 CC 12.11.1.2 Murray Turoff (Murray, 103) 2/12/95 5:06 PM 8 lines Subject: unreasonable expectations or a style of management

A book I highly recommend is "the soul of a new machine" by kidder. It is a major computer development effort in data general which was well documented and it talks about all the practices to get technical people to work 70 hours a week when they are only paid for 40 and how to spend five years skimming the cream before firing them and hiring new naive younger fresh graduates to repeat the cycle. Also how to practice "mushroom management (keep in the dark and feed them lots of ...)

C 103.7 CC 12.8 XXXXXXXXXXXXX 2/6/95 5:44 PM 18 lines Subject: Examples of bad management

I have two examples of what I consider bad management. My first example at the company I presently work at we implemented a new system for claims processing. The system had so many bugs in it, it took approx. 30 months on a project that was scheduled to be done in 12 months. The cost of the project was and still is a big secret, but a lot of people lost their job for poor management judgment. The other case was at an another insurance company that had so much computer technology that I believe only one person in the whole company knew how to operate most of the equipment or what is was used for. I was a computer operator at this company and never was giving technical training or any kind of training on this equipment, but when problems came up I was suppose to know how to fix and correct these problems. Very poor management.

Throughout the course a number of questions were introduced as both a stimulus to discussion and as a way of providing the instructor insight into the manner in which the students had absorbed the readings and lectures.

C 103.3 CC 20 Murray Turoff (Murray, 103) 10/4/94 1:58 PM 36 lines KEYS: /Question/Activity/ Subject: new technology and risks

In the first case study we saw that one of the factors to consider is the RISK that a manager has to take when introducing a new technology.

Certainly real time systems was a new technology in those days and different than the batch programming environment. Therefore it was unlikely that Heller had the technical people who understood this new area.

We mentioned the example today of introducing object oriented programming in a computer development environment where all the programmers had never been trained in this technology and had not been regularly updated. Clearly a manager would feel a great feeling of risk in requiring all his current COBOL programmers to begin doing things in SMALLTALK.

What is a recent or current example of new technology in information systems that carries with it certain risks if a decision is made to introduce it into the organization. What are the specific risks or risk and what actions or practices should the manager take to reduce the risk of introducing this technology? What factors in the current organization might make the risk so great that the manager might rightly decide that it is too soon to introduce this new technology?

You can go back up to ten years and talk about the introduction of a prior technology instead of something current if that is easier to consider. For example, there are examples of companies that have chosen not to network there PC's even today, even though the technology has been around for a while. What risk factors might explain that example?

Pick a specific technology (hardware or software) and discuss the risks of introduction and the actions to minimize those risks. You should be able to do this in less than three screens.

C 103.3 CC 20.2 XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX 10/12/94 11:37 PM 15 lines Subject: new technology and risks

This is a topic that is near and dear to my heart. I have been studying relational technology and structured analysis for about five years now. I have found that most upper management type have no idea what the benefits of this technology can provide them. It has been very frustrating! The bottom line is that the information that supports a corporation's enterprise has been deemed (recently) as a corporate asset - that is it can be used as a catalyst for service and growth (in the form of new products). The problem remains that most upper management have been left behind in the technological realms and don't understand the flexibility available in designing your company's data. My only hope is that in 5 to 10 years there is a resurgence in the industry of technology comprehension that allows techies like me to make wave and progress in the business.

Sometimes it is rather surprising what topic generates a very active discussion. It is advisable to allow the students to continue the discussion and wait till it has slowed down before inserting any further insights or considerations.

C 103.3 CC 20.3 XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX 10/14/94 11:37 AM 26 lines Subject: new technology and risks R: 2/9

The technology that I will discuss is the use of scanners in all types of stores. If, for instance, a supermarket decides to install such a system, there are certain things that must be considered. First of all, besides buying the scanners, a new machine must be bought to hold the centralized database. This database must constantly be maintained and must be updated every time there is a sale, and also when the sale ends. This means that new employees must be hired to do the job. The charges made by the scanners at the checkout counter will probably be part of an integrated package, so there will have to be computer personnel to make sure that the integration programs flow shamelessly. Another point to consider is how the present checkout employees feel about the systems. They may feel intimidated by the machines, and when the scanners don't work, they may feel that they are more trouble than they are worth. It has been my experience that the scanners may help the stores with their inventory and accounting, but does very little for consumers. The use of scanners hasn't diminished the time spent on checkout lines at all. In some case I would say that they increase the time. This is due to dirty scanners, bad bar code labels, or entries not in the system. Also, studies have shown that scanners overcharge up to 23% of the time. If consumers become more aware, or fed up with the time it takes for cashiers to keep scanning products because it won't pick up the codes, then some of these places might lose business. If a company is small, then they might decide that the startup cost of adding scanners might be too costly. Also, they may not want to hire new people to maintain the database or the software, and they may not be sure that the current employees would readily adapt to a new system.

C 103.3 CC 20.3.1 Murray Turoff (Murray, 103) 10/15/94 1:00 AM 5 lines Subject: new technology and risks

Remind me in class to talk about the error checking system in a welfare system. It does seem like most systems always error against the consumer and I suspect it has something to do with the objectives of the design.

C 103.3 CC 20.3.2 XXXXXXXXXXXXXX 10/16/94 1:55 PM 36 lines KEYS: point-of-sale/supermarket/database/risks R: 7/7 Subject: new technology and risks

I gotta respond to this scanners problem.

Scanners are a method of point-of-sale data entry. As such, it requires the kinds of controls that data entry usually has: rules, functions, and an administrator.

As with any computer application introduction, there needs to be a clear direction handed down from management: we WILL use this, and this is exactly HOW. If a supermarket wants scanners, they must commit to keeping their stock database ABSOLUTELY current. A dirty barcode is no excuse, neither is a dirty laser head. The actual laser scanning is only an extension of the database you are using: UPC codes as indexes into the database. If your supermarket can say: yes, we will keep the UPC database clean and current; you can implement it with little problems. As a fallback, keying in the UPC number should work just as well, if slower, than the scanning. Overcharging is a problem of maintaining the database. Errors in entry are unacceptable: your screen should popup what the product is, i.e. 0090 is Rice Krispies, 25 oz, $3.59 and 0098 is Shoe Polish, 3 oz. Black, $2.29, so key-in errors are minimized if the cashier pops in 0090 and has a can of shoe polish in hand. Dirty scanner heads? Come on. Excuses excuses. If the cashier can't see it's dirty, are you hiring the blind?

Point-of-sale has its startup costs, its inherent need for database administration to be strict and disciplined, but I find it to be far more valuable in the long run. No more individual pricing, instant discounts, automatic generation of sale-labels for the item's location on the shelf, quick sales information, FAR more data for sales analysis than ever possible...

Of course, I could be full of it.

C 103.3 CC 20.3.2.1 XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX 10/16/94 2:05 PM 10 lines Subject: new technology and risks R: 1/5

XXXXXX, Everything you said about scanners is true in theory. However, in practice, I have seen dirty or scratched glass that causes the scanners to work at less than peak performance. Also, when there is a big sale going on, a lot of prices have to be changed. The people doing this might become bored or tired, and they could key in the wrong information. From a company standpoint, I believe scanners are a great asset. But, customer satisfaction might keep the business afloat.

C 103.3 CC 20.3.2.2 XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX 5 lines 10/18/94 4:30 PM KEYS: scanners/risk Subject: Scanners are nice.

This isn't a problem with the scanner technology, it's a problem with the people.

C 103.3 CC 20.3.2.3 XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX 10/18/94 4:43 PM 4 lines Subject: Scanners are nice.

I agree that it is a problem with the people, but people are also a resource of a company. All your resources should mesh, or problems occur.

C 103.3 CC 20.3.2.4 XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX 6 lines 10/19/94 11:05 PM KEYS: scanners/risk/management Subject: Scanners are people too?

Ah, but then it's no longer a risk of technology, but a function of your training for employees, and the technology issue becomes moot.

C 103.3 CC 20.3.2.5 XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX 10/20/94 4:23 PM 5 lines Subject: Scanners are people too?

I think that it is as much a risk of technology as it was when going from COBOL to RAMSIS II. Both sets of employees must be trained, and in both instances, some will be good, and some will be bad.

C 103.3 CC 20.3.2.6 XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX 10/20/94 7:10 PM 2 lines KEYS: cis455/technology Subject: new technology and risks

no way man. You're right on. Discipline, hard work and tenacity are the best road to excellence

C 103.3 CC 20.3.2.7 Murray Turoff (Murray, 103) 10/22/94 9:54 PM 10 lines Subject: psychological problems cause risk too

Don't forget the psychological problem. A person who learned to master an adding machine and remember many product prices will feel that they are being deskilled and resent that now any high school student can do their job without much training. Not the level of professional mastery that they obtained. By the way have you ever been in a market line and their was a missing price code that could not be scanned. It causes quite a turmoil. I had printing in high school and learned to set type and run a press. Glad that I did not choose to follow that as a profession. But they are a good example of a displaced skill no longer necessary. Printers had a great deal of professional pride in their skills as crafts people.

Some questions are constructed to be extremely relevant to the student so that they will generate very considered responses.

C 103.3 CC 82 Murray Turoff (Murray, 103) 11/15/94 3:01 PM 14 lines KEYS: professionalism/Question/Activity/ Subject: determining professionalism of an organization

As we discussed in class one of the key concerns for all of you is determining the degree of professionalism in the organization that you are interviewing for a job.

What are three signs you might notice on your visit to the organization that might be a sign of a professional organization?

What three questions would you expect them to ask you if they were a professional organization?

What three questions would you ask them to try and determine with they were a professional organization?

C 103.3 CC 82.3 XXXXXXXXXXXXXX 11/23/94 8:49 PM 16 lines KEYS: professional/interviews Subject: determining professionalism of an organization

3 signs of a professional organization: 1) Multiple interviewers including manager, technical manager and future (potential) collages 2) A library of manuals, reference materials and documentation 3) High quality equipment (on desktops)

3 questions they would ask of me 1) What are your recent achievements, both technically and administratively 2) What are doing with your education and what are your future plans 3) What are your career objectives

3 questions I would ask of them: 1) what is your management hierarchy 2) what are your education and training policies 3) what is the IS strategic direction for the next 1 and 5 years

Some questions do stir up considerable disagreement and discussion

C 103.7 CC 85 Murray Turoff (Murray, 103) 4/17/95 3:51 PM 44 lines KEYS: medical records/Question/Activity/ Subject: ethical issue activity R: 16/0

We have not had much of a chance to talk about professional responsibility and ethics. So here is a QUESTION activity where you need to answer this with what you would do if faced with the following situation and why you would do this.

You have just jointed an elite group of systems people responsible for the databases in the corporation. This is about nine programmers and systems people. The maintain all the key central corporate data bases.

This is a wonderful job opportunity and of course you are the junior person and newest to the group.

One of the members of the group has let you know that one of the data bases is medical records of a yearly physical that the company gives to all its employees.

Some of the programmers have developed some special search routines available as part of the maintenance software that only this group has access to. This allows them to search for such things as single females meeting certain physical criteria and allows them access to such information as methods of birth control used.

Clearly this is used to pre determine which females in the company they would like to meet and date.

Clearly this is an all male technical group and you are to answer this assuming you are male as well. Among your choices might be such things as:
a) join in the fun
b) don't participate and ignore it
c) urge them to stop
d) report them to management
e) report them to NOW and / or the ACLU, etc.
f) contact the star ledger
g) go to the ACM ethics committee
h) look for insight in the ACM code of ethics etc. etc.

So what would you do and why. This is an ACTIVITY and should be answered as one. Once you answer you can discuss and comment on the other answers presented. I will hold off saying anything until I feel there has been adequate discussion.

C 103.7 CC 85.1 XXXXXXXXXXXXXX 4/18/95 12:04 PM R: 1/4 29 lines Subject: ethical issue activity

Ethical Responsibility

The truth of the matter is that I would probably join in. I am only human. But I think that once things started getting out of hand, I would probably refrain from the temptation of all the possibilities that were available to me. I do not think that any man in his right mind would not be tempted to act on this advantage of the job. So, of course, there would be widespread participation throughout our programming and systems group. I am not saying that it will and will not get out of hand because there are always some people who will get guilty and stop, and there are people who just do not know when to stop. The chances of things going crazy would be a little over 50%. But I doubt that it would get that far without being noticed by someone in management. What I mean about getting out of hand is that knowledge of this might leak into the rest of the corporation to a few employees who may want to join in on the fun, or the possibility that the women in the corporation find out that our group is slowly dating an increasing number of them and they want to find out why. In a situation like this anything and everything can happen. There is no limitation on the damage and trouble that can be caused. Personally, I think that after a while, I would grow tired of the game and eventually stop. But I would not report it. If things are found out, I will take responsibility for what I did, but no one else's. I will not be used as an escape goat or use anyone as my escape goat. But in this dog-eat-dog world of ours, I would probably get fired for the whole mess (after all I am the junior member of the group).

C 103.7 CC 85.1.1 XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX 4/23/95 8:06 PM R: 3/3 5 lines Subject: ethical issue activity

Lloyd, That's right. You're only human and for that fact alone I think you should refrain yourself right now before things get ugly. Besides taking advantage of others is morally wrong, and can cost you your job. I think it would be best not to invade the privacy of these females now. Don't you?

C 103.7 CC 85.1.1.3 XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX 4/24/95 6:51 AM 13 lines KEYS: reply Subject: ethical issue activity

Hi everyone, I read many responses about this ethical issue. In most of them I noted one important concern: "being new in the company". In response to that, what about following the ethical code of privacy and access to justify the overall good for the company? The ethical code does not differ for a new employee and a senior employee! I think that there is a lot more to this issue than just "having fun" when it gets out of hand eventually. In any case following fun" when it gets out of hand eventually. I think that temptation of getting involved in this activity is very high but as responsible professional, we ought to think better. Refraining from this activity is an easy choice to make, but is it the best choice? I don't think so.

Class Guidance

There is considerable reading material in the course and the students are provided early in the conference with a set of sample questions as a guide to the readings. This set of sample questions is stored in an instructor's notebook and the ATTACHMENT ITEM facility is used to convey that existing item to the class conference.

C 103.7 CC 15 Murray Turoff (Murray, 103) 1/31/95 9:59 PM 4 lines KEYS: exam/samples/questions/Attachment/Item/ Subject: sample questions for exams in this course

To help you in doing your readings and reviewing the lectures I have attached samples of questions I have used on past exams. This should give you the best possible idea on what are the things I consider important for you to learn as a result of this course.

ATTACHMENT:

C 103.4 CC 19 Murray Turoff (Murray, 103) 1/31/95 9:55 PM 30 lines KEYS: sample/questions/mois Subject: sample questions for Man. of IS

Sample Questions:

Describe a significant management issue, policy issue, or planning problem associated with the introduction of each of the following technologies into an organization. It should be something specific to the technology rather than general to any introduction of a new technology. (I could put any changing technologies here)

What are the decision and agreement points in the development process? Clarify for each one: when it occurs; what is the decision or agreement required; and who is involved.

How would Mowshowitz classify each of the following and why? (I could put in people and organizations you know about)

What the danger signs or primary conditions that could lead to a software development project getting into serious trouble and becoming a "runaway?" For each item explain how you would detect it early.

What do you consider the most promising three approaches to increasing software productivity and/or applications development within the organization. Explain why and highlight any potential dangers of these approaches.

C 103.7 CC 68 Murray Turoff (Murray, 103) 3/28/95 4:09 PM 25 lines KEYS: exam Subject: exam

In response to a message I receive I NEVER ask multiple choice questions, don't believe in them. My questions either require lists of answers (short phrases) or short one to three paragraph essays. There have been example questions placed in this conference.

For this exam I expect the students to be prepared to answer anything about the software development process as covered in the lectures. I also expect you to be able to answer anything about the two required professional articles.

In the book part II gives important insights as to how specific technologies can affect the organization and its management and operation. Part iii gives additional insights into my lectures on development with a lot of examples and some insight into the history of the area.

Chapter 11 is not too important but chapter 12 is. Finally the specific technologies in chapters 13 to 16 give an important feel for how these four technologies impact the organization. You can ignore part vi for this exam.

Note the book gives references for each chapter and covers most of the areas you would do topics on so you can use it as a starting point into a topic

The student must select a professional article to review and often undergraduate students do not understand the distinction between a professional journal and a trade magazine.

C 103.7 CC 47 XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX 2/26/95 8:47 AM 10 lines Subject: ARTICLE REVIEW SELECTION R: 1/1

I'd like to review the following article:

Moad, Jeff, "WANTED: The Multithreaded CIO", Datamation, v.40, April 15, 1994, pg. 34-38.

This article is relevant because it discusses what it takes to be a good CIO. This article lists the 9 commandments for CIOs. For an aspiring CIO, its an interesting reading.

C 103.7 CC 47.1 Murray Turoff (Murray, 103) 2/26/95 7:06 PM 9 lines, Subject: article not approved

XXXXXX, DATAMATION is NOT a professional journal and therefore articles there are not allowed. For the review you must find an article in a professional journal and NOT a trade magazine. For the project one can have about a 1/3 of the references in trade magazines but the rest have to be professional articles. To start with professional articles reference prior work upon which they are building. Most trade articles have no references and do not spend any real effort on explaining the evidence leading to a conclusion.

Other Assignments

Having the class on line provides other opportunities. One assignment was to have the student experience INTERNET and see how it lives up the press about the revolutionary "Information Highway."

C 103.7 CC 26 Murray Turoff (Murray, 103) 2/13/95 1:36 PM 23 lines KEYS: assignment/internet/www/Attachment/Item/ R: 1/3 Subject: assignment: explore internet (information highway!)

A new assignment is to go into Internet and find something of use to us in this course and to tell us in this conference what you found and how we could get it or if it is short bring it back and make it an attachment.

You can get to the World Wide Web from EIES by entering +WWW also other NJIT machines have a WWW command so you can use other machines you may have an account. check with the Computer Services or if any of you know the other access you might comment here. You have seen a great deal of press about the "Information Highway and you can go spend a few thousand dollars on seminars for business men to tell you how to make money using Internet. The hoopla has arrived and you should all experience Internet and find out what it is really like and make an assessment for the rest of us. In conference 1.1 I put a 100 line item giving frequently used sources of information on internet. As an attachment to this comment I am providing an 1100 line item downloaded from internet and titled "frequently asked questions about internet" and it will give some background for those of you new to Internet. Exploring new technology and understanding it is one of those things you have to always be ready to do in the job environment and this is therefore a very real sort of assignment.

An example of a response to this assignment is as follows:

C 103.12 CC 12.1 XXXXXXXXXX 2/17/95 12:20 PM
46 lines Subject: surfing the net as an assignment in this course

First off to "Surf the Net" I use Netscape, a very user friendly graphical browser on a PC hooked to the Network system here at NJIT.

If anyone is interested in seeing what all the hype is about it can be seen in the Co-lab on the 4th floor of ITC, you may have to request an account or maybe the assistant on duty can show you in his account.

Search Engines are used for exploring the "Net." The most popular one that I know of is at http://www.yahoo.com/ after entering this URL you will get a window with a search box in it. This is where you type key words for your search (separated by spaces) I typed:

mis management information systems

and this is one it returned along with many others. I'll just put one so as others who may find them with the same search or different keywords may use them. Remember you can type whatever you want in this box. You could type : music <group name> and get a page that contains info and/or sound clips of your favorite music group, etc. For now though, I think we should find one related to MIS first so Murray doesn't get mad at me...... :)

Heres one I looked at

http://www.cox.smu.edu///mis/misq/central.html

The page is described as: "an electronic extension of the MIS Quarterly."

(*text* indicates actual links at the site.)

"This well respected scholarly journal publishes research focused on information systems (IS) management."

That's how they describe it as seen in the first paragraph on the page.

There are many different links, such as *MISQ Archivist* which contains past issues, it's own search capability and more.......

There are other main sections such as *MISQ Discovery* and *MISQ Roadmap*............

For those of you who have a genuine interest in MIS, if you look through this page and it's links you'll see that you can interact with the people their via e-mail or you can submit various works of your own...

Have Fun XXXXXXXXX

The student is required to present his or her choice for a final project report which presents at least three relevant references. What follows is a sample of that entry and the discussion that resulted between the student and the instructor.

C 103.7 CC 94 XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX 4/25/95 3:01 PM 23 lines R: 1/3

Topic for my final project: Title: Video Conferencing, has it made Telecommuting a reality for employer and employee.

Abstract: With the price war lowering prices, and the vast research regarding Video Conferencing, the concept of Telecommuting in the work place is now a reality, or is it? Nevertheless, companies are taking advantage on the benefits of TELECOMMUTING, and managers and employee are seeing some of the rewards as well as the heartaches.

References obtained:

1. Fryxell, David A, Telecommuting, Link-Up, vol. 11, iss: 3 date: May/Jun 1994, p: 18-19
2. Maynard, Roberta, The Growing Appeal of Telecommuting, Nation's Business, vol: 82, iss: 8, date: Aug 1994, p: 61-62
3. Taylor, Kiernan M., WAN Videoconferencing without High-Priced Hardware, Data Communications, vol: 32, iss: 17, date: Nov. 21, 1994, p: 45-46
4. Zeile, Art, Bridging the gap in Corporate Communications, Satellite Communications, vol: 18, iss: 10, date: Oct 1994, p: 22-24

Please let me know if my topic meets your requirement for the Final Project. Thank you.

C 103.7 CC 94.1 Murray Turoff (Murray, 103) 4/25/95 3:21 PM 8 lines Subject: be careful of this topic R: 1/2

If it involves video conferencing and video use through computer digital networks it is appropriate. But video conferencing as an analog process is just like audio phone conferencing and it is not relevant to this course. Multimedia conferencing over networks is the appropriate topic and you can use insightful information from experiences with video but the technology is not video conferencing in the traditional video conferencing sense

C 103.7 CC 94.1.1 XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX 4/27/95 7:56 PM 5 lines Subject: be careful of this topic R: 1/1

So, if I focus my paper on topics such as video conference and video use through computer digital computer network, or multimedia conferencing over network, or related experience, it will be appropriate for my paper. In addition, is information regarding management issues about video conferencing okay also? Please advise.

C 103.7 CC 94.1.1.1 Murray Turoff (Murray, 103) 4/28/95 6:29 PM 3 lines Subject: be careful of this topic

Management issues of multimedia conferencing over computer networks including the use of video, but not only considering video use of the network, would be appropriate.

The student's review of a professional article and an executive summary of the final report go into a separate conference since these are items that do not usually generate discussion. Examples of these are:

C 103.7 CC 31 Murray Turoff (Murray, 103) 2/19/95 4:56 PM 16 lines KEYS: reviews/103.6 R: 1/3 Subject: article reviews and project summaries conference

When you are ready to do your article review you will enter it in Conference 103.6. I have made you members but you have to enter it to trigger the membership.

Be sure to read the first comment where I give instructions on how to format and utilize keys and subject fields. If you do not follow the instructions you lose grade points.

You can see the reviews and executive summaries done by the students last semester. They are in this conference. When you enter the conference you can use the Intake command to move the existing items waiting to accepted after you look at the first comment.

I would like to see all the article reviews put in by no later than the end of the spring break.

C 103.6 CC 1 Murray Turoff (Murray, 103) 10/12/94 11:11 PM 16 lines KEYS: format Subject: article review format R: 1/3

This conference is where you will put your article reviews and later on put your executive summaries for your projects.

For an article put in a short form of the title of the article as the subject for the comment.

For the keys please put in the following keys

/first authors last name/ /journal title/ /volume(issue)/month year/

Be sure to put the complete reference at the start of the content as well. In the keys use a shorter form of the journal title like for "Communications of the ACM" you can use CACM

C 103.6 CC 44 XXXXXXXXXXXXX 3/23/95 5:14 PM 49 lines KEYS: /Ferrat/MISQ/12(2)/1988/ Subject: Article Review

Ferratt, T.W. and Short, L.E. "Are Information Systems People Different? An Investigation of How They Are and Should Be Managed". Mis Quarterly, September 1988, Pages 426-443.

This article specifically examines whether IS and non-IS people are or should be managed differently. The findings that the authors found are based on experimental studies regarding the differences between the two groups in terms of their work-unit environment and productivity. Two very important research questions are carefully examined during the course of the studies: 1. Do work-unit environments differ for IS and for non-IS people? 2. Is the relationship of work-unit environment to productivity different for IS and non-IS people?

To reach a relatively reliable answer, the authors emphasize on three sets of managerial activities: 1. Enriching the job. 2. Attending to interpersonal relations, involving the employee, and reinforcing work behavior. 3. Attending to production and targeting work behavior. It is found that within each of the three different occupational groups - Clerical operations, Technical professional, and Managerial employees - that there is no difference between the work-unit environment of IS and non-IS people. Also, some findings suggest when comparing two occupational groups - Technical professional and Clerical operations people - where productivity measures were obtained that there is no relationship for IS and non-IS people. Thus, the findings arrived to the conclusion that IS and non-IS employees at the same occupational level are not and should be managed differently.

Although the results of the study are to some extent correct, there is much debate regarding its correctness because the study was done using a field survey from a non-random sample of insurance companies rather than from some experimental or scientific methodology. Moreover, a limited set of managerial activities and employee behavior was investigated. And that is what prompt other researchers who have done some studies in the field to question the validity of these findings. According to the research study, although the differences in individual characteristics within IS and non-IS people have been investigated previously, the studies of motivational differences was the way of investigation which is why a limited set of characteristics within each individual was examined.

They do not investigate differences in the relationship of the environment of employee behavior or environmental characteristics. Instead, the study requires two explorations that need to be investigated in order to find the differences between IS and non-IS people. First, it uses analysis of the new scales which is validity and reliability of the resulting scales that measures the directions. Second, it uses the identifications of a limited number of types of work-unit environment. As a whole, this study mostly concerns about the behavior of employees which depend on the person and the work-unit environment. The authors used a survey instrument to ask questions about the work-unit environment, the organizational environment, and individual characteristics, where work-unit which is the most important is represented by the three major managerial activities mentioned earlier. In the second set, work-unit environment is represented by four different types of work environment identified in exploratory analysis: 1. Low on all the three dimensions. 2. Mid-range but relatively high on attention to production and targeting work behavior. 3. Mid-range but relatively low on attention to production and targeting work behavior. 4. High on all the three dimensions. In the first research, there was no significant difference at the 0.05 level of significance between IS and non-IS. In the second research, there was no interaction effect that differed from 0 at the 0.05 level of significance. All the results lead to the very same conclusion. That one should not accept that the relationship of work-unit environment to productivity does not significantly differ for IS and non-IS people. This concludes that managers should establish the same work-unit environment for IS and non-IS personnel at the same occupational level. Assuming that the above studies are reliable and some of the other research do not prove otherwise.

Exam question: Would there be a difference between the skills required for non-IS personnel to perform IS tasks, even though the motivations and work-unit environments may not be different?

C 103.6 CC 33 XXXXXXXXXXXXXX 3/18/95 2:14 AM 97 lines KEYS: /Farley/Richard/RMFSP/IEEE SOFTWARE/VOLUME 11/ISSUE 3/MAY 1994/ Subject: Article Review R: 1/1

Farley, Richard, Risk Management For Software Projects, IEEE Software, Volume 11, Issue 3, May, 1994, 57 - 67

The article I reviewed described a seven step procedure that shows Project Managers a way to identify risk factors that effect software projects. The article also shows how to formulate a contingency plan and how to conduct risk management. Included in the article a case study that shows each step in action. 1) Identify risk factors 2) Assess risk probabilities and effect on the project 3) Develop strategies to mitigate identified risk 4) Monitor risk factors 5) Invoke a contingency plan 6) Manage the crisis 7) Recover from a crisis

Identify risk factors- A risk is a potential problem, a problem is a risk that has materialized. When does a risk become a problem should be decided by all parties. In the case study the six risk factors that were identified were time, available memory, lack of experience with the hardware, lack of adequate software tools, uncertainty of estimated code size and the complexity of software.

Assess risk probabilities and effect on the project- First you must estimate the probability the risk will become a problem and what effect will it have on the project. In the case study he uses similar project evidence, analysis and some mathematical equations to determine probabilities and effect. A probabilistic cost model table was created taking the previously listed risk factors into consideration.

Develop strategies to mitigate identified risk- Once the risk goes over a predetermined threshold corrective action needs to be taken. The corrective action should be determined ahead of time. This is how a lot of projects get into trouble by not having a predetermined plan in case things go wrong. In the case study he suggest all affected parties publicly acknowledge risk factors and accept them and for them also to become involved in preparing t he contingency and crisis management plans.

Monitor risk factors- You must accurately monitor the risk data. In the case study it is stated software is not a physical entity so not subject to physical laws and mathematical theories that is why it is so important to set thresholds and to stick to them. The only way to do that in a software project is by monitoring budget versus demonstrated value.

Invoke contingency plan- Contingency plan is invoked when the preset threshold is reached. Early in the project people always think that catch up is possible in the next phase, it seldom happens. If the contingency plan goes over preset threshold a crisis management plan is invoked. In the case study he gives step by step instructions for preparing and forming a contingency plan. 1) Specify nature of problem 2) Consider alternative approaches 3) Specify constraints 4) Analyze alternatives 5) Selecting an approach 6) Specify risk factors 7) Specify tracking method 8) Specify responsible parties 9) Specify thresholds 10)Specify resource authorities 11)Specify constraints

Manage the crisis- In spite of the team's best effort sometimes contingency plans fail. The next step is the crisis phase. In this phase there must be a plan to get the project through this phase, also in this phase a Drop Dead Date is decided upon. This is the date at which management must reevaluate the project. In the case study he gives elements of crisis management. 1) Announce and generally publicize the problem 2) Assign responsibilities and authorities 3) Update status frequently 4) Relax resource restraints 5) Have project personnel operate in burnout mode 6) Establish a drop dead date 7) Clear out unessential personnel

Recover from a crisis- After the crisis is over certain action is necessary, such as rewarding personnel that worked in burnout mode and reevaluate the project as in terms of schedule and budget. In the case study he gives step by step instruction of crisis recovery. 1) Consider crisis postmortem 2) Calculate cost to the complete project 3) Update plan schedule and work assignments 4) Compensate workers for extraordinary efforts 5) Formally recognize outstanding performances and their families The article was interesting, informative and not to mention long. It is a must read for anyone that one day will be in the position of software project manager.

Question for the exam: Name the seven steps for risk management for software projects and tell a little about each.


COURSE FEEDBACK

At the end of the course the last question that was asked was the following:

C 103.3 CC 98 Murray Turoff (Murray, 103) 12/14/94 7:52 PM 5 lines KEYS: /Question/Activity/ Subject: feedback on the course

Here is a final question activity which you do not have to answer till after I have done the grades.

What are the most important things I learned from this course and how would I suggest improving the course.

C 103.3 CC 98.4 XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX 12/29/94 11:15 AM 30 lines KEYS: feedback Subject: Feedback

This course served as my first exposure to the business applications of our software design concepts, and gave me a good look at what kind of interactions are present when joining a firm, working within a firm, and even leaving a firm. It bridges a gap between theory and practice, and my conviction is that this type of course needs to be introduced earlier.

I learned how to apply my analytical thinking to business problems, and this was my most important benefit from the course. I found the case studies to be the most enjoyable, and the resultant discussions were very interesting.

The online activities are a good idea. There should be at least two a week. It should be stressed as an essential component to the classroom.

The final project should have been done from day one. I believe the projects would have been better if it was made clear that our ways of thinking should be deep and not broad. A 3-page paper the 2nd week, a 5-8 page paper by midterm, and a 15-page term paper at the end would be a better way of getting us used to what kind of thinking (and research) we should be doing.

C 103.3 CC 98.3 XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX 12/27/94 5:40 PM 30 lines Subject: feedback on the course

I think that the most important things that I learned in this course are:

1. How to look for the signs of someone undermining a project.

2. How to evaluate a system not just by cost, but also by how much money it will save, and how much revenue it can be used to generate.

3. Throwing technology at a company's problems won't solve them unless the underlying reasons for the problem are addressed.

4. The signs to watch for to see if a project is becoming unmanageable, and is likely to become a runaway.

The thing I like best about the course is the use of EIES. It has its rough spots, but I think that it far enough advanced as to be useful. It is good to be able to discuss topics online with other people. It also helps to get constructive criticism from people other than the teacher. I also liked the idea of giving out the printout of the course notes to keep note taking to a minimum.

What I didn't like was trying to remember all those notes for the test. The notes are structured as headings followed by subheadings, much like a well developed outline. I didn't think that they had any substance to them, and trying to study them was like trying to remember a bunch of lists. Using them as supplements to the book would have been fine by me. I think that it is kind of tough to remember direct lists rather than concepts.

C 103.3 CC 98.1 XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX 12/16/94 9:14 PM 14 lines Subject: feedback on the course

Oh boy! Now I don't even remember the wording of the question. Why, oh why didn't I write it down! Let's see it has something to do with what I learned. I learned a great deal about new technologies, both the technical side and the managerial side taught / researched. The insight I gained relevant to the managerial aspect was tremendous. I found the political aspect of implementing a project quite fascinating and I think most of the ideas/advice can be applied to any other project i.e. project that are not information systems related. I think I will use some of the contercounterimplementation advice and the other helpful advice in my community work. There are many sneaky "helpful" people who will covertly try to sabotage one's project simply because it was not their brainchild. Merry Christmas everyone! Got to go, Jamaica is calling.


CONCLUSIONS

The key problem that has occurred in all the offerings of the courses is the situation where students are starting the course out of synchronization with the other students. Underlying this has been the problem the getting the students all the materials they need prior to the actual start of the course.

The result is often that the instructor must track the progress of each student on an individual basis and can not rely on normal approaches to determining when a student is late and whether he or she is to be penalized. In addition, the efficiencies of being able to review all of the same homework assignment at one time and doing the grading is completely lost. It is many times more effort for the instructor to separately grade the same assignment many different times because of the setup and rethink time that is required.

Many aspects of this situation are not under the control of the Professor when they occur. For the remote student we have no way of determining when they have received what. It has been recommended that distance education needs to set up a tracking system by student so that there is a history of when a student registered, when a student was sent various materials and when the student made inquiries about specific problems and how they were dealt with. Such a history on each student by distance education would more easily clarify when a real problem exists and provide more meaningful information to the instructor when he or she has to check on a particular student.

Recommendation One:

There needs to be a tracking system to keep a record of the events dealing with a particular student including the tracking of particular problems that have occurred (e.g. being sent the wrong material).

The above problems have led this instructor to another conclusion upon which he has the power to take direct action. This has been the decision to get all the course materials that are created by and under the control of the instructor placed as HTML files on the Internet World Wide Web.

While many students may prefer to buy clear printed copies of some of these materials, the availability of the material on the WEB would mean that the student could have initial access to these upon registering for the course. In this case this would include the full detailed syllabus for the course and the files of presentation overheads used in the lectures.

For CIS 455 there are approximately 300 such overheads.

I have also chosen to make my vita and a number of recent professional papers available as well. This material is linked to my homepage for the four courses I regularly teach and have responsibility for. This includes the CIS 447 (Human Computer Interface Design ) as well as the CIS 455.

Both are electives in the BAIS and BSCS degrees now offered through Virtual Classroom. The material can also be linked from pages which describe the Distance Education Program in general and specific offerings in any semester.

Recommendation Two:

The material generated by a Professor for a course to be offered in the distance education program should be made available on the Internet WEB before the start of the course.

I also feel strongly that having this material publicly available would greatly aid the student in making an intelligent decision as to whether they are ready or able to take the given course. We now have too many students who sign up for a course and discover it is more work than they originally estimated. The offices they often deal with are not in a position, nor they have the talent to counsel a student as to how much effort a set of courses would be and to what degree they are prepared to take them.

Recommendation Three:

There needs to be a department advisor online on EIES who will act as a counselor to the students when they wish to discuss what they plan to take and when.

As the number of students builds up there should be more of an attempt to encourage the types of activities on campus students can now engage in when they meet in groups on campus.

Recommendation Four

Student organizations and clubs on campus should be encouraged to develop electronic components that better tie the remote student to campus.

Such organizations receive space on campus and some funds to carry out their activity. It should become normal practice to conduct some activities on line and to allow on line access for remote students.

Currently the remote students do not have the same methods of evaluating courses and providing feedback as the on campus students.

They are provided a survey by distance education which is completely different than the one provided to the on campus students and which does not, as a result, allow comparisons with the views of on campus students. While the classes under the Sloan project are receiving a much more comprehensive survey than either group, when the Sloan effort ends there will be poorer coverage of the remote students. All remote students should receive the standard forms used for the various schools at NJIT. In addition, the remote students have an opportunity to do more on their own:

Recommendation Five:

There should be a conference for the students taking remote courses where they can privately discuss their experiences in taking various courses and evaluate it collectively as a student group.

At many universities the students are able to conduct independent evaluations and this would be extremely easy to start via this technology.

What is needed is an unbiased party to setup and conduct a private conference with the students.

This brings to mind the final, but no less major problem. Very few of the regular offices that deal with the distance students have any clear electronic address on EIES or at NJIT that is provided the students. It was only with some effort that Distance Learning has begun to recognize the need for this but even their written material sent to students does not explain how the student may send electronic mail to reach them.

The students should be able to contact such parts of NJIT as the registrar, the book store, the computer store, student services, the dean of students, the library, the tutoring center, the employment office, etc. Anywhere on campus that a student would normally be able to go to make inquiries, should have a clear electronic mail address that the students can use and expect to get answers. Given the difficulties of reaching people in these offices by phone this should be a high priority item. There should be no difference in access to any NJIT office between the on campus student and the remote student.

Recommendation Six

There should be an NJIT directory for students available over the WEB that gives the electronic mail addresses that students can use to reach any office that the student would normally have access to on campus.

Even in the CIS department, the tutoring center function for students who can walk into a graduate student's office has not yet been put on line for the benefit of remote students who need tutoring.

Providing a complete electronic campus will be critical to the long term success of this program. In line with that it should be noted that we have to make the access problem straightforward and obvious.

Recommendation Seven

We should adapt a policy and approach that all remote students must be able to access NJIT via the Internet and be able to access other WEB sites as well.

This is a small cost today relative to the fact that we already require them to have the hardware and software needed. We could even choose a provider of Internet access that we know is reliable and let students know about the specific option. The on campus student at NJIT is provided a computer. There is a view that we should provide the network access to the remote student. We could pay for the network access membership of remote students during at least their first semester as students.

While a student can access Internet from EIES once they have gotten to the EIES Virtual Classroom most of the problems have been solved. Currently we are forever dealing with too many different forms of access. Besides necessitating an every increasing modem pool and the associated costs we cannot provide one workable set of instructions to all students on how to utilize communication software and how to upload and download. The student almost expects that we must be experts in every sort of access problem they may be having. By providing a standard single access and providing it we eliminate a lot of problems that are causing many people time and effort far in excess of the typical $15 a month per student that most Internet providers now charge.

By getting them on the WEB even before mastering on EIES we then given the immediate access, or should, to all the materials on the course. Furthermore there would be more incentive for the faculty to seek out and utilize other relevant course materials that might exist on the web.

This and other remote degree programs at NJIT have a great potential but the University as a whole must commit to giving the remote student true equality of treatment and access to the resources need to be an effective remote student.


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